The herpetofauna of Alonissos (Northern Sporades, .The herpetofauna of Alonissos (Northern Sporades,

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  • The herpetofauna of Alonissos (Northern Sporades, Greece)

    (Amphibia, Reptilia)

    Die Herpetofauna von Alonissos (Nrdliche Sporaden, Griechenland)(Amphibia, Reptilia)



    Die Nordsporadeninsel Alonissos wird kurz naturkundlich beschrieben. Es werden die bisherige herpeto-logische Literatur dargelegt und die Neufunde aufgefhrt. Es sind dies Pelophylax ridibundus, Testudo margina-ta, Telescopus fallax und Zamenis situla. Auf der Insel wurde eine melanotische Schlange festgestellt, die ver-mutlich Hierophis caspius darstellt. Damit sind bisher 13 Amphibien- und Reptilienarten auf der Insel Alonnisosnachgewiesen.


    The natural history of the island of Alonissos in the Northern Sporades is briefly described. The existingherpetological literature is presented and the new finds listed, namely Pelophylax ridibundus, Testudo marginata,Telescopus fallax and Zamenis situla. A melanistic snake, presumably Hierophis caspius, was also found. A totalof 13 species of amphibians and reptiles has been reported for Alonissos.


    Amphibia, Reptilia, Pelophylax ridibundus, Testudo marginata, Telescopus fallax, Zamenis situla,Hierophis caspius melanistic form, new island records, Island of Alonissos, Northern Sporades, Greece


    HERPETOZOA 23 (1/2): 71 - 78 71Wien, 30. Juli 2010

    The name Northern Sporades is main-ly associated with the tourist islands of Ski-athos and Skopelos and not so much withAlonissos the third biggest of the Sporadesislands. Covering an area of approximately64 km2, Alonissos lies only about three kilo-metres north-east of Skopelos and is a longand narrow partly forested island. The bed-rock is mainly limestone and the highestpoint of the central chain of hills is 493meters above sea level (Kouvouli). The for-est dominating the southern part of the is-land is mainly Aleppo pine (Pinus halepen-sis), and olive groves are also widespread.The pine forests are a substitute for the orig-inal oak trees, which were felled to buildships at Roman times. The often dense maquis in the center of the island is com-prised of Quercus coccifera, Qu. ilex andArbutus unedo. The northern part of the is-land is phrygana grazing land. Near AghiosDimitrios there is a small lagoon (Fig. 1),which dries out in late spring and is an

    important stopover habitat for migratorybirds (CATSADORAKIS & PARAGAMIAN 2007).

    Given the absence of sandy beachesand the islands remote location, Alonissoshas remained largely unaffected by masstourism. It is the only inhabited island lo-cated in the freely accessible Zone B of aNational Marine Park established in 1992(SPANGENBERG 2005). Alonissos is also partof a Natura 2000 site (GR 1430004). As athinly populated island with some 1800 in-habitants living mostly in the south, Alonis-sos has become an attractive destination toindividual nature tourists. The island has 14well marked paths, with two hiking guidesdescribing the trails (BROWNE 2008; HEIT-MANN 2006). A nature guide to the NorthernSporades was published by the nature pro-tection organization Euronatur (HUTTER &HAU 2001). Concerning details of its natu-ral history, however, there are only few pub-lications about the island of Alonissos. Anumber of papers deal with the flora of the

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  • 72 M. F. BROGGI

    Fig. 1: The only wetland on the island of Alonissos, the lagoon of Aghios Dimitrios.Abb. 1: Das einzige Feuchtgebiet auf der Insel Alonissos, die Lagune von Aghios Dimitrios.

    Fig. 2: A large water reservoir is being constructed in the valley of the Kastanorema stream in the north-west of the island of Alonissos.

    Abb. 2: Im Nordwesten der Insel Alonissos im Tal des Kastanoremabaches wird ein groes Wasser-Retentionsbecken gebaut.

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  • The herpetofauna of Alonissos 73

    Fig. 3: Dolichophis caspius was the most frequently encountered snake on the island of Alonissos.Abb. 3: Dolichophis caspius war die am hufigsten beobachtete Schlange der Insel Alonissos.

    smaller off-shore islands of Gioura, Skant-zoura, Psathura, Kyra Panagia and Piperi.There is also a publication on orchids of theNorthern Sporades, which touches on someaspects of natural history (LOWE 1999).Local natural history also played a role inthe feasibility study produced for thenational park (MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRON-MENT 2002) and in LEGAKIS (2004) surveyof the terrestrial biodiversity of the marinepark

    The literature

    No herpetological study dedicated ex-clusively to Alonissos is available. Detailsof record localities on Alonissos were pro-vided by CYRN (1935, 1941), BUCHHOLZ &SCHULTZE-WESTRUM (1964), GRUBER &SCHULTZE-WESTRUM (1971), GRILLITSCH &TIEDEMANN (1984), CRUCITTI & TRINGALI(1987) and CATTANEO (1998). Neither WER-NER (1930, 1938a, 1938b) nor WETTSTEIN(1953, 1957) had visited the island or addedsubstancial new information to the knowl-

    edge of its herpetofauna in their standardworks on amphibians and reptiles of Greece.

    For Alonissos, CATTANEO (1998) listedseven taxa, namely (in his notation) Cyrto-podion kotschyi fuchsi BEUTLER & GRUBER,1977, Hemidactylus t. turcicus (LINNAEUS,1758), Lacerta t. trilineata BEDRIAGA, 1886,Podarcis erhardii ruthveni WERNER, 1930,Ablepharus k. kitaibelii (BIBRON & BORY,1833), Coluber caspius GMELIN, 1789 andVipera ammodytes meridionalis BOULENGER,1903. The addenda to CHONDROPOULOS(1989) also included Malpolon monspessu-lanus insignitus (GOFFROY, 1827) reportedfor Alonissos by CRUCITTI & TRINGALI(1987). A query addressed to Augusto CAT-TANEO (17 July 2009) met with a referenceto his work on Skyros, Skopelos and Alo-nissos (CATTANEO 1998), in which he sug-gested that CRUCITTI & TRINGALI (1987) hadconfused M. monspessulanus insignituswith the Large Whip Snake Dolichophiscaspius (GMELIN, 1789). The presence ofMalpolon on nearby Skiathos (BUCHHOLTZ& SCHULTZE-WESTRUM 1964), Skopelos

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  • (WERNER 1938a), Skandzoura and GiouraLEGAKIS (2004), however, should make onehesitate to adopt CATTANEOs view uncriti-cally. GRILLITSCH & TIEDEMANN (1984)mentioned that the presence of Rana ridi-bunda PALLAS, 1771 and Testudo marginataSCHOEPFF, 1886 on Alonissos was plausiblyreported to them by the local people.

    For the neighboring island of Sko-pelos, CATTANEO (1999, Tab. 4) mentionedeleven taxa, namely (in his notation) Bufoviridis LAURENTI, 1768, Rana ridibunda PAL-LAS, 1771, Mauremys caspica rivulata (VA-LENCIENNES, 1833), Elaphe quatuorlineata(LACPDE, 1789), Malpolon monspessula-nus fuscus (FLEISCHMANN, 1831) and Elaphesitula (LINNAEUS, 1758), plus all the speciesfound on Alonissos, except Dolichophis cas-pius and V. ammodytes. According to BUCH-HOLZ & SCHULTZE-WESTRUM (1964), howev-er, V. ammodytes is to be found on Skopelos,and Hyla arborea (LINNAEUS, 1758) wasobserved by Antonia CABELA (Vienna) in1984 (H. GRILLITSCH, Vienna, in litt.).

    The authors observations and other investigations

    Our visit to Alonissos took place on 13- 25 April 2009. The weather was cool andwet at times, which was a disadvantage forherpetological field work. In spite of theheavy rainfalls reported by locals for the2008/09 winter, no flowing or standingwater was found on the island apart from theabove-mentioned lagoon. Most of thesprings were encased. In the northeast ofAlonissos, to cope with the low summerrainfall, a dam was being constructed acrossthe bed of the Kastanorema stream (Fig. 2),creating a freshwater reservoir. This hugestructure built with EU funding is very mucha foreign body in this Arcadian landscape.

    With the exception of the Nose-horned Viper V. ammodytes, all the previ-ously reported species were found in thecourse of our visit to the island. Hemidacty-lus turcicus was seen on the very first dayon our walk up to the Aristotle Studios in thebay of Roussoum Gialos near Patitiri, andseveral more finds were made under variouswell covers. Kotschys Gecko Cyrtopodionkotschyi, on the other hand, was seen onlyonce, on April 23, in a stone wall of an ab-

    andoned olive grove located to the north ofTourkovighia Hill (path no. 8). It is worthnoting that, in the Aegean Archipelago,Kotschys Gecko can be rare on the mainisland and yet is frequently seen on thesmaller offshore neighboring islets (forLipsi, see BROGGI 2008). Erhards Wall Liz-ard P. erhardii was to be found everywhereon the island, but only very sporadic sight-ings of the Balkan Green Lizard L. trilinea-ta, were made. The Snake-eyed Skink A.kitaibelii, was a common sight, especially inthe pine forests. Because of the cool weath-er, few snakes were seen apart from theLarge Whip Snake D. caspius, which wascommon. According to Jannis VLAIKOS, anexpert on the islands natural history, hedge-hogs were released on Alonissos by a hte-lier in 1967 in an attempt to reduce thesnake populations and has since spreadacross the whole island. Several specimensof the Eastern Hedgehog (Erinaceus concol-or) were found run over on the islandsroads, and a living hedgehog was sighted bythe lagoon near Aghios Dimitrios.

    Dolichophis caspius (Fig.