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      Dead snakes and their stories: morphological anomalies, asymmetries and scars of road killed Dolichophis caspius (Serpentes, Colubridae) from Romania

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      Herpetozoa

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          We analysed several morphological characters of 84 road-killed D. caspius individuals from different areas of southern Romania. Most presented asymmetries in the total number of temporal scales, the temporal row and the periocular and labial scales. Almost a quarter of snakes had scars, located especially on the head and tail; many individuals had multiple injuries. The lowest rate of individuals with scars was found in the area with the least anthropogenic impact (Danube Gorge). This finding suggests that, in other areas in Romania, the species is threatened and lives in less optimal conditions. The number of individuals with asymmetries and scars differed according to the populated region, sex or size class. Most of the individuals were killed in August, due to the large number of road-killed juveniles.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Fluctuating asymmetry analyses: a primer

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            Updated distribution and biogeography of amphibians and reptiles of Europe

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              Are snake populations in widespread decline?

              Long-term studies have revealed population declines in fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. In birds, and particularly amphibians, these declines are a global phenomenon whose causes are often unclear. Among reptiles, snakes are top predators and therefore a decline in their numbers may have serious consequences for the functioning of many ecosystems. Our results show that, of 17 snake populations (eight species) from the UK, France, Italy, Nigeria and Australia, 11 have declined sharply over the same relatively short period of time with five remaining stable and one showing signs of a marginal increase. Although the causes of these declines are currently unknown, we suspect that they are multi-faceted (such as habitat quality deterioration, prey availability), and with a common cause, e.g. global climate change, at their root.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Herpetozoa
                Herpetozoa
                Pensoft Publishers
                2682-955X
                1013-4425
                May 14 2020
                May 14 2020
                : 33
                : 77-85
                Article
                10.3897/herpetozoa.33.e51338
                © 2020

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