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Authors: Nemanja Ristic, Ljiljana Tomovic, Rastko Ajtic, Jelka Crnobrnja-Isailovic

Introduction

This paper presents the first record of Four-Lined Snake Elaphe quatuorlineata in Serbia. In Serbia and Montenegro, according to the literature data, this species was found only in Mediterranean and submediterranean Montenegro. We present here data about founding site and suggest conservation measures for this species in Serbia.


Herpetofauna of Serbia generally consists of Mediterranean and middle European elements (Dukic, 1995). The main Mediterranean refugia for amphibian and reptile species are Metohia, where climatic influences from the Adriatic Sea spread through the Drim River valley (Pasuljevic, 1968; Dukic and Pasuljevic, 1979; Ajtic and Tomovic, 2001) and the southernmost part of Serbia (i. e. Pcinja River valley, Crnobrnja-Isailovic and Aleksic, 1999; Tomovic et al., 2004).

 

Pcinja River is the left tributary of Vardar River a well known corridor for Mediterranean species that spread through the FYR of Macedonia to the north (Matvejev, 1961; Radovanovic, 1964; Matvejev and Puncer, 1989). The occurrence of Mediterranean elements have been confirmed for the wide-ranging area in FYR of Macedonia: Testudo graeca, Cyrtopodion kotschyi, Algyroides nigropunctatus, Lacerta trilineata, Podarcis erhardii, Pseudopus apodus, Typhlops vermicularis, Eryx jaculus, Platyceps najadum, Zamenis situla, Elaphe quatuorlineata, Malpolon monspessulanus and Telescopus fallax (Karaman, 1931, 1939; Radovanovic, 1951; Dimovski, 1963, 1966; Dukic, 1972; Brelih and Dukic, 1974). The presence of some Mediterranean reptile species in Pcinja River valley as the already mentioned taxa: Podarcis erhardii, Platyceps najadum and Testudo graeca (Dukic, 1995; Crnobrnja-Isailovic and Aleksic, 1999; Crnobrnja-Isailovic et al., 2004; Tomovic et al., 2004) are further support to the assumptions, based on vegetation data, that strong Mediterranean influences spread along the Vardar and Pcinja River valleys far into the mainland (Miic and Dinic, 1970; Randelovic and Stamenkovic, 1974; Zlatkovic and N. Ristic et alii Randelovic, 2004). Potential vegetation units at the Pcinja River valley include forests of Hungarian oak and Turkey oak – Quercetum-frainetto-cerris Rud. (1940) 1949 s. lat., which here display the influence of the Mediterranean, as well as moesian forests of Turkey oak – Quercetum cerris moesiacum E. Vuk. 1966 s. lat. (Jovanovic et al. 1986), at altitudes of 600-1200 m.
 

General distribution range of the Four-Lined Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata) includes: most of the Apennine Peninsula, the Balkan Peninsula – Mediterranean parts of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania; parts of Moldavia, Ukraine, the Russian Precaucasus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran (Böhme, 1997). But, populations previously regarded as subspecies Elaphe quatuorlineata sauromates were recently separated from E. quatuorlineata and raised to species rank (Lenk et al., 2001). According to Böhme (1997), in Serbia and Montenegro is present the subspecies Elaphe quatuorlineata quatuorlineata. Until now, Four-Lined snake was recorded only in southern Montenegro (e.g. Boka Kotorska, Bar, Ulcinj, Rumija, Skadar Lake region – Radovanovic, 1951; Dukic, 1972; Böhme and Szczerbak, 1993; Crnobrnja-Isailovic and Dukic, 1997).

 


During a field trip at the Pcinja River valley near the Macedonian-Serbian border (between Klenike village and St. Prohor Pcinjski Monastery, N42o38’33”, E21o09’00”, National Grid Reference, UTM 10x10 EM79, Fig. 1), on August the 11th 2005, one adult male of Four-Lined Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata Lacépède, 1789), was caught (by Ristic, N.). Individual was only photographed and immediately released (Fig. 2). Founding site is located at approximately 600 m a.s.l. Characteristic plant species of this area are Quercus pubescens, Quercus cerris, Carpinus orientalis and Juniperus oxycedrus. This individual was found in a rocky microhabitat facing south. Syntopic species were: Testudo hermanni, Lacerta viridis, Podarcis erhardii and Platyceps najadum.


Fig. 2. Adult male of Elaphe quatuorlineata from Pcinja River region.
 
This record extends the distribution range of E. quatuorlineata in this part of the species area, to the north (the closest record is Skoplje, over 50 km in a straight line to the south or approximately 80 km following the Mediterranean corridor from Pcinja valley to Skoplje – Karaman, 1939; Dimovski, 1966). We suppose that this population is situated at the species distribution edge in the central part of the Balkans. Although we found only one adult individual, more detailed field research is needed to evaluate the population and conservation status of this species in Serbia. Having in mind the fact that this is the only
 
founding site of this species in Serbia so far, E. quatuorlineata should urgently be added to the list of protected species in national conservation legislative of Republic of Serbia and to the Red Data Book of Serbia and Montenegro.

The presence of several Mediterranean species and very high diversity of amphibians and reptiles (Dukic, 1995) are the main arguments that suggest Pcinja River region to be included in the list of important herpetological areas in Serbia and Montenegro and for the Balkan Peninsula.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are grateful to M. Niketic for providing us the map of Serbia.

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Published under the Open Source License
Acta Herpetologica 1(2): 135-139, 2006
This site has information on the following genera of Ratsnakes ... Spilotes, Spalerosophis, Ptyas, Zamenis, Elaphe, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Pseudelaphe, Pantherophis, Bogertophis, Orthriophis, Gonyosoma, Oreocryptophis, Oocatochus, Euprepiophis, Coelognathus, Archelaphe