Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Fri May 19, 2017 8:03 pm

An alien? :o :lol:

alien.jpg


And a captured gemonensis with a very bad, rotting tail... :?
capured1.jpg

captured2 tail.jpg
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Fri May 19, 2017 8:10 pm

There are many other pictures, sure, but I want to end with these two.

A baby 4lined which I saw at the edge of a trafficked road (on the stone wall you can see in the picture)

baby cervo.jpg


And a male situla which I literally found crawling under my feet while walking... :D

leopard feet.jpg
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Fri May 19, 2017 8:16 pm

An alien? :o :lol:

Bravo, maestro! This is much, much more than most people have succeeded attempting to portray a
Pseudopus apodus. When caught, they play dead, including the facial expression. This one of yours
has at least SOME expression, though not very warm and friendly.
Should we organize a competition? Maybe someone else got even more than that?
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sat May 20, 2017 7:42 am

Thanks Bero! :D :lol:

cervone.jpg


What have I learned and what can I say with my last trip to these islands?

I've learned that even in springs at our latitudes, and not only in the tropics, you must look very carefully also in the shadow to find reptiles: aesculapian snakes, and not only they, are not always found in the sun or between sun and shadow... :P

And what can I say?
Every year you find a little fewer reptiles than the preceeding one.
The two main reasons for this slow decline are always the same: road traffic at first (with hundreds of reptile victims every year); introduced wild boars at second place.

This year we found rather cool temperatures. Probably (?) it was very hot in april and many snakes had already done what was necessary for them (basking, feeding and mating). Anyway: very few adults quatuorlineata were to find in places where in the past we used to find always many individuals. And almost no Malpolon to find: in a place where I was sure we could find some adults there was no trace of them. We encountered around those places, on the contrary, only some longissima and the interesting, seldom found, coronella, which for sure like cooler temperatures.

A wonderful finding?
No black Malpolon, which I probably saw in the past, but the big situla male I found in Losinj was for me really breathtaking. I saw it from above at a great distance, and at first I thought it could be a striped longissima, so big and glazing it was... I didn't realize it was a large situla until I was near it!

What else? No tessellata, sure, but if I cannot reach their habitat, I can only state their absence in other parts of the island... :lol:

And...we met a german tourist who is certain to have seen and photographed a longissima in the utmost southern part of Cres while camping... we will receive the pictures of this snake in a few weeks!


One of the 3 specimens of land turtle we saw this year:

dove.jpg

qua.jpg

qui.jpg
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Sat May 20, 2017 7:12 pm

Great post again, Ruggero. You are the king of in situ.

However, I believe there's some US evidence that finding a lot of roadkill is an indication of healthy snake populations, rather than the number one threat. It sure is not on top of my list.
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sat May 20, 2017 9:35 pm

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:Great post again, Ruggero. You are the king of in situ.

However, I believe there's some US evidence that finding a lot of roadkill is an indication of healthy snake populations, rather than the number one threat. It sure is not on top of my list.


Thanks Jeroen!

Roadkills is an interesting argument.
Finding a lot of roadkills surely means that there are many snakes...in the same way as finding many "Terrarianer" (= reptile poachers) means that there are many snakes/reptiles to be stolen from their natural environment.
But neither road traffic nor reptile poachers make a well service to the existing snake populations or are "planned" by the natural order of the environment such as the case of i.e. Circaetus gallicus populations!
You can take a blood sample from a patient and prove he/she is in good health: but if you take a blood sample from the same patient every day, surely he/she will become ill soon, especially if he's not a very big and robust man...
If I write every year we find in Cres a little fewer reptiles than the preceding one, I mean we see fewer living reptiles AND fewer roadkills at the same time.
The two things go together.

I have witnessed what happened near my home in the course of let's say more than 40 years.
When I was a child (first years 1970) finding a dead/killed snake was not rare
few meters away from where I live.
In the 1980 years finding a dead snake was rather common a few chilometers from were I live and finding a living snake was very easy.
In the 1990-2000 it became always rarer to find both living snakes and roadkills: you had to drive for many chilometers before to find the right places.
Now it's very rare and/or almost impossible to find both living and dead specimens around where I live.

The trend in Cres is the same. Many roads with much traffic every year in a relatively small island are deadly for snake populations.

Another type of impact and another "meaning" would have, on the contrary, the main road in Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo: a small and short road inside a huge rainforest from a Resort to the Airport. With very few traffic.
That road could be compared to a "blood sample on a healthy patient".
In one rainy night I could find 2 roadkills of Bungarus of two different species.
With practically not existing nocturnal car traffic, those 2 roadkills indicated surely very healthy and abundant snake populations around that road... despite the useless loss of two wonderful specimens of Bungarus ;)

I hope I've explained well the concepts with my bad english... :D :oops:
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Sun May 21, 2017 11:34 am

The trend on the neighbouring island of Krk seems to me to be the same.
Your reasoning seems sound to me.

And your English isn't bad at all.
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sun May 21, 2017 12:30 pm

Yes, roadkills are interesting discussion and I can see the logic in both Jeroen's and Ruggero's statements. My first thought was - yes, I agree that road traffic is not one of the top reasons why reptiles and amphibians are declining, and in general it really is not. My view on roadkills is that one can accept it in a sense as "natural" predation because the majority of roadkills (excluding some idiots that would run over any animal on purpose) are accidents - e.g. a snake being at the wrong place (exposed) at the wrong time by chance gets in the way of a "predator" that kills it. I'm not saying it's the same but one could compare the frequency of roadkill to the freguency at which eagles, herons and others kill snakes.

However, as everything in nature things are not linear or straightforward at all and everything depends on the particular environmet and the particular case. In a huge country like the US with miles of good habitat between roads it surely can't be such a big problem but on a small island the situation is completely different. I don't see a solution though, people will never stop building roads...

A few questions regarding this come to my mind:

- Are most of the snakes killed on roads because they were there by chance, simply crossing, or do snakes actively seek roads as a lot of them just lay there motionless (as opposed to crossing)?

- Could there be a way to integrate some sort of snake repellent in the building of roads?

- In the long term are snakes in places with high road mortality capable of learning to avoid roads?
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Mario Schweiger » Sun May 21, 2017 12:54 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:
- In the long term are snakes in places with high road mortality capable of learning to avoid roads?


my opinion: for sure not. how it would work? other snakes (or any herps) will watch another specimen being over rolled and think. " I never will go onto a road, its really dangerous.
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Re: Some pictures from the Cres-Lošinj archipelago

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sun May 21, 2017 1:05 pm

Dear Ilian, fortunately you understand very well the difference of roadkill impact on a small and tourism vocated mediterranean island, a hill territory as mine in Oltrepo' Pavese and the huge deserd of Baja California crossed maybe by only one poorly trafficked road... :lol:

Can I ask you what you think are the main causes of reptiles decline in Countries such as Italy? And mainly of snakes decline?

I could make you a list of the causes that in 40 years caused the decline and/or the total destruction of snakes around my house, where I live since 1972, but I can reassure you that at number 1 I will put roadkills.

If you want I will make a list.

You could ask me now: how can you be sure about this?

We have only two ways of proceeding, in order to understand the causes of snakes populations decline: direct observations and abstract reasoning. I use both.
By direct observation I can see that the only snakes found killed near my hometown (or in Cres) ar killed by cars. In particular rarer cases (but not THAT rare) they are killed directly and voluntarily by people.

And I can clearly see in the woods and fields the every year harder signs of wildboar presence: stones upraised and vaste zones of wood earth excavated.
I know from the books and science and literature that wild boars eat practically every organic thing that they find.
So, with reasoning, I can argue that they will eat a snake or a snake egg clutch if they will find them. And why they won't find them if they constantly make the deep sings I see with my eyes?

I think that these 2 are the main reasons of snakes populations decline in my region and on Cres. Or, better said: the two main reasons that have moved the delicate balance of snakes surviving (which functioned rather well till the sixties and seventies) towards a snakes more or less slow decline.

And, please... you cannot compare "road kills" with a sort of "natural predation"...
A natural predation has taken thousands or millions of years to reach a "steady state": road traffic is exponentially grown in few tens of years (I would exactly say from the 60-70s, when each family began to possess a car).
And a natural predation as the one by Circaetus gallicus has certainly more selectivity than roadkills, in which every snake that crosses a road or bask over it is killed without distinctions: newborn snakes, healthy adults, huge, small and medium sized specimens are killed by road traffic in matter of seconds in a same unnatural way...

And again, even if road traffic in Cres had the same selectivity of maybe 5 Circaetus gallicus couples, it will have anyway a sommatory effect with the existing natural predators (and the new less natural ones like introduced wildboars!), and not a replacement role only... :(

P.S. I have at least 3 books about Circaetus gallicus at home. They "never" predate newborn snakes! One of the main roadkill-victims on Cres are newborn totally healthy quatuorlineata and situla (pers. observations). Is this a natural way of selecting snakes?
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