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The prey spectrum of terrestrial snakes in the Tolfa Mountains (Latium, Central Italy).
A synthesis from earlier analyses

Wien, 30. Dezember 1996, HERPETOZOA 9 (3/4): 111-119


Data on prey composition of six species of terrestrial snakes (Vipera aspis francisciredi, Hierophis viridiflavus viridiflavus, Elaphe longissima longissima, Elaphe qualuorlineata qualuorlineata, Coronella austrìaca austrìaca, Coronella girondica) from a hilly area of Central Italy (Tolfa Mountains, elevations between 150 m and 450 m a.s.l., approximately 60 km north of Rome) is analyzed by means of mullivariate statistics. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) revealed that most of the dietary differences between snake species are explained by the different frequency of prédation upon the Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) and the Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), that are the most abundant lizard and rodent species, respectively, in the study area. A dendrogram based on dietary similarities confirmed the conclusions of PCA: It clustered V. aspis juveniles, C. austriaca and C. girondica at one hand, the two Elaphe species at the other, and placed V. aspis adults in some distance. It seems that phylogenetically closely related taxa (i.e., the two Coronella and the two Elaphe species) could be strong food competitors because of similarities in diet, body size, and habits. Thus, their parapatric ecological distribution in the Tolfa Mountains could be essential to minimize competition.

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Un ringraziamento al Dr. Gerhard Aubrecht del Leiter Biologienzentrum und Sammlung Wirbeltiere, Biologienzentrum/Oberoesterreichische Landesmuseen, per averci indicato questo articolo.

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