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Vipera ursinii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA VIPERIDAE

Scientific Name: Vipera ursinii
Species Authority: (Bonaparte, 1835)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Meadow Viper, Orsinis Viper, Orsini's Viper
French Vipère des steppes, Vipère d'Orsini
Synonym(s):
Pelias ursinii (Bonaparte, 1835
Taxonomic Notes: Crochet and Dubois (2004), reported that there are nine subspecies, and a new taxonomic revision would probably produce at least three species. They also reported that Nilson and Andrén (2001) had raised one European and several Asiatic subspecies to species status. However, Crochet and Dubois (2004) suggested that these results needed to be corroborated by complementary approaches. Joger and Stümpel (2005), recently recognized V. ursinii as being restricted to Europe, ranging as isolated populations from France in the west to Moldova in the east. They further recognized populations east of Moldova, formerly allocated to V. ursinii, as belonging to V. renardi (Christoph, 1861). Joger and Stümpel (2005), further considered the disjunct population from southwestern Turkey, to be the distinct species, V. anatolica Eiselt and Baran, 1970. The current arrangement of Joger and Stümpel (2005) is followed here as the most recent publication on this complex group. This species is within the subgenus Pelias (Nilson et al. 1999).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-14
Assessor(s): Ulrich Joger, Jelka Crnobrnja Isailovic, Milan Vogrin, Claudia Corti, Bogoljub Sterijovski, Alexander Westerström, László Krecsák, Valentin Pérez Mellado, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Marc Cheylan, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Roberto Sindaco
Reviewer(s): Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because its Area of Occupancy is believed to be less than 2,000 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat. The northern and eastern lowland subspecies of V. ursinii are especially threatened and are considered to be nearly extinct.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species has a very fragmented range in southeastern France, the central Appenines of Italy, western and central Hungary, northern and southern Croatia, central and southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, southern Serbia, northern Albania, northwestern Macedonia, western Greece and central and eastern Romania. It is considered extinct in Austria and Bulgaria, and is close to extinction in Hungary and Moldova. It occurs up to about 2,700m asl.
Countries:
Native:
Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; France; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Montenegro; Romania; Serbia (Serbia)
Possibly extinct:
Moldova
Regionally extinct:
Austria; Bulgaria
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is generally uncommon or rare, and patchily distributed. It is now presumed to be extinct in Austria, Bulgaria and possibly also in Moldova.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is primarily associated with open meadows and hillsides. Upland subspecies are generally found on well drained rocky hillsides, steppe and meadows, while the lowland forms are found in either steppe, or dry or damp meadows. The lowland subspecies are sometimes found in marshy areas. It gives birth to live young; the female has between two and 22 young.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The conversion of traditionally farmed meadows to intensively cultivated and grazed land has caused significant declines in populations of this species in Central and southern Europe, most especially among lowland subspecies. Also, afforestation of alpine grasslands (because of abandonment of traditional agricultural practices) is a threat to the species in some areas. Construction of ski-runs and roads are significant threats to montane populations. Montane populations of this species may also be affected by increasing climate change, in particular the impact of temperature change on populations of important prey species (e.g.. Orthoptera) and breeding biology. In the Balkans, it relies on prey species (Orthoptera) which is highly sensitive to pollution, hence it may be used as a habitat quality indicator. In France, some well known localities in Italy, and other parts of the range it is collected for the pet trade, and like many species of snake it is persecuted.

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. Populations of this species from Europe are listed on Appendix I of CITES. Its range includes several protected areas. In-country conservation measures, such as maintaining suitable areas of meadow habitat, are underway to conserve some populations (e.g.. Hungary and Romania) (CoE, 2003). Detailed recommendations for conservation action to protect this species can be found in Edgar and Bird (2006).

Citation: Ulrich Joger, Jelka Crnobrnja Isailovic, Milan Vogrin, Claudia Corti, Bogoljub Sterijovski, Alexander Westerström, László Krecsák, Valentin Pérez Mellado, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Marc Cheylan, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Roberto Sindaco 2009. Vipera ursinii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 December 2014.
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