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Type: Article
Published: 2023-06-12
Page range: 301-335
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Amphibians and reptiles in North Sweden: distribution, habitat affinities, and abundance (Classes: Amphibia and Reptilia)

Department of Environmental Science; Kristianstad University; SE-29188; Kristianstad; Sweden
Reptilia boreal alpine biotic region faunistic province hibernation newt frog toad lizard snake

Abstract

North Sweden (‘Norrland’ in Swedish) covers 243 000 km2 and lies mainly in the boreal biome. The herpetofauna comprises five amphibian and four reptile species: Lissotriton vulgaris, Triturus cristatus, Bufo bufo, Rana temporaria, Rana arvalis, Zootoca vivipara, Anguis fragilis, Natrix natrix, and Vipera berus.

Successful conservation and management of amphibians and reptiles depend on accurate information about distribution, habitat affinities, and abundance. Such knowledge is also essential as a benchmark to assess changes in distribution and abundance that may come about as a result of climate change and human habitat alteration.

This paper aims to present accurate distribution maps, describe habitat affinities, and provide abundance estimates for the herpetofauna of North Sweden for the period 1970–2022. Distribution data are presented by traditional faunistic provinces, as well as by biotic regions and alpine life zones. Separate sections address post-glacial colonization and a herpetological perspective on anthropogenic changes in relation to species´ present status.

Bufo bufo, Rana temporaria, Rana arvalis, Zootoca vivipara, and Vipera berus are widely distributed throughout the boreal sub-regions. Rana temporaria, Zootoca vivipara, and Vipera berus also extend into the alpine region. Triturus cristatus, Anguis fragilis, and Natrix natrix occur mainly in the coastal parts of the Southern Boreal region. There are no signs of recent changes in distribution range, but Lissotriton vulgaris, Triturus cristatus, and Rana arvalis have been largely overlooked in the past and have a much wider occurrence than previously recognized. Most species are found in habitats usually not described in all-European field guides. Nearly all anurans hibernate in water. Abundance estimates suggest that some species are more common in the boreal than thought, supporting the notion that a large share of their total European population occurs there. Although local extinctions and declines are known, there are no signs of widespread population decline for any species during the study period.

 

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