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  Supporting the Sustainable Management of Amphibian and Reptile Biodiversity

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As a part of the Irano-Anatolian biodiversity hot spot which contains centers of local endemism, Northern and western Iran are a geographical center for the evolution of numerous herpetological species.  However, this biodiversity is now threatened by insufficient sustainable management of natural resource in the region. Immediate threats include habitat destruction through increased agriculture and vegetation burning, and climate change along with increasing risks of desertification and changes in vegetation structure. Here the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation network through the Amphibina and Reptile Conservation journal presents articles of the first volume produced by our Middle East Chapter on the hepetofauna of the Iranian Plateau.

 ARCME 9 - 1 cover xxx


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Sustainable Management of the Iranian Plateau Herpetofauna. 2014. Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Ali Gholamifard, Rasoul Karamiani, Zahed Bahmani, Asghar Mobaraki, Elham Abtin, Hiwa Faizi, Nastaran Heidari, Mohsen Takesh, Farkhondeh Sayyadi, Nabi Ahsani and Robert K Browne. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. 9(1): 1-15. PDF


 Pseudocerastes urarachnoides    Iran trade turtles

Summary: The global initiative toward sustainable management includes the long term protection of biodiversity. Northern and western Iran are part of the Irano-Anatolian biodiversity hot spot that has many centers of endemism as a biogeographical center for the origin of many amphibian and reptile taxa. A high diversity of habitat types coupled with climatologically diverse environments result in the 13 different physiographic regions that support this biodiversity. The known herpetofauna of Iran comprises approximately 232 reptile and 22 amphibian species belonging to about 100 genera, 31 families, five orders and three suborders. The Squamata with 199 species in 78 genera and 18 families is the most specious reptilian order in Iran and account for approximately 85 percent of the herpetofauna. Fifty five endemic species in 11 families and 22 genera are considered here. At present, numerous factors, including habitat destruction through increased agriculture, as well as vegetation burning and climate change along with increasing risks of desertification have made a major impact on various ecosystems. Further, threats come from exotic species, the use of reptile products in traditional medicine and food, and pollution. There are ten Vulnerable, four Endangered, and seven Critically Endangered herpetofaunal elements in Iran. The establishment of protected areas, participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in herpetological conservation, and more research of taxonomy, species range and habitats, threats and their mitigation are required for the sustainable management of Iranian herpetofauna. A concerted Iranian and international program for the sustainable management of Iranian herpetofauna is required because of Iran’s biogeographic status, its high level of herpetological diversity and endemicity, and its importance as a global biodiversity hot spot.

A conservation reassessment of the Critically Endangered, Lorestan newt Neurergus kaiseri (Schmidt 1952) in Iran. 2014. Asghar Mobaraki, Mohsen Amiri, Rahim Alvandi, Masoud Ebrahim Tehrani, Hossein Zarin Kia, Ali Khoshnamvand, Ali Bali, Ehsan Forozanfar, and Robert K Browne. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. 9(1): 16-25. PDF


Neurergus kaiseri conservation team

Summary: The Lorestan newt (Neurergus kaiseri, Schmidt 1952) is an endemic salamander species to Iran, listed as “Critically Endangered” in the 2006 IUCN Red List due to population declines of 80%, over collection for the pet trade; area of occupancy less than 10 km2, fragmented populations, less than 1,000 adults, and continuing habitat degradation and loss. We conducted a series of field surveys over the previously known region inhabited by N. kaiseri, and over some other areas that appeared to provide suitable habitat for N. kaiseri. Two Iranian provinces of Khuzestan and Lorestan were surveyed with 20 aquatic sites inhabited by N. kaiseri distributed over an area of ~10,000 km2, with an estimate a minimum total population of greater than ~9,000 adult N. kaiseri. We surveyed only a small area of the potential range of N. kaiseri, and more breeding sites appear during exceptionally wet periods. We consider that N. kaiseri needs greater conservation planning and implementation, habitat and legal protection, and increasing support for the expansion of community conservation programs. Conservation initiatives for N. kaiseri will also benefit many other threatened species including the Iran cave barb (Iranocypris typhlops), spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca), Persian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica ), brown bear (Ursus arctus), Caucasian squirrel (Sciurus anomalus) and saker falcon (Falco cherrug). We recommend a conservation action plan prepared by the Department of the Environment of Iran, with contributions by Iranian and International experts on all facets of the conservation of Neurergus species especially including the expansion of community conservation programs. 

First record of Apathya cappadocica muhtari (Eiselt, 1979) (Sauria: Lacertidae) in Iran with its natural history and distribution. 2014. Zahed Bahmani, Rasoul Karamiani, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Ahmad Gharzi. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. 9(1): 26-29. PDF  



Summary: The first record of the lacertid lizard Apathya cappadocica muhtari from Iran is presented. The most distinguishing characters of A. c. muhtari is the presence of an undivided and single preanal plate and six longitudinal rows of ventral shields.

The amphibian fauna of Kurdistan Province , Western Iran. ZahedBahmani, Rasoul Karamiani, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Ahmad Gharzi, Robert Kenneth Browne. 2014. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 9(1): 31–35. High res PDF

Summary: The amphibian fauna of Kurdistan Province was surveyed over a period of three years from April 2010 to June 2013. We found six species of amphibians belong to five genera and four families including: Rana ridibunda and Rana camerani (family Ranidae), Bufo viridis (family Bufonidae), Hyla savignyi (family Hylidae), and the critically endangered Neurergus microspilotus and Salamandara infraimmaculta semenovi (family Salamandridae). N. microspilotus is distributed in Kermanshah and Kurdistan Provinces, while S. i. semenovi is confined to Kurdistan Province. These two species are threatened by anthropogenic habitat modification particularly the loss of suitable aquatic habitat and the effects of climate change.

Conservation status of the Kurdistan Newt Neurergus microspilotus in Kermanshah and Kurdistan Provinces, Iran. 2014. Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Rezgar Mirani, Zahed Bahmani, Rasoul Karamiani, Mohsen Takesh, and Robert K Browne. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. 9(1): 31-36.

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Summary: Assessments of a species range, distribution, evolutionary distinct populations, and threatening processes are necessary for sustainable management and to guide further research. During extensive field work in the western regions of the Iranian Plateau from April 2012 to Jun 2013 we found 11 new localities of Kurdistan newt Neurergus microspilotus in Kermanshah and seven in Kurdistan Province. There were few Neurergus microspilotus observed in each habitat and we discuss threatening processes.

Sexual dimorphism of the Yassujian lizard, Apathya yassujica (Nilson et al, 2003) (Sauria: Lacertidae) from Iran. 2014. Rasoul Karamiani, Sarallah Dabid, Nasrullah Rastegar-PouyaniAmphibian and Reptile Conservation. 9(1): (in press).

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Yassujian lizard Apathya yassujica

رSummary: We measured the morphometrics of 23 male and 19 female adult specimens Apathya yassujica (Nilson et al., 2003) from Kohguiluyeh Va Boyer Ahmad and Fars Provinces in southwestern regions of the Iranian Plateau. The uni-and multivariate analyses performed on the morphometric data (metric and meristic) demonstrated that males are larger than females but other morphometrics are the indistinguishable. New records of A. yassujica from different regions of Fars province, southwestern Iran were recorded.


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     Nasrullah Rastegar Pouyani

    Prof. Nasrullah Rastegar Pouyani  - President

    Prof. Rastegar Pouyani is a highly respected expert on the herpetofauna of the Iranian Plateau, the Middle East and Central Asia.


     Omar F. Al-Sheikhly

    Omar Al-Sheikhly Vice-President/ ARCME Networking

    Omar Al-Sheikhly has a proven conservation record in the Middle East as a field team leader, wildlife expert, and photographer.