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Latifi's Viper (Montivipera latifii)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 14259037

Field surveys for studding phylogeography of Montivipera raddei species group.

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 14259037) - Latifi's Viper - Awarded $4,000 on October 03, 2014

The Montivipera species group consists of the venomous snakes with 5 known species and sub-species; Montivipera albicornuta, M.latifii, M.raddei raddei, M.raddei kurdistanica and M.kuhrangica, which their taxonomic situation is very controversial. These species live in alpine meadows from 1800 to more than 2800 meter from SL. The populations of these species are really fragmented and are posed to serious danger of extinction because of humane activities. Because of the high risk of extinction, M.latifii is sited in Endangered category, M.albicornuta is sited in Vulnerable category, and M.raddei is sited in Near Threatened category of IUCN Red List, the situation of M.kuhrangica has not yet been assessed for this list. The first step to apply the conservation plans is to know the exact taxonomic situation and precise distribution areas.

In this study we will search the specimen of this species group in their known distribution area and also the areas between where we have not found the specimen from this gender before, but the modelling of their habitats base on climatic, topographic and vegetation factors show that their presence is possible. Study area of this project is Alborz and Zagros Mountains in Iran, eastern Mountains of Turkey and southern Mountains of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The field studies have been started in spring 2013, continued in spring 2014 and will be continued in spring 2015 for 3 months in Iran.

This study has been carried out in the framework of a doctorate thesis in the laboratory “Biogéographie and Ecologie des Vertébrés (BEV)” within the “Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE)” which was established in 1961. 

The general thematic of the Biogéographie and Ecologie des Vertébrés (BEV) laboratory in CEFE is concerned with the dynamic and management of biodiversity that have direct applications in conservation biology of vertebrates. Three main axes are developed at different geographic and taxonomic scales: 1/ Impact of perturbations and environmental changes on vertebrate populations which aims at looking at the structure and responses of populations to various disturbances (fragmentation and loss of habitat, invasion, fire, etc). 2/ biogeography and settlement of vertebrate fauna in their spatial and temporal dimensions. The objective is to understand the role of historical factors (climatic, faunal or anthropogenic) on the distribution, structure and differentiation of the present fauna. 3/ Monitoring and conservation of biodiversity, in relation with the definition of management units. These general themes are developed on several vertebrate taxa (reptiles, birds and mammals) mainly from the Mediterranean area, with a special focus on rare and/or threatened, fragmented and/or insular species. These researches are conducted with the objectives to contribute to biodiversity conservation and thus request to integrate different knowledge, such as in evolutionary history, biogeography, ecology, demography, and genetics in order to lead to efficient measures of protections. Such complementary approaches have been conducted in the BEV team on different species including vipers (Lyet et al., 2009; Ferchaud et al., 2011, 2012), tortoise (Zenboudji, 2011; Couturier et al., 2013), lizards (Mouret et al., 2011) or birds (Kaboli et al., 2007; Aliabadian et al., 2012). More specifically, biogeography and evolutionary scenarios are inferred from the patterns of intra and interspecific diversity as deduced from genetic markers (sequencing of mitochondrial genes and analysis of microsatellites).

Project 14259037 location - Iran, Asia