Article

Natrix tessellata on Golem Grad, FYR of Macedonia: a natural fortress shelters a prosperous snake population

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... Intuition indeed suggests that peculiar habitats should shape individuals and pop- ulation functioning in particular way. We targeted a very dense population that occupies a small island (Golem Grad) situated in an altitude lake (FYR of Macedonia;Sterijovski et al., 2011) where the habitat and the climatic conditions are strongly divergent com- pared to previous studies that were essentially performed in low altitude and/or river populations in Western Europe. In addition, insularity deeply influences a wide range of life history traits, notably through dietary, predation, and density dependent pro- cesses ( Bonnet et al., 1999;Boback, 2003;Buckley and Jetz, 2007;Aubret and Shine, 2009). ...
... In addition, insularity deeply influences a wide range of life history traits, notably through dietary, predation, and density dependent pro- cesses ( Bonnet et al., 1999;Boback, 2003;Buckley and Jetz, 2007;Aubret and Shine, 2009). As our study population accumulates a set of unusual characteristics, cool climatic region, high population density, and insularity (Sterijovski et al., 2011), we expected strong shifts in morphological and ecological traits. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: A global overview on the diet of the dice snake (Natrix tessellata) from a geographical perspective: foraging in atypical habitats and feeding spectrum widening helps colonisation and survival under suboptimal conditions for a piscivorous snake Abstract Background: The dice snake (Natrix tessellata Laurenti, 1768) is generally considered to be a fully or partially piscivorous freshwater snake species. The aim of the study was to make the first global overview on the taxonomy and geographical distribution of the species based on own observations, available databases and the special literature. Results: Besides freshwaters, N. tessellata turned out to hunt also in marine and terrestrial habitats predating on at least 29 and 15 species, respectively. On the basis of our data and the literature altogether, 113 prey taxa, mostly fish, were listed but 20% of them were invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The importance of non-fish species in the diet was especially pronounced in deserts, high mountains and in dry Mediterranean areas. In spite of the wide feeding spectrum, only fish and amphibians were found to be predominant food items over the whole species' range. Fish dominated the catch of the dice snake in most quantitative studies, except one survey in Turkey, where the ratio of non-fish prey items was over 50%. Conclusions: The global analysis of the diet of the dice snake revealed a feeding spectrum characteristically changing over the broad distribution area including non-fish prey as well as taxa from marine and terrestrial habitats. The analysis of the feeding spectrum separated four large geographical units with further distinctions in Central and Eastern Europe. Such diversity helps explain why this species was able to colonise a large and diverse Eurasian range.
Conference Paper
Population studies on three reptile species (Testudo hermanni, Natrix tessellata and Vipera ammodytes) were established in 2007 on a small island in Prespa Lake. The island of Golem Grad is part of the National Park “Galicica“ and has a status of a strictly protected area. The research was done on the area of the whole island (plateau and beaches of approximately 20 ha) in three periods of the active season in six consecutive years. Since the beginning of the studies more than 1600 tortoises, 5000 dice snakes and 350 nose horned vipers were marked. These results of the CMR study are excellent matrix for precise estimation of the population density and size, indicating that these are among the densest populations of these species in the world. This suggests that the reptile populations on the island are prosperous and can be a model system for future ecology studies on reptiles in other parts of the country or elsewhere. Also the results can contribute to determine the protection status and conservation measures on national level for these species. Key words: population studies, reptiles, island Golem Grad
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