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Distribution and Conservation Status of the South-Caspian Subspecies of the Eastern Slow Worm, Anguis colchica orientalis (Squamata: Anguidae)

Artem A. Kidov, Andrey B. Petrovskiy, Andrey A. Ivanov, Spartak N. Litvinchuk


Anguis colchica orientalis is an endemic subspecies of the eastern slow worm that lives along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. This reptile usually inhabits forests in the Talysh and Alborz mountains, Lenkoran and South-Caspian lowlands from –27 to 1890 m above the sea level (a. s. l.). The majority of localities (82%) are scattered across the coastal lowlands and low mountains. In order to study the distribution and estimate ecological preferences of the species, we applied maximum entropy modeling using 108 localities from Azerbaijan and Iran. The range of the subspecies covers mainly coastal lowlands, eastern slopes of the Talysh and northern slopes of the Alborz ridges. Of the parameters included in the model, slope, barren land and precipitation of driest month were the variables with the highest percentage contributions (29, 16, and 10%, respectively). The slow worm does not avoid human-transformed biotopes and is common in some localities. The main threat to Hyrcanian populations of the slow worm is degradation of suitable habitats, primarily a total deforestation.


Reptilia; lizards; distribution model; Hyrcanian forests; MaxEnt; Talysh; Alborz

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