The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

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pdf 02. Prey availability drives geographic dietary differences of a Mediterranean predator, the Lataste's viper (Vipera latastei)

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Open Access

pp. 16-22
Authors: Santos, Xavier; Pleguezuelos, Juan M.; Brito, José C.; Llorente, Gustavo A.; Parellada, Xavier & Fahd, Soumia

Abstract: Species that inhabit regions with highly contrasting environmental conditions often exhibit geographic variation in diet as a consequence of differences in prey availability among populations. The Lataste's viper Vipera latastei is an ambush predator that lives in regions of the Iberian Peninsula varying from extremely dry (170 mm annual rainfall) to very rainy (3000 mm). Given this high adaptability, we expect interpopulational differences in its diet. We examined the gut content of 347 preserved adult specimens from the entire Iberian range deposited in museum collections. There were geographic differences in the consumption of the two main prey types, small mammals and reptiles. Logistic regression results indicate that three climatic variables (annual rainfall, average temperature and average radiation) explain the consumption of reptiles or small mammals by adult vipers: vipers preferentially forage on small mammals in wet, cold and cloudy areas, but combine the consumption of reptiles and small mammals in dry, hot and sunny ones. As small mammal species diversity and abundance in the Iberian Peninsula increase with rainfall, our results suggest that the consumption of small mammals versus reptiles is driven by prey availability.

Keywords: FEEDING ECOLOGY, VIPERIDAE, IBERIAN PENINSULA

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