V. anatolica just recently elevated to species status (Nilson and Andren, 2001). According to new genetic data (Kalyabina-Hauf et al., 2004; our unpublished results) it represents unique taxon of ancient lineage of small vipers, the only species and relict in the Western Anatolia, equal in divergence level to separate species complexes like steppe and meadow vipers (Vipera ursinii and Vipera renardi), Caucasian vipers (Vipera kaznakovi), or common adder (Vipera berus). Since description of the species, not more than five specimens were found in 60th and 80th (Nilson and Andren, 2001). No additional specimens were found by several herpetologists, who visited site. Area, covered by population is not known precisely, nothing known about current conditions of habitats, their number, density of populations, number of subpopulation, level of genetic diversity, very critical in small vipers restricted populations (Madsen et al., 1999), threats. In spite of being inside protected area (forest reserve Çığlıkara Ormanlı), the species could be rapidly lost due to local forestry, overgrazing or other human activity, not prohibited there. In case of fast progress in terra typica we intend to search for additional populations in neighbor regions, which could represent new, geographically restricted, subpopulations with an own taxonomic status. All potential habitats of small vipers in Western Anatolia are mountain plateaus above 1700 meters, isolated by lowlands and valleys and restricted in size and therefore it is important to localize any new representatives of the V. anatolica before they go extinct.
In the second stage of the project we will analyze genetic samples in the laboratory of Natural History Museum of Braunschweig to identify basic genetic characteristics of population: genetic diversity, effective number of population, past demography etc.
The main objectives of the project are
- outline population of V. anatolica in Çığlıkara Ormanlı reserve
- assess population size
- collect in not invasive way genetic samples for further population genetics analyses in the laboratory of Natural History Museum of Braunschweig
- describe flora and landscape in the site
- receive other data about species ecology (activity pattern, main food items, temperature preferences)
- identify main threats
- send report with recommendations about species protection to environmental ministry of Turkey, improve awareness of local community and authorities about critical situation of unique species of snake endemic for Turkey
- describe genetic diversity and infer demography and viability of population, based on genetic data
- make ecological modeling of potential range
- visit potential sites, identified via modeling and search for new populations
Project 12254979 location - Turkey, Asia