Vipera ursinii has a wide but very fragmented distribution covering several parts of Southern and Central Europe. The species is listed as Vulnerable (VU) in the IUCN Red List, with a decreasing population trend and is frequently considered as the most threatened European snake species.
The Moldavian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii moldavica) is an Eastern Romanian endemic and is considered Critically Endangered (CR) by the IUCN. Previous records for this subspecies exist from Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova but all those populations are currently considered extinct.
In Romania, the subspecies was historically recorded from 10 sites but only 6 are known to have persisted: three of them in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve and three in North-Eastern Romania, near the city of Iasi. The subspecies is a lowland grassland specialist and most of its natural habitat has been destroyed by expansion of agricultural fields and human settlements. All the remaining habitats where the subspecies occurs host a surprisingly great biodiversity. For example, in just one 45 ha habitat ("Valea lui David" Nature Reserve, near Iasi), almost 16% of the known vascular plant species of Romanian Moldavia have been recorded. The habitats also accommodate numerous threatened and protected animal species.
Aims of this project:
The main goals of the project are (i) establishing a solid scientific background for the conservation of the Moldavian meadow viper and (ii) holding a raising awareness campaign in the local community.
The first goal should be obtained by the following specific objectives:
-Assesing the current distribution of the subspecies in Romania: by modelling the bioclimatic niche, conducting field surveys in previously recorded and potential habitats.
-Assessing the status of the populations: size, density, age and sex-structure.
-Describing ecological characteristics: activity patterns, habitat selection and feeding ecology
-Describing threats, elaborating conservation recommendations and disseminating the results of the project via comprehensive reports to responsible institutions.
The second goal should be reached by communicating with the Media, organising lectures and distributing free educational materials of the target species in the communities located in vicinity to Moldavian meadow viper habitats: flyers, posters, t-shirts, etc.
Project 13257926 location - Romania, Europe