Spatial Ecology of Armenian Vipers, Montivipera raddei, in Two Different Landscapes: Human-Modified vs. Recovered-Natural

Jeffery A. Ettling, Levon A. Aghasyan, Aram L. Aghasyan, Patricia G. Parker

Abstract


Armenian Vipers, Montivipera raddei, have a range that includes Armenia and portions of eastern Turkey, western Azerbaijan, and northwestern Iran. They have a fragmented and restricted distribution that has been severely impacted by human activities, namely habitat alteration/degradation and over-collection for the pet trade, over the past 40 years. We used radiotelemetry to study and compare the spatial ecology of Armenian Vipers inhabiting a human-modified landscape near Abovian in Koytak Province and a recovered-natural landscape in Shikahogh State Reserve in Syunik Province. Radio-tracking at Abovian took place during 2008 – 2009 (8 males, 6 females) and during 2010 – 2012 at Shikahogh State Reserve (7 males, 4 females). Prey surveys were conducted at both sites to evaluate the abundance of small mammals. We found significant differences between the two populations in terms of home range size and mean movements. Home range and movements were significantly larger in the human-modified landscape. We found no difference in body condition between the two landscapes or a correlation between body condition and home range size. Prey abundance was significantly higher in the recovered-natural landscape. While the conservation of intact natural habitat should be given the highest priority, management strategies in agricultural landscapes should include both the inclusion of corridors to allow for movement between parcels of habitat and the maintenance of high quality habitat within these landscapes to provide cover and food for both small mammals and vipers.

Keywords


Montivipera raddei; spatial ecology; radiotelemetry; prey abundance; body condition; landscapes

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2019-23-%25s-93-102

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