, Volume 6, Issue 10, pp 1339-1351

Influences of area, isolation and habitat features on distribution of snakes in Mediterranean fragmented woodlands

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Abstract

The effects of isolation-related and vegetational parameters on presence and relative abundance of snakes in patchy forested fragments of Mediterranean central Italy are studied. The most abundant species was Coluber viridiflavus (accounting for 47.7% of the total snake sample observed) followed by Vipera aspis (22%), Elaphe longissima (21.5%), Natrix natrix (7.7%), and Coronella austriaca (1.1%). There was a clear trend for bigger species to be less distributed among the various forest fragments than the smaller species. Presence of Coluber viridiflavus, Coronella austriaca and Natrix natrix was not influenced by woodland area, whereas that of Vipera aspis and Elaphe longissima was positively influenced by woodland area. Woodland isolation parameters did not influence the presence of Coluber viridiflavus, Coronella austriaca and Natrix natrix, but of Vipera aspis and Elaphe longissima. Discriminant stepwise analysis suggested that specific environmental features influenced the occurrence and abundance of the various snake species, Vipera aspis being the taxon more affected by isolation-related parameters. Some conservation implications of our observations are also discussed.