Farooq, H. & P. Uetz

In Issues 2021

Can we identify European snakes by color patterns? pp. 520-528 plus Supplementary material: Europe snake checklist, Figure S1 and Table S1European snake morphotypesList of photos patterns sourcesSnake species traits grid cells.

Abstract. We investigated to what extent European snakes can be identified by using their color, pattern and location. We coded these criteria for all 84 snake species of Europe, including European Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey as their eastern border. Brown and blotched snakes are most common, followed by dark (brown, black) and uniformly colored species. Some highly variable species can have a dozen or more color patterns. However, in 96% of localities (grid cells) these three criteria are sufficient to narrow down the number of possible species to no more than 10, and in most cases proper identification is possible with a few photos for comparison. Given that about two dozen European vipers (and a few other species) are venomous, accurately identifying snakes is also of medical importance. In addition to identifying snakes, we provide color and pattern data for future phylogenetic and for future phylogenetic and ecological studies.

Key words. Squamata, Serpentes, Reptilia, distribution, geography, herpetofauna.

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