New Evidence on the Distribution of the Highly Endangered Natrix natrix cypriaca and Implications for Its Conservation
Savvas Zotos, Marilena Stamatiou, Andrea Naziri, Sotiris Meletiou, Stalo Demosthenous, Konstantinos Perikleous, Elena Erotokritou, Marina Xenophontos, Despo Zavrou, Kyriaki Michael, Lefkios Sergides.
Animals, 11(4), 1077, April 2021.
The Cyprus grass snake (Natrix natrix cypriaca) is a critically endangered subspecies, endemic to the island of Cyprus. The species can be found in areas mainly related to water (lakes, dams and rivers), that are protected under the Natura 2000 network. Recently volunteers reported sightings of the species outside of its currently known distribution. To address those reports and investigate the possible presence of the species outside its distribution, a rapid survey approach was designed and implemented. The survey provided evidence on several sightings outside of the species’ distribution, identifying new localities for the first time in 25 years and highlighting the importance of sparse springs within systems of ephemeral streams for the species population. This exciting discovery brings new opportunities and responsibilities regarding the conservation of the species. We are proposing targeted conservation actions and stress the importance of expanding the research on this critically endangered subspecies, based on current findings.