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Research

OUR GOALS
Herpetofauna Albanian Society

Research

Research of amphibians and reptiles has been conducted by our researchers very early, even before they decided to establish HAS. These studies, using the necessary methods, covering the entire country and every month of the year, resulted on new information about the species of amphibians and reptiles living in Albania, their distribution, ecology, biology and behaviour.

Studies conducted by our team found out the presence of 15 specimens of amphibians in Albania, from which 5 belongs to urodelia (amphibians with a tail) and 10 to anura (amphibians without a tail).

 

Bio-acoustic studies conducted in collaboration with the University of Bonn (Germany) resulted into discovering two new species of amphibian P. shqipericus and P. epeiroticus, both sub-endemic species.
Studies our team has been conducting on reptiles over the years found out the presence of 7 specimens of turtles (2 terrapins, 2 tortoises and 3 sea turtles), 14 specimens of lizards, and 16 specimens of snakes. One of the most interesting studies conducted with reptiles was the one with vipers (V.ammodytes) . The venom collected from 25 vipers during a time lapse of 6 years was later on used to produce the Albanian anti-viperin, the first antidote for Albania.
The major scientific research interest of HAS during the last decade is the study of the populations of
loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) along the Albanian coastline.

This study which first was located only at Drini bay was later on spread out to the entire Albanian coastline and with the introduction of the presence of two other species the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) expanded the scope of its research to include these two species, too. HAS is using a wide spectrum of research methods to increase scientific knowledge on the ecology of the sea turtles, as well as the anthropogenic impact on sea turtle health. The main methods used over the years are:

  • Mark-capture-recapture
  • Genetics
  • Photo-identification
  • Satellite tracking
  • Diet
OUR PROGRAMS
Research
The alpine salamander (Salamandra atra) is an amphibian rarely found in Albania. It is distributed in the alpine zone. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) is a very distributed amphibian found on all the mountains of Albania in heights from 600 to 2000 m AMSL. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) is an amphibian living in mountain lakes of Albania. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to the mountain lakes. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
Macedonian crested newt (Triturus macedonicus) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to the mountain lakes. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Not Evaluated.
The yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegate) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to the mountain lakes. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The European toad (Bufo bufo) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to the mountain lakes. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The green toad (Bufotes viridis) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to the mountain lakes. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The European tree frog (Hyla arborea) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to the mountain lakes. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Balkan frog (Pelophylax kurtmuelleri, aka Rana balcanica) is a very distributed amphibian in Albania. It could be found from the western lowlands of Albania to lakes as high as 1300m AMSL. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Epirus water frog (Pelophylax epeiroticus) is a sub-endemic amphibian distributed only in the lowlands around Saranda region. It could be found in streams, marshes, and ponds with a very limited mobility and high in vegetation. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Vulnerable.
The Albanian water frog (Pelophylax shqipericus, aka P. lessone) is a sub-endemic amphibian distributed only in the lowlands between Lake of Shkodra in the north and Orikum in the south. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Endangered.
The agile frog (Rana dalmatina) is a very distributed amphibian in the lowlands and hilly areas of Albania. It is less common in mountain areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Greek frog (Rana graeca) is an amphibian distributed along the valleys of mountainous river and streams. It is less common in river valley along the hilly areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The European common frog (Rana temporaria) is an amphibian with a distribution in alpine areas like Lure etc. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis) is a very distributed terrapin in Albania. It is found from the lowlands to the hill areas, except for the mountain areas. It feeds mainly on fish, crabs and water insects. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Near Threatened.
The western Caspian terrapin (Mauremys rivulata) is distributed only along the lowlands from Shkoder to Sarande. It feeds mainly on fish, crabs and water insects. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is a reptile distributed from the coastline to areas as high as 1000 m AMSL (Erseke). It feeds on plants. Its distribution was decreased in hilly areas which went through deforestation or terracing during the communist period. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Near Threatened.
The marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) is a specimen of tortoise located only in areas of Saranda region. It is rarely found and feeds on vegetation. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), or loggerhead, is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. It is a marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae and the common sea turtle found in Albania. The average loggerhead we found in Albania measures around 70 cm long, although larger specimens of up to 130 cm have been discovered in our country. The loggerhead sea turtles visit both Adriatic and Ionian coastline of Albania all over the year because these areas are rich of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Nesting of loggerhead in Albania has been hypothesized for many years and was discovered by our team on 2017. This rank Albania as a sporadic nesting area for loggerhead sea turtle and the northen nesting area in east Adriatic. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Vulnerable.
The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), or the green turtle, is a large sea turtle of the family Cheloniidae. It is the only species in the genus Chelonia and less common in Albanian coastline. The average green turtle we found in Albania measures around 40 cm long, although larger specimens of up to 75 cm have been discovered in our country. This turtle during its first years is carnivore then it turns into herbivore. In our coastline the greens are found inhabiting shallow water feeding mostly on various species of sea grasses. It has a very important ecological role on the underwater meadows, the turtles bite off the tips of the blades of sea grass, which keeps the grass healthy. Feeding seems to be the only reason they are found along the Albanian coastline. C. mydas is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries. It is illegal to collect, harm or kill them.
The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth-heaviest modern reptile behind three crocodilians. It is the only living species in the genus Dermochelys and family Dermochelyidae. It can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. Only 3 individuals were found in Albanian coastline over 60 years, two of them just recently in 2016 and 2017. Leatherbacks feed mostly on jellyfish, and this might be the reason of the presence of such oceanic turtle in a relatively shallow sea like Adriatic. Leatherbacks are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in the genus Eretmochelys. This turtle was reported only once for Albania by Gasc et al. (1997). Hawksbills are considered critically endangered sea turtle specie by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The slow worm (Anguis fragilis aka A. graeca) is a lizard distributed mainly in lowlands and hilly areas. It is mainly found underground or in places with high humidity. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The European glass lizard (Pseudopus apodus) is a lizard distributed in lowlands and hilly areas from Shkoder to Sarande. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Mediterranean house gecko (Hemydactilus turcicus) is a lizard distributed in lowlands and hilly areas from Shkoder to Sarande. It can be found in walls of old houses. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern..
The Kotchy’s gecko (Mediodactylus kotchyi) is a lizard distributed in lowlands and hilly areas from Shkoder to Sarande. It can be found in walls of old houses, trees and rocks. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The blue throated keeled lizard (Algyroides nigropunctatus) is a lizard commonly distributed in lowlands and hilly areas, rarely in mountain areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) is a lizard found in mountainous areas, alpine meadows in Alps, Korab etc. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata) is a very distributed lizard, found in the entire country and all areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Eastern green lizard (Lacerta viridis) is a very distributed lizard, found in the entire country and all areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Erhard’s wall lizard (Podarcis erhardii) is a lizard found in Korce region (around the lake Prespa e Madhe). The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) is the most distributed lizard in our country. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Dalmatian wall lizard (Podarcis melisellensis) is a lizard with a low abundance in Albania. It inhabits the hilly and mountainous areas of north Albania. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Balkan wall lizard (Podarcis tauricus) is a lizard distributed in lowlands and hilly areas of Albania. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara) is the lizards with the lowest distribution in the entire country. Only one individual has been reported so far. It was found in Panair (Korab) about 2200m AMSL. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Snake-eyed lizard (Ablepharus kitaibelii) is a lizard distributed along the entire lowlands and hilly areas of Albania. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Eurasian blind snake (Xerotyphlops vermicularis) is a snake distributed from hilly area of Tirana to Sarande. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The javelin sand boa (Eryx jaculus) is a non-venomous snake found only in the areas around Saranda. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) is a non-venomous snake found in mountainous areas higher than 1000m. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The large whip snake (Dolichophis caspius) is a non-venomous snake distributed mainly in lowlands and hilly areas. Its presence in mountainous areas of Albanian is less common. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata) is a non-venomous snake distributed mainly in lowlands and hilly areas. Its presence in mountainous areas of Albania is less common. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Near Threatened.
The Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gemonensis) is a non-venomous snake distributed mainly in lowlands and hilly areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Eastern Montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus) is a semi-venomous snake distributed from the coastline to hilly areas. It has a very primitive venom injection teeth found at the back of its mouth. The venom is injected when the prey is swallowed. It is distributed along the lowlands of Albania. It could be found along the valleys of the upstream of the rivers. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is a very distributed non-venomous snake. They feed mainly in amphibians. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The dice snake (Natrix tessellate) is a non-venomous snake living mainly in lakes and streams. They feed mainly on fish. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The Dahl’s whip snake (Platyceps najadum) is a non-venomous snake with a very low abundance. It is distributed in all areas up to 1500m AMSL. It feeds on lizards and insects. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The cat snake (Telescopus fallax) is a semi-venomous snake. It has a very primitive venom injection teeth found at the back of its mouth. The venom is injected when the prey is swallowed. It is distributed along the lowlands of Albania. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) is a non-venomous snake distributed in the entire country. Its population decreased due to deforestation. It feeds on mice, and that is the reason it is mainly found near houses. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The leopard snake (Zamenis situla) is considered the most beautiful snake of Europe. It is rarely found in Albania mostly on Hilly and mountainous areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) is the most venomous snake in Albania. It has a high abundance and is distributed from coastline up to areas 1800m AMSL. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The adder (Vipera berus) is a venomous snake distributed in the meadows of alpine areas. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Least Concern.
The meadow viper (Vipera ursinii) is a venomous snake found only on alpine meadows of Korabi Mountain so far. The global conservation status for this specimen as per IUCN is Vulnerable.