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Vipera graeca (NILSON & ANDRÉN, 1988)

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesE: Greek Meadow Viper
G: Griechische Wiesenotter 
SynonymVipera ursinii graeca NILSON & ANDRÉN 1988
Vipera macrops graeca — WELCH 1994: 123
Vipera ursinii graeca — SCHWEIGER 2009
Vipera ursinii graeca — KUCHARZEWSKI 2011
Vipera graeca — FERCHAUD et al. 2012
Vipera graeca — MIZSEI et al. 2017 
DistributionAlbania, Greece

Type locality: Peristeri, Lakmos Mountains in the central Pindos mountain range, 1900 m altitude, Greece.  
TypesHolotype: GNM 4942 (Göteborg Natural History Museum). Leg. Nilson & Andrén 1988.
Paratypes. GNM Re. ex. 6823 (six newborn), GNM Re. ex. 6849 (ZIG 146), GNM Re. ex. 6850 (ZIG 147), GNM Re. ex. 6851 (ZIG 142) + GNM ZIG 145. Leg. Nilson & Andrén 1988. 

Distribution: see map in Mizsei et al. 2017: 78 (Fig. 1)

Diagnosis. This taxon differs from all other members of V. ursinii–renardi complex by having the following combination of morphological characters (Nilson & Andrén 1988; Nilson & Andrén 2001; Mizsei et al. 2016): small body size (for males a snout to vent length (SVL) max. 40.6 cm, and tail length is 5.4 cm, and for females a SVL max. 44.3 cm, and tail length is 4.1 cm); non-bilineate body ground colour pattern; white or bright brownish-grey ventral colour; no dark spots on labial, lateral and dorsal sides of head except occipital and postorbital stripes; dorsal zigzag pattern tagged with pointed corners at windings, or consisting of a narrow vertebral line only; 45–58 dorsal windings; nasal divided into two plates or united with nasorostralia; rostral as high as broad; 2–8 loreals; 13–20 circumoculars; upper preocular not separated from nasal; 7–20 crown scales; more fragmented parietals; 12–15 supralabials (sum of right and left sides); first three supralabials two times larger than the following ones; third supralabial below orbit; 14–19 sublabials (sum of right and left sides); 3–5 mental scales; early dorsal scale row reduction; 120–129 ventrals for males, 119–133 ventrals for females; lowest number of subcaudals in the complex: 21–29 subcaudals for males, 13–26 subcaudals for females (Mizsei et al. 2017: 84)

Habitat. A mosaic of open or closed grass and shrub communities formed on limestone characterizes the main habitats of the taxon. Annual mean temperatures are about ~6°C, and the meadows are partially covered by snow until early summer (May-June. South-facing slopes are usually more open and rocky than north-facing slopes. Different species of Festuca, Poa and Sesleria dominate the open grasslands, and characteristic shrubs are Juniperus sabina, Daphne oleoides and Astragalus creticus. Most of the observed vipers were found close to shrubs or stone piles in south-facing habitat patches (Mizsei et al. 2017).

Diet: The diet of the species consists mainly of Orthoptera (97%) species, of which Stenobothrus rubicundulus, Platycleis sp., Decticus verrucivorus is the most frequent prey (Mizsei et al. in prep.). The abundance of Orthopterans is high from June to September (Lemonnier-Darcemont et al. 2015, Mizsei et al. 2017).

Predation: Known predators of the species are Vulpes vulpes, Falco tinnunculus and Circaetus gallicus (Mizsei et al. 2017). 
  • Ferchaud, Anne-Laure; Sylvain Ursenbacher, Marc Cheylan, Luca Luiselli, DuÄan JeliÅ, BÇlint Halpern, Égnes Major, Tatiana Kotenko, Najme Keyan, Roozbeh Behrooz, Jelka Crnobrnja-IsailoviÅ, Ljiljana TomoviÅ, Ioan Ghira, Yannis Ioannidis, VÑroniq 2012. Phylogeography of the Vipera ursinii complex (Viperidae): mitochondrial markers reveal an east–west disjunction in the Palaearctic region. Journal of Biogeography 39: 1836–1847 - get paper here
  • KUCHARZEWSKI, C 2011. OLD WORLD VIPERS. A natural history of the Azemiopinae and Viperinae von Tony PHELPS – Anmerkungen, Ergänzungen, Korrekturen. Sauria 33 (3): 19-42 - get paper here
  • Mizsei, Edvárd; Bálint Üveges, Balázs Vági, Márton Szabolcs, Szabolcs Lengyel, Walter P. Pfliegler, Zoltán T. Nagy and János P. Tóth 2016. Species distribution modelling leads to the discovery of new populations of one of the least known European snakes, Vipera ursinii graeca, in Albania Amphibia-Reptilia 37 (1): 55 - 68 - get paper here
  • Nilson,G. & C. Andrén 1988. A new subspecies of the subalpine meadow viper, Vipera ursinii (Bonaparte) (Reptilia, Viperidae), from Greece. Zoologica Scripta 17 (3): 311-314
  • Schweiger, M. 2009. Die Giftschlangen Europas. Eine Übersicht der Arten und Bemerkungen zu einzelnen Taxa. Reptilia (Münster) 14 (76): 14-25 - get paper here
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