Finding of the Steppe Viper in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine
Introduction. The Steppe Viper (Vipera renardi (Cristoph, 1861)) is listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine and protected in Ukraine according to Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. The population of the species in Ukraine had decreased during the last decades, its northern range border had shifted to the south. The Steppe Viper has been didn’t find was not recorded in Cherkasy Oblast during the last 90 years.
Purpose. The aim of the present study was to present data on current distribution of the Steppe Viper on the left bank of the Dnieper in Cherkasy Oblast and to put it into context of distribution of this species in Ukraine.
Methods. Materials has been collected during 2014-2019 in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine, in the forest-steppe zone.
Results. Steppe viper has been found in two localities: in Zolotonosha Rajon near vil. Khvylovo-Sorochyn one Steppe Viper was observed 05.07.2015 and four specimens were seen 23.04.2019. In addition, two snakes were found and reported on Facebook by user Viktor Oleksenko. Snakes were observed 23.06.2014 near vil. Vilkhy (Zolotonosha Rajon, Cherkasy Oblast). In all cases snakes were observed on open places with herbaceous plants near glades or at the edge of a mixed pine-oak forest, situated on the Dnieper left bank sandy terrace at the place of its’ confluence with Zolotonoshka river. These habitats are not typical for this species in Southern Ukraine, within Steppe zone. Similar isolated populations of the Steppe Viper are existing in other regions of Ukrainian Forest Steppe: Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv.
Conclusion. Our research confirms presence of small isolated populations of the Steppe Viper in the Ukrainian Forest Steppe, on the Dnieper’s left bank. Habitats along the large river valleys have an important role for conservation this species in Forest steppe.
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