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Authors: Paul Lucian IBU & Alexandru STRUGARIU
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Biology, Bucharest, Romania. e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Faculty of Biology, Iasi, Romania. e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Introduction

Elaphe sauromates is a critically endangered species in Romania, being cited in the past in very few localities from south-eastern Romania (Dobrudja and Moldavia). On the 13th of May, 2007, a young adult female Elaphe sauromates was found in the geographical unit of “Subcarpatii de curbur?”, near the “Vulcanii Noroiosi Pâclele Mari” Nature Reserve in the administrative territory of Pâclele, in Buz?u county (Romania). This is the first sighting of this species outside of Dobrudja for the past 70 years and the first ever record for this species in this region of Romania.


  Elaphe sauromates is known to occur in European Turkey, North-Eastern Greece, the South-Eastern and the Danube area of Bulgaria and south-eastern Romania (Fuhn & Vancea 1961). Recently, this species has also been identified in the Republic of Moldavia (?urcanu V., pers. comm. 2007). Romania lies at the northern limit of this species’ range, with Elaphe sauromates being previously recorded in very few and scattered locations from Dobrudja and Moldavia. Fuhn & Vancea (1961) cited this species, in the counties of Constan?a, Tulcea and Gala?i, based on previously published records. According to a more recently published review on the records of this species in Romania, one based both on previously published papers and on data personally collected by the author and verbal communications from other naturalists, only 42 - 45 specimens of Elaphe sauromates have been recorded/collected in Romania since prior to 2006 (Torok 2006). This review also indicates bibliographical references of records of the blotched snake in the counties of Iasi (B?cescu 1937) and Vrancea (Honigmann 1917, Mertens 1927). However, the most recent previous record of Elaphe sauromates outside of Dobrudja dates back to 1937 (B?cescu 1937, Fuhn & Vancea 1961, Torok 2006). Despite the numerous records of this species for Dobrudja, this species is very rare within the region. For example, the most recent field study on the herpetofauna of Dobrudja revealed the presence of Elaphe sauromates in only 4 localities (Covaciu-Marcov et al 2006). In the Romanian red data book of vertebrates, the Moldavian popu-lations are shown as extinct (Iftime 2005).


On the 13th of May, 2007, at 16.00 h. a young adult (total length circa 100cm) female Elaphe sauromates was captured approximately 500-600 m north of the “Vulcanii Noroio?i Pâclele Mari” Nature Reserve (fig. 1), in the administrative territory of the locality of Pâclele, Buz?u County. At the moment of capture, the snake was lying in an open field, partially coiled in the short grass. The specimen was photographed and subsequently released into its natural habitat (fig.2, 3).

The geographic coordinates of the area are 45º20’40.61’’ N and 26º42’46.80’’ E and the altitude is 315-320m ASL. The habitat in which the snake was found was that of a small hill with typical steppe vegetation (mostly Stipa sp. and Fescuta sp.) with a few scattered bushes (Prunus spinosus and Rosa canina ). One species of amphibian (Bombina variegata ) and two other species of reptiles (Lacerta viridis and Lacerta agilis ) were also recorded in the area in which the blotched snake was found.

Elaphe sauromates is considered critically endangered in the Romanian red data book of vertebrates, and is likely to be represented in Romania by less than a few hundred individuals (Iftime 2005). Being a typical species of the steppe regions (Fuhn & Vancea 1961, Fuhn 1969, Iftime 2005), it has probably lost most of its original habitat due to the rapid extension of agricultural fields in all parts of its range.


Furthermore, Elaphe sauromates is mentioned in Annex 2 of of the Order MMGA 1198/2005, the conservation of this species demanding the establishment of “Special Areas of Conservation” (SAC) – as part of the Natura 2000 network. In order to establish correct conservation measures for the herpetological fauna, the precise distribution of the species must be known (Ghira et al 2002). Therefore, taking the rarity of Elaphe sauromates in Romania and the scarcity of the data with regards to its distribution into consideration, it is the authors’ opinion that more thorough herpetological studies of the “Subcarpa?ii de Curbur?” area are required in order to establish this species’ distribution and situation in the area.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors of the present note are indebted to Iulian Gherghel for providing the maps and geographical indications for the area.
REFERENCES

1. B?cescu, M. (1937): Câteva interesante date herpetologice pentru fauna României ?i unele propuneri de rezerva?ii naturale în leg?tur? cu ele. Revista ?tiin?ific? “V. Adamachi” 23 (3): 122-128

2. Covaciu-Marcov, S.D., Ghira, I., Cicort-Lucaciu, A.?t., Sas, I., Strugariu, A., Bogdan, H.V. (2006): Contributions to knowledge regarding the geographical distribution of the herpetofauna of Dobrudja, Romania. North-Western Journal of Zoology 2 (2): 88-125.

3. Fuhn, I.E., Vancea, ?t. (1961): “Fauna R.P.R.”, vol. XIV, Fascicola II, Reptilia. Editura Academiei R.P.R., Bucure?ti: 1-352.

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5. Ghira, I., Venczel, M., Covaciu-Marcov S.-D., Mara, Gy., Ghile, P., Hartel, T., Török, Z., Farkas, L., Rácz, T., Farkas, Z., Brad, T. (2002): Mapping of Transylvanian Herpetofauna. Nymphaea, Folia Naturae Bihariae, Oradea, XXIX, 145 – 203.

6. Honigmann, H.L. (1917): (note without title). Blatter fur Aquarium und Terrariumkunde no. 28: 237-238.

7. Iftime, Al. (2005): Reptilia. În: “Cartea Ro?ie a Vertebratelor din România”, editori: Botnariuc & Tatole. Ed. Acad. Române, 1-325.

8. Mertens, R. (1921): Die Amphibien und Reptilien der Walachei und Dobrudscha II : Die Reptilien. Senkenbergiana 3: 20-23. Frankfurt am Main.

9. Torok, Z. (2006): GIS technique used for managing data on potential Natura 2000 sites. Case study: areas inhabited by Elaphe quatorlineata. Sc. Annals of DDI, vol. 12: 201-210.

10. ***** Ordin Nr. 1198 din 25/11/2005, Publicat in Monitorul Oficial, Partea I nr. 1097 din 6/12/2005. ANEXA nr. 2: Specii de plante si animale a c?ror conservare necesit? desemnarea ariilor speciale de conservare ?i a ariilor de protec?ie avifaunistic?.
First published in North Western Journal of Zoology, 3, 2007
Published under the terms of the Open Access Policy
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