The herpetofauna of Alonissos (Northern Sporades, ?· The herpetofauna of Alonissos (Northern Sporades,…

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<ul><li><p>The herpetofauna of Alonissos (Northern Sporades, Greece)</p><p>(Amphibia, Reptilia)</p><p>Die Herpetofauna von Alonissos (Nrdliche Sporaden, Griechenland)(Amphibia, Reptilia)</p><p>MARIO F. BROGGI</p><p>KURZFASSUNG</p><p>Die Nordsporadeninsel Alonissos wird kurz naturkundlich beschrieben. Es werden die bisherige herpeto-logische Literatur dargelegt und die Neufunde aufgefhrt. Es sind dies Pelophylax ridibundus, Testudo margina-ta, Telescopus fallax und Zamenis situla. Auf der Insel wurde eine melanotische Schlange festgestellt, die ver-mutlich Hierophis caspius darstellt. Damit sind bisher 13 Amphibien- und Reptilienarten auf der Insel Alonnisosnachgewiesen.</p><p>ABSTRACT</p><p>The natural history of the island of Alonissos in the Northern Sporades is briefly described. The existingherpetological literature is presented and the new finds listed, namely Pelophylax ridibundus, Testudo marginata,Telescopus fallax and Zamenis situla. A melanistic snake, presumably Hierophis caspius, was also found. A totalof 13 species of amphibians and reptiles has been reported for Alonissos.</p><p>KEY WORDS</p><p>Amphibia, Reptilia, Pelophylax ridibundus, Testudo marginata, Telescopus fallax, Zamenis situla,Hierophis caspius melanistic form, new island records, Island of Alonissos, Northern Sporades, Greece</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>HERPETOZOA 23 (1/2): 71 - 78 71Wien, 30. Juli 2010</p><p>The name Northern Sporades is main-ly associated with the tourist islands of Ski-athos and Skopelos and not so much withAlonissos the third biggest of the Sporadesislands. Covering an area of approximately64 km2, Alonissos lies only about three kilo-metres north-east of Skopelos and is a longand narrow partly forested island. The bed-rock is mainly limestone and the highestpoint of the central chain of hills is 493meters above sea level (Kouvouli). The for-est dominating the southern part of the is-land is mainly Aleppo pine (Pinus halepen-sis), and olive groves are also widespread.The pine forests are a substitute for the orig-inal oak trees, which were felled to buildships at Roman times. The often dense maquis in the center of the island is com-prised of Quercus coccifera, Qu. ilex andArbutus unedo. The northern part of the is-land is phrygana grazing land. Near AghiosDimitrios there is a small lagoon (Fig. 1),which dries out in late spring and is an</p><p>important stopover habitat for migratorybirds (CATSADORAKIS &amp; PARAGAMIAN 2007). </p><p>Given the absence of sandy beachesand the islands remote location, Alonissoshas remained largely unaffected by masstourism. It is the only inhabited island lo-cated in the freely accessible Zone B of aNational Marine Park established in 1992(SPANGENBERG 2005). Alonissos is also partof a Natura 2000 site (GR 1430004). As athinly populated island with some 1800 in-habitants living mostly in the south, Alonis-sos has become an attractive destination toindividual nature tourists. The island has 14well marked paths, with two hiking guidesdescribing the trails (BROWNE 2008; HEIT-MANN 2006). A nature guide to the NorthernSporades was published by the nature pro-tection organization Euronatur (HUTTER &amp;HAU 2001). Concerning details of its natu-ral history, however, there are only few pub-lications about the island of Alonissos. Anumber of papers deal with the flora of the</p><p>Broggi_Alonissos_full_condensed.qxd 06.08.2010 14:50 Seite 1</p><p>sterreichische Gesellschaft fr Herpetologie e.V., Wien, Austria, download unter www.biologiezentrum.at</p></li><li><p>72 M. F. BROGGI</p><p>Fig. 1: The only wetland on the island of Alonissos, the lagoon of Aghios Dimitrios.Abb. 1: Das einzige Feuchtgebiet auf der Insel Alonissos, die Lagune von Aghios Dimitrios.</p><p>Fig. 2: A large water reservoir is being constructed in the valley of the Kastanorema stream in the north-west of the island of Alonissos.</p><p>Abb. 2: Im Nordwesten der Insel Alonissos im Tal des Kastanoremabaches wird ein groes Wasser-Retentionsbecken gebaut.</p><p>Broggi_Alonissos_full_condensed.qxd 06.08.2010 14:50 Seite 2</p><p>sterreichische Gesellschaft fr Herpetologie e.V., Wien, Austria, download unter www.biologiezentrum.at</p></li><li><p>The herpetofauna of Alonissos 73</p><p>Fig. 3: Dolichophis caspius was the most frequently encountered snake on the island of Alonissos.Abb. 3: Dolichophis caspius war die am hufigsten beobachtete Schlange der Insel Alonissos.</p><p>smaller off-shore islands of Gioura, Skant-zoura, Psathura, Kyra Panagia and Piperi.There is also a publication on orchids of theNorthern Sporades, which touches on someaspects of natural history (LOWE 1999).Local natural history also played a role inthe feasibility study produced for thenational park (MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRON-MENT 2002) and in LEGAKIS (2004) surveyof the terrestrial biodiversity of the marinepark </p><p>The literature</p><p>No herpetological study dedicated ex-clusively to Alonissos is available. Detailsof record localities on Alonissos were pro-vided by CYRN (1935, 1941), BUCHHOLZ &amp;SCHULTZE-WESTRUM (1964), GRUBER &amp;SCHULTZE-WESTRUM (1971), GRILLITSCH &amp;TIEDEMANN (1984), CRUCITTI &amp; TRINGALI(1987) and CATTANEO (1998). Neither WER-NER (1930, 1938a, 1938b) nor WETTSTEIN(1953, 1957) had visited the island or addedsubstancial new information to the knowl-</p><p>edge of its herpetofauna in their standardworks on amphibians and reptiles of Greece. </p><p>For Alonissos, CATTANEO (1998) listedseven taxa, namely (in his notation) Cyrto-podion kotschyi fuchsi BEUTLER &amp; GRUBER,1977, Hemidactylus t. turcicus (LINNAEUS,1758), Lacerta t. trilineata BEDRIAGA, 1886,Podarcis erhardii ruthveni WERNER, 1930,Ablepharus k. kitaibelii (BIBRON &amp; BORY,1833), Coluber caspius GMELIN, 1789 andVipera ammodytes meridionalis BOULENGER,1903. The addenda to CHONDROPOULOS(1989) also included Malpolon monspessu-lanus insignitus (GOFFROY, 1827) reportedfor Alonissos by CRUCITTI &amp; TRINGALI(1987). A query addressed to Augusto CAT-TANEO (17 July 2009) met with a referenceto his work on Skyros, Skopelos and Alo-nissos (CATTANEO 1998), in which he sug-gested that CRUCITTI &amp; TRINGALI (1987) hadconfused M. monspessulanus insignituswith the Large Whip Snake Dolichophiscaspius (GMELIN, 1789). The presence ofMalpolon on nearby Skiathos (BUCHHOLTZ&amp; SCHULTZE-WESTRUM 1964), Skopelos</p><p>Broggi_Alonissos_full_condensed.qxd 06.08.2010 14:50 Seite 3</p><p>sterreichische Gesellschaft fr Herpetologie e.V., Wien, Austria, download unter www.biologiezentrum.at</p></li><li><p>(WERNER 1938a), Skandzoura and GiouraLEGAKIS (2004), however, should make onehesitate to adopt CATTANEOs view uncriti-cally. GRILLITSCH &amp; TIEDEMANN (1984)mentioned that the presence of Rana ridi-bunda PALLAS, 1771 and Testudo marginataSCHOEPFF, 1886 on Alonissos was plausiblyreported to them by the local people.</p><p>For the neighboring island of Sko-pelos, CATTANEO (1999, Tab. 4) mentionedeleven taxa, namely (in his notation) Bufoviridis LAURENTI, 1768, Rana ridibunda PAL-LAS, 1771, Mauremys caspica rivulata (VA-LENCIENNES, 1833), Elaphe quatuorlineata(LACPDE, 1789), Malpolon monspessula-nus fuscus (FLEISCHMANN, 1831) and Elaphesitula (LINNAEUS, 1758), plus all the speciesfound on Alonissos, except Dolichophis cas-pius and V. ammodytes. According to BUCH-HOLZ &amp; SCHULTZE-WESTRUM (1964), howev-er, V. ammodytes is to be found on Skopelos,and Hyla arborea (LINNAEUS, 1758) wasobserved by Antonia CABELA (Vienna) in1984 (H. GRILLITSCH, Vienna, in litt.).</p><p>The authors observations and other investigations</p><p>Our visit to Alonissos took place on 13- 25 April 2009. The weather was cool andwet at times, which was a disadvantage forherpetological field work. In spite of theheavy rainfalls reported by locals for the2008/09 winter, no flowing or standingwater was found on the island apart from theabove-mentioned lagoon. Most of thesprings were encased. In the northeast ofAlonissos, to cope with the low summerrainfall, a dam was being constructed acrossthe bed of the Kastanorema stream (Fig. 2),creating a freshwater reservoir. This hugestructure built with EU funding is very mucha foreign body in this Arcadian landscape.</p><p>With the exception of the Nose-horned Viper V. ammodytes, all the previ-ously reported species were found in thecourse of our visit to the island. Hemidacty-lus turcicus was seen on the very first dayon our walk up to the Aristotle Studios in thebay of Roussoum Gialos near Patitiri, andseveral more finds were made under variouswell covers. Kotschys Gecko Cyrtopodionkotschyi, on the other hand, was seen onlyonce, on April 23, in a stone wall of an ab-</p><p>andoned olive grove located to the north ofTourkovighia Hill (path no. 8). It is worthnoting that, in the Aegean Archipelago,Kotschys Gecko can be rare on the mainisland and yet is frequently seen on thesmaller offshore neighboring islets (forLipsi, see BROGGI 2008). Erhards Wall Liz-ard P. erhardii was to be found everywhereon the island, but only very sporadic sight-ings of the Balkan Green Lizard L. trilinea-ta, were made. The Snake-eyed Skink A.kitaibelii, was a common sight, especially inthe pine forests. Because of the cool weath-er, few snakes were seen apart from theLarge Whip Snake D. caspius, which wascommon. According to Jannis VLAIKOS, anexpert on the islands natural history, hedge-hogs were released on Alonissos by a hte-lier in 1967 in an attempt to reduce thesnake populations and has since spreadacross the whole island. Several specimensof the Eastern Hedgehog (Erinaceus concol-or) were found run over on the islandsroads, and a living hedgehog was sighted bythe lagoon near Aghios Dimitrios. </p><p>Dolichophis caspius (Fig. 3) is eithermore resistant to the cold or simply occursmore frequently on Alonissos than othersnake species. At all events, it was foundabout a dozen times throughout the island,either in the terrain, basking in the warmthof the roads or as traffic casualties. Thelongest specimens must have been morethan 1.5 m long. </p><p>Near Kalamakia we observed a MarshHarrier (Circus aeruginosus) capture andfly away with an unmarked snake about 80cm in length. In spite of the disturbance wecaused, the bird did not abandon its prey butsimply flew further away. On April 19, a40-50 cm long snake was found under astone in an olive grove near Patitiri in thesouth of the island. Our first impressionwas that this was a melanistic juvenile of thegenus Dolichophis. At certain angles oflight it was possible to make out regularbanding on the young snakes back. Thesmooth-scaled snake had a head that was lit-tle wider than the neck and a uniformly lightyellow belly. A number of photographswere taken (Fig. 4). In my opinion the snakewas a Large Whip Snake (D. caspius), how-ever, according to ERBAK &amp; BHME(1993), melanistic forms of this species had</p><p>74 M. F. BROGGI</p><p>Broggi_Alonissos_full_condensed.qxd 06.08.2010 14:50 Seite 4</p><p>sterreichische Gesellschaft fr Herpetologie e.V., Wien, Austria, download unter www.biologiezentrum.at</p></li><li><p>not been reported. CATTANEO (1998), on theother hand, pointed to the presence of mela-nistic D. caspius on Alonissos. </p><p>The opinions of various experts con-sulted with regard to the correct classifica-tion of the snake on the photographs can besummarized as follows: Heinz GRILLITSCH(Natural History Museum Vienna) support-ed my classification (e-mail dated 2009.7.24) with a residual element of uncertainty inthat he pointed to the occurrence of Hier-ophis gemonensis/laurenti (LAURENTI,1768) in the region (e.g. nearby mainlandand Aspronisi, SCHULTZE-WESTRUM 1964;HENLE 1993), and of the dark individuals ofthe taxon gyarosensis on the island ofGaidaros, 200 km to the south of Alonissos(MERTENS 1968; BHME 1993; UTIGER &amp;SCHTTI 2004). For Beat SCHTTI, a recog-nized Coluber sens. lat. expert (e-mail dated7.9.2009), the veiled dorsal markings wouldsuggest Dolichophis jugularis (LINNAEUS,1758). It must be remembered, however,that the nearest occurrence of this species isin Anatolia and the Dodecanese. In May2009 Mrs. Waltraud ALBERTI of Mourtero onAlonissos sent me photographs of anotherdark snake that had been run over, which Ialso considered to be D. caspius whereas H.GRILLITSCH (e-mail dated 2009.9.15) againwas not absolutely sure whether the photo-graphs undoubtedly represented caspius.Thus some uncertainty remains, all the moreso as no genetic analyses have been per-formed. Further investigations are required. </p><p>New finds on Alonissos</p><p>Pelophylax ridibundus (PALLAS, 1771).The Lake Frog belongs to the herpetofaunaof the island of Skopelos immediately to thenorth-west of Alonissos (CATTANEO 1999).It is also said to occur on the eastern off-shore island of Kyra Panagia (Ministry ofthe Environment 2002). According toGRILLITSCH &amp; TIEDEMANN (1984), local resi-dents stated that the Lake Frog was to befound on Alonissos, too. This was con-firmed by elderly islanders, who said thefrog used to be present in very large num-bers. With regard to the occurrence of Pelo-phylax ridibundus, the authors of the man-agement plan for the National Marine Park(Ministry of the Environment 2002) wrote,</p><p>It is believed that they occur on Alonissos.At our meeting on 16 April 2009, NationalPark Manager Vasilis KOUROUTOS said thathe had heard locals speak of a site aroundAghios Dimitrios. One of the members ofour party, Christian BURRI, was convincedthat he had heard frog calls near path no. 11,south of the dry Kasanorema stream bed, i.e.in the vicinity of Aghios Dimitrios on April21. A follow-up visit to the dry Kasanoremafailed to locate any Lake Frogs, as did a visitto the lagoon near Aghios Dimitrios. Wealso received a report of the presence of theLake Frog in the little valley to the north-west of Patitiri, along path no. 4, in the direc-tion of Chora. Jannis VLAIKOS, manager ofthe local fishing co-operative and a memberof the National Park Council, told us thatabout 50 specimens of the Lake Frog hadbeen brought from neighboring Skopelosand released there in the 1950s in an attemptto control the mosquitoes. According to J.VLAIKOS, the population flourished in thewet valley above Patitiri until the 1980s butthen declined when ground water pumpsreplaced the old open cisterns for irrigationpurposes. However, he reported seeing adead frog on the road to Patitiri in 2008. It isapparent that the change-over in the irriga-tion system is causing problems for the am-phibians on Alonissos, too, and that the LakeFrog is in danger of extinction on the island.</p><p>Testudo marginata SCHOEPFF, 1886.GRILLITSCH &amp; TIEDEMANN (1984) quotedlocal informants as saying that a few speci-mens of the Marginated Tortoise were to befound in the mountains. The authors of themanagement plan for the National MarinePark (Ministry of the Environment 2002)also said that they heard of sightings. Thepresence of the Marginated Tortoise on Alo-nissos was confirmed by our expedition. OnApril 16 , in a location...</p></li></ul>