Curator of Herpetology & Aquatics, St Louis Zoo and PhD Student University of Missouri - St Louis
Location: Khosrov Nature Reserve, Armenia
Species/Topic: Armenian Viper (Montivipera raddei)
Abstract: Armenian Viper (Montivipera raddei) populations have experienced a drastic decline over the past 20 years as a result of habitat alteration and over-collection for the pet-trade. Although protected by Armenian law there is still illegal collecation and the only protected habitat for the species is in Khosrov Nature Reserve. Given the fragmented distribution of M. raddei and the human impact on its habitat and population numbers, a comprehensive management plan is needed. However, with no available data on the ecology or population structure of the species it is difficult to make sound management decisions at the current time. This project will use radio telemetry to study the seasonal movements, home range sizes, and habitat usage by M. Raddei. In addition, mtDNA analyses will be conducted to assess the genetic distinctiveness of populations. The data from this study will be used to formulate management strategies for M. raddei populations and their habitat.