SEH grant 2020

Oleksandr Zinenko, Edvárd Mizsei and Andrii Tupikov

Landscape ecology approach to understand local extinctions of the steppe viper

The meadow and steppe vipers (Vipera ursinii-renardi complex) are among the most threatened reptiles in Europe, with main drivers of extinction believed to be habitat loss. Distribution of meadow vipers is now stabilized on very low level due to conservation efforts, while V. renardi depending on geographical region are demonstrating different stages of decline up to recently documented local extinction. The project aims to apply remote sensing and modelling calibrated with field data to evaluate habitat quality and determine minimal and optimal habitat requirements and landscape features for the existence and persistence of steppe viper populations. Remote sensing and field survey will provide data about how viable habitats looks, model will be built and consequently evaluated with second round of field surveys. This will help to formulate conservation measures, find out, how restored habitats must look like. As an additional outcome it is expected to obtain new data about species presence, including possible rediscovery of some historical populations, updating NA2RE database with records, provide information for regional action plan and the upcoming IUCN Red List assessment.