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Natrix helvetica (LACÉPÈDE, 1789)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
SubspeciesNatrix helvetica helvetica (LACÉPÈDE 1789)
Natrix helvetica cetti GENÉ 1839
Natrix helvetica corsa (HECHT 1930)
Natrix helvetica lanzai KRAMER 1971
Natrix helvetica sicula (CUVIER 1829) 
Common NamesE: European Grass Snake
G: Barren-Ringelnatter 
SynonymColuber helveticus LACÉPÈDE 1789
Natrix natrix helvetica — THORPE 1975
Natrix natrix helvetica — HENLE 1980
Natrix natrix helvetica — VANNI & LANZA 1983: 174
Natrix helvetica — TREPTE 1993
Natrix natrix helvetica — PAWLOWSKI & KRÄMER 2009
Natrix natrix helvetica — FRITZ et al. 2012
Natrix helvetica — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix helvetica — KINDLER et al. 2017

Natrix helvetica cetti GENÉ 1839
Natrix Cetti GENÉ 1839
Tropidonotus natrix cetti — HECHT 1930: 307
Natrix natrix cetti — VANNI & LANZA 1983: 176
Natrix cetti cetti — VANNI & CIMMARUTA 2010
Natrix natrix cetti — SCHMID 2013
Natrix natrix cetti — LUNGHI et al. 2016
Natrix helvetica cetti — KINDLER et al. 2017

Natrix helvetica corsa (HECHT 1930)
Tropidonotus natrix corsus HECHT 1930: 308
Natrix natrix corsa — DELAGUERRE & CHEYLAN 1992: 82
Natrix cetti corsa — VANNI & CIMMARUTA 2010
Natrix helvetica corsa — KINDLER et al. 2017

Natrix helvetica lanzai KRAMER 1971
Natrix natrix lanzai — SCHWARZER et al. 1982
Natrix helvetica lanzai — KINDLER et al. 2017

Natrix helvetica sicula (CUVIER 1829)
Coluber siculus CUVIER 1829
Tropidonotus natrix var. sicula — BOETTGER 1880: 141
Natrix natrix sicula — MERTENS 1928
Tropidonotus natrix siculus — HECHT 1930: 302
Natrix natrix sicula — VANNI & LANZA 1983: 173
Natrix natrix sicula — SCHLÜTER 2009
Natrix helvetica sicula — KINDLER et al. 2017 
DistributionEngland, Netherlands, W Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy  
Reproductionoviparous. N. tessellata hybridizes with N. natrix and N. maura (Mebert 2011, Trapp 2017). 
TypesHolotype: unlocated, apparently not in MNHN-RA fide I. Ineich, pers. comm. 21 May 2019.
Holotype: private collection, given as “Sammlung Kramer”, adult male [lanzai]
Holotype: ZMB, cat. no. unknown [corsa]
Holotype: MNHN-RA 3317, collected by Bibron in Sicilia [sicula 
Diagnosis 
CommentDistribution: see maps for N. natrix and N. helvetica and their various clades in Kindler et al. 2018.

Subspecies: THORPE (1975) recognized only 4 subspecies: natrix, cetti, corsa, and helvetica (with N. n. natrix to include cypriaca, fusca, gotlandica, persa, schweizeri, scutata, and syriaca and helvetica to include helvetica, astreptophora, lanzai, and sicula). SOCHUREK (1979) suggested to recognize N.n. algirus. Natrix natrix helvetica was sometimes considered as valid species. Kindler et al. 2013, 2017 found many mismatches between morphologically defined taxa and mitochondrial clades (see e.g. Fig. S1 in Kindler et al. 2017), hence the Natrix natrix species complex may be difficult to diagnose morphologically.

Hybridization: In the French Pyrenees region, N. n. astreptophora and N. n. helvetica hybridize occasionally. N. n. astreptophora differs consistently from all other grass snakes by its reddish iris coloration and in having significantly fewer ventral scales and another skull morphology. Natrix natrix helvetica “hybridizes extensively with N. n. natrix” (FRITZ et al. 2012).

NCBI taxon ID: 1768100 [helvetica helvetica]
NCBI taxon ID: 1080240 [cetti]
NCBI taxon ID: 1080239 [corsa]
NCBI taxon ID: 1080238 [lanzai] 
Etymology 
References
  • Delaugerre, M., & Cheylan, M. 1992. Atlas de répartition des batraciens et reptiles de Corse. Ajaccio Parc naturel régional de Corse: Ecole pratique des hautes études, 128 pp. - get paper here
  • Fritz, U., Corti, C., & Päckert, M. 2012. Mitochondrial DNA sequences suggest unexpected phylogenetic position of Corso-Sardinian grass snakes (Natrix cetti) and do not support their species status, with notes on phylogeography and subspecies delineation of grass snakes. Organisms Diversity and Evolution, 12(1), 71–80 - get paper here
  • FRITZ, UWE & CAROLIN KINDLER 2017. A very European tale – Britain still has only three snake species, but its grass snake is now assigned to another species (Natrix helvetica). Herpetological Bulletin (141): - get paper here
  • Gené, J. 1839. Synopsis reptilium Sardiniae indigenoruni. Memorie della Reale Accademia delle Scienze di Torino 1:257—285 - get paper here
  • Hecht,G. 1930. Systematik, Ausbreitungsgeschichte und Ökologie der europäischen Arten der Gattung Tropidonotus (Kuhl) H. Boie. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin 16: 244-393 - get paper here
  • Henle, K. 1980. Herpetologische Beobachtungen in der Umgebung Rovinjs (Jugoslawien). Herpetofauna 2 (6): 6-10 - get paper here
  • Kindler, C., Graciá, E., & Fritz, U. 2018. Extra-Mediterranean glacial refuges in barred and common grass snakes (Natrix helvetica, N. natrix). Scientific Reports, 8(1): 1821 - get paper here
  • Kindler, Carolin; Maxime Chèvre, Sylvain Ursenbacher, Wolfgang Böhme, Axel Hille, Daniel Jablonski, Melita Vamberger & Uwe Fritz 2017. Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species Scientific REports 7: 7378;DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-07847-9 - get paper here
  • Kramer, E. 1971. Revalidierte und neue Rassen der europäischen Schlangenfauna. Lav.Soc. ital. Biogeogr., ForlÏ, n.s. 1: 667-678 - get paper here
  • Lacepède, B. G. E. 1789. Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares et de Serpens. Vol.2. lmprimerie du Roi, Hôtel de Thou, Paris, 671 pp. - get paper here
  • Lunghi, Enrico; Frank Deschandol, Lorenzo Cornago & Roberto Cogoni 2016. Dark coloration in Sardinian grass snakes (Natrix natrix cetti). Herpetological Bulletin (137) - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Paterna, Alessandro 2019. A Case of Hooding (Neck Flattening Defensive Behavior) in the Barred Grass Snake Natrix helvetica [Former Natrix natrix (Linnaeus, 1758)] Russ. J. Herpetol. 26 (2): 107-110 - get paper here
  • Pawlowski, S. & Krämer, C. 2009. Bemerkungen zur Herpetologie des nordwestlichen Kroatiens. Sauria 31 (4): 19-30 - get paper here
  • Schmid, A. 2013. Im Hochsommer nach Sardinien. Reptilia (Münster) 18 (102): 89-93 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, T. 2013. Auf Schlangensuche im Familien-Urlaub. Ein Drama in drei Akten. Reptilia (Münster) 18 (99): 68-75 - get paper here
  • Schwarzer, U.; Epperlein, C. & Kühnel, K.-D. 1982. Bemerkungen zur Herpetofauna der Toskana, Teil 1: Die Reptilien. Herpetofauna 4 (20): 17-20 - get paper here
  • Thorpe, R.S. 1975. Quantitative handling of characters useful in snake systematics with particular reference to intraspedific variation in the ringed snake Natrix natrix (L.). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 7 (1): 27-43 - get paper here
  • Thorpe, R.S. 1975. Biometric analysis of incipient speciation in the ringed snake Natrix natrix (L.). Experientia 31: 180-182
  • TREPTE, M. 1993. Kommentkämpfe bei der Barren - Ringelnatter Natrix helvetica LACEPEDE und der Gelbgrünen Zornnatter Coluber viridiflavus viridiflavus LACEPEDE. Sauria 15 (2): 17-19 - get paper here
  • Vanni, S. & Cimmaruta, R. 2010. Natrix cetti Gené, 1839. In C. Corti, M. Capula, L. Luiselli, E. Razzetti, & R. Sindaco (Eds.), Fauna d’Italia, Reptilia. Bologna: Calderoni, pp. 541–547)
  • Vanni, S. & Lanza, B. 1983. Guide per il ricononscimento delle species animali delle acque interne italiane. 27. Anfibi, rettili (Amphibia, Reptilia). Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche Aq 1 (205): 156-185 - get paper here
 
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