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Distribution, natural history and morphometrics of the critically endangered Coluber hippocrepis populations of Sardinia: a review, with additional data and conservation implications

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Abstract. The horseshoe snake (Coluber hippocrepis) is one of the most threatened Italian snakes, especially in Sardinia where its present occurrence was unclear. This paper reviews the current distribution of C. hippocrepis in Sardinia, and confirms that this species is still found in a limited number of sites of Cagliari province. Its actual presence in Oristano province, on the contrary, is still in doubt. Statistical analyses on several morphometric measurements taken from museum specimens suggest that snakes from the central Mediterranean area (Sardinia, Pantelleria, and Tunisia) are distinguished from those of the western Mediterranean area (Portugal and Morocco) by having significantly higher numbers of ventrals. A few natural-history notes on Sardinian specimens are presented, and a rationale for an urgent conservation plan is given.

Affiliations: 1: Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Università degli Studi di Firenze, via Romana 17, I-50125 Firenze, Italia; 2: Centro di Studi Ambientali ''Demetra'', via dei Cochi 48/B, I-00133 Roma, Italia; and F.I.Z.V., via Cleonia 30, I-00152 Roma, Italia; and Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, piazza Aristide Frezza 6, I-00030 Capranica Prenestina, Roma, Italia; 3: via Gabrio Casati 43, I-00139 Roma, Italia; 4: Museo Civico di Zoologia, Sezione di Erpetologia, via Ulisse Aldrovandi 20, I-00197 Roma, Italia


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