Coronella austriaca 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae

Scientific Name: Coronella austriaca Laurenti, 1768
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Smooth Snake
French Coulerve Lisse
Spanish culebra lisa europea
Coluber laevis Hermann, 1804
Taxonomic Notes: There are three subspecies: Coronella austriaca austriaca is present over most of the species range; C. a. fitzingeri (Bonaparte, 1840) inhabits the southern part of the Italian Peninsula and the island Sicily; C. a. acutirostris Malkus, 1995, has been erected for the populations of the north-western Iberian Peninsula.

Simotes semicinctus
was described in the 19th Century from a specimen with the locality data "probably Borneo", and was never subsequently rediscovered (Tillack et al. 2008). Wallach and Bauer (1996), accepting this uncertain locality data, referred this species to the Southeast Asian genus Oligodon. Tillack et al. (2008), however, examined this specimen in detail and concluded that it is not referable to Oligodon. Considering the locality data unreliable and comparing the specimen with snakes globally, these authors reached the unexpected conclusion that S. semicinctus is a junior synonym of Coronella austriaca. The Borneo locality must consequently be considered in error, as has been found with other specimens from the same collection (Tillack et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-04-05
Assessor(s): Crnobrnja-Isailović, J., Ajtic, R., Vogrin, M., Corti, C., Pérez Mellado, V., Sá-Sousa, P., Cheylan, M., Pleguezuelos, J., Westerström, A., De Haan, C.C., Tok, V., Borczyk, B., Sterijovski, B., Schmidt, B., Borkin, L., Milto, K., Golynsky, E., Rustamov, A, Nuridjanov, D., Munkhbayar, K., Shestopal, A. & Litvinchuk, S.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Listed as Least Concern in view of its very wide distribution, presumed large population, and although it is declining in parts of its range, overall it is unlikely to be declining fast enough (30% or more) to qualify for listing in a more threatened category at the global level, or at the regional level in most parts of its range.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species ranges from southern Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden, where it is rare and its population extremely fragmented) and the Baltic region, southwards as scattered populations through western, central and eastern Europe (excluding most of mainland Denmark, parts of southwestern France, and much of southern Iberia), into northern Turkey (much of Anatolia, with some isolated southern populations), several islands (the Italian islands of Elba and Sicily; and southern England in Great Britain), the Caucasus region, northern Iran (Central Province) and western Kazakhstan. In Russia it is absent from Leningradskaya oblast' and from the steppes of the Kuma-Manuch depression north of the Caucasus (S. Litvinchuk pers. comm. 2017). In Spain the species has been recorded from the Sierra Nevada, and there is an voucher specimen in the EBD collection collected in the Cádiz province (J. M Pleguezuelos pers. comm. October 2008). It is found from sea level up to 2,750 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Italy; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2750
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species can be generally common in southern parts of its range, but it is be rare, with fragmented subpopulations in many northern parts of its range. The species can be hard to detect and populations may be overlooked (B. Schmidt pers. comm.). It is rare everywhere in southern Sweden, but it is extremely rare on the Baltic island of Åland (A. Westerström pers. comm.). In Switzerland, it is still relatively abundant in the Alps but there is a ongoing decline in the lowlands, mainly due to agricultural intensification (B. Schmidt pers. comm.). It is also extremely rare in the isolated populations of southern Iberian Peninsula (J. M Pleguezuelos pers. comm. October 2008). In one Spanish survey, only five individuals were recorded during more than 3,500 hours of targeted fieldwork (Santos et al. 2009). There is some evidence of decline in European Russia (Ananjeva et al. 1998), where it occurs at extremely low densities and has a fragmented population (K. Milto pers. comm. 2016). It is very rare in Kazakhstan, which lies at the southern border of its distribution range (K. Milto pers. comm. 2016).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is found in moorland, rocky coastlines, open woodland (deciduous, coniferous and mixed) and scrubland, hedgerows, woodland edges, heathland, sandy coastal sites, rocky areas, screes, subalpine and open areas with sparse vegetation. On the southern Iberian Peninsula and Greece it is largely restricted to upland or montane areas. Between two and 19 fully formed young (3.9 on average) are born at the end of August - October. The period of activity lasts from end of March - April to September - October but this varies widely according to latitude and altitude.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no use or trade in this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is threatened in parts of its range by the intensification of agricultural practices, afforestation of open areas (e.g. in Belgium) and fires in woodland or scrubland. Many subpopulations are vulnerable because of their fragmented nature, and through overgrowth of the species' preferred open habitats (for instance, in abandoned traditional farmland). Populations from the southern Iberian Peninsula (Sierra Nevada) could be threatened by climate change and displacement by more competitive Mediterranean species (J. M Pleguezuelos pers. comm. October 2008). Intrinsic threats for southern populations include poor recruitment capacity, extremely low density, isolation of populations, and global climate warming (for mountain populations) (J. M Pleguezuelos pers. comm. October 2008). While it is not collected, the species is sometimes persecuted through confusion with vipers.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Annex II of the Bern Convention, and on Annex IV of the European Union Habitat and Species Directive. It is protected by national legislation in parts of its range in most western European states. The species is present in a number of European protected areas.

It is included in the national Red Data Books of a number of counties. This species is currently categorized as Vulnerable in Poland (B. Borczyk pers. comm.) and Ukraine (Kotenko 2006). This species is categorized as Vulnerable in Switzerland (Monney and Meyer 2005). The population should be monitored in parts of its range, as it is under heavy local pressure in many parts of its range. It is listed as locally Least Concern in Turkey.

Citation: Crnobrnja-Isailović, J., Ajtic, R., Vogrin, M., Corti, C., Pérez Mellado, V., Sá-Sousa, P., Cheylan, M., Pleguezuelos, J., Westerström, A., De Haan, C.C., Tok, V., Borczyk, B., Sterijovski, B., Schmidt, B., Borkin, L., Milto, K., Golynsky, E., Rustamov, A, Nuridjanov, D., Munkhbayar, K., Shestopal, A. & Litvinchuk, S. 2017. Coronella austriaca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T157284A748852. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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