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Vipera graeca NILSON & ANDRÉN, 1988

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, 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
Vipera graeca — SPEYBROECK et al. 2020 
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. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: 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) 

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

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). 
EtymologyNamed after its occurrence in Greece. 
  • Bamann, Thomas; Ines Aust und Dominik Hauser 2021. Quer übers griechische Festland auf Vipernsuche im Corona-Sommer. Elaphe 2021 (2): 26-37
  • 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
  • Geniez, Philippe 2018. Snakes of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Princeton University Press, 384 pp. - 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
  • Kwet, Axel 2017. Die Griechische Wiesenotter, eine neue Vipernart in Europa. Terraria-Elaphe 2017 (4): 64 - get paper here
  • Martínez-Freiría, F., Toyama, K. S., Freitas, I., & Kaliontzopoulou, A. 2020. Thermal melanism explains macroevolutionary variation of dorsal pigmentation in Eurasian vipers. Scientific Reports, 10(1) - 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
  • MIZSEI, EDVÁRD; DANIEL JABLONSKI, STEPHANOS A. ROUSSOS, MARIA DIMAKI, YANNIS IOANNIDIS, GÖRAN NILSON & ZOLTÁN T. NAGY, 2017. Nuclear markers support the mitochondrial phylogeny of Vipera ursinii–renardi complex (Squamata: Viperidae) and species status for the Greek meadow viper. Zootaxa 4227 (1): 075–088 - 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 - get paper here
  • Radovics, D., Szabolcs, M., Lengyel, S. et al. 2023. Hide or die when the winds bring wings: predator avoidance by activity shift in a mountain snake. Front Zool 20, 17 (2023) - get paper here
  • Schweiger, M. 2009. Die Giftschlangen Europas. Eine Übersicht der Arten und Bemerkungen zu einzelnen Taxa. Reptilia (Münster) 14 (76): 14-25 - get paper here
  • Speybroeck, Jeroen; Wouter Beukema, Christophe Dufresnes, Uwe Fritz, Daniel Jablonski, Petros Lymberakis, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Edoardo Razzetti, Melita Vamberger, Miguel Vences, Judit Vörös0, Pierre-André Crochet 2020. Species list of the European herpetofauna – 2020 update by the Taxonomic Committee of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica.. Amphibia-Reptilia 41: 139-189 - get paper here
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