Fieldwork campaigns and citizen science data increase the distributional range of the elusive <em>Vipera monticola</em> in Morocco
Keywords:Atlas; habitat degradation; Maghreb; Mediterranean relict; range extensions; Rif; Viperidae
Morocco comprises most of the geographic range extent of Vipera monticola and the three subspecies described within this taxon. However, the distribution of this species is likely underestimated due to its low detectability. In this note, we use data collected through recent fieldwork campaigns and citizen science to update the distribution of V. monticola in Morocco, considering the distribution of the three described subspecies. We provide records for 45 vipers corresponding to 15 UTM 10x10 km cells (six new UTM 10x10 km cells), increasing by 8.8% the range of V. monticola in the country. Remarkable range increases occur for the subspecies V. monticola atlantica and V. monticola monticola, the latter confirmed by genetic assessment, as well as for V. monticola saintgironsi with a new record in Jbel Bou Naceur. We note the occurrence of habitat degradation across the species range, likely promoted by anthropogenic factors as deforestation, aridification and overgrazing. We also indicate Jbel Oukaimeden as a potential area to develop population-monitoring studies.
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