Mediterranean habitats have been deeply modified by human population and presumably will be seriously affected by climate change. The North Africa region comprises several species of vipers but only two of them are adapted to Mediterranean humid and temperate habitats: the Lataste´s viper, Vipera latastei Boscá 1878, and the Atlas Dwarf viper, Vipera monticola (Saint-Girons, 1954). Knowledge about north-African viper species is still very limited. Recent studies on species biogeographical patterns and conservation have enlightened the high vulnerability to human induced habitat loss, including direct habitat transformations and climate mediated changes. Regarding species genetic relationships, a recent phylogeographic study found disjunctive relationships within High Atlas populations of V. monticola, highlighting the necessity of further studies with more samples for the designation of coherent systematic and conservation units. This study proposes to achieve four main objectives in order to increase the current knowledge about conservation of the target species: (1) updating distribution of both species, (2) inferring the genetic structure for the two species and recognize Evolutionary Significant Units, (3) developing accurate ecological niche-based models for the target species and/or ESU and projecting them for prognosticated future scenarios of climate change, and (4) evaluating and updating current conservation status of the target species.
Funding agency: Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
Budget: 3 750€
Project Code: 13057632
Principal investigator: F Martínez-Freiría