Distribution and population status of the adder Vipera berus Linnaeus, 1758 in Schleswig-Holstein and the northern part of Hamburg Germany Verbreitung und Bestandssituation der Kreuzotter Vipera berus Linnaeus, 1758 in Schlewig-Holstein und im noerdlichen Hamburg

Klinge, A.; Winkler, C.

Mertensiella 1 Dezember; 15: 29-35


Accession: 038153653

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This paper is concerned with the distribution of the adder Vipera berus in Schleswig-Holstein and the northern part of Hamburg (north of the River Elbe). Schleswig-Holstein is characterised by strips of different landscapes, all formed through glaciation or post-glacial processes. The hilly strip along the eastern coastline consists of young moraines. It is followed by an area of moors and old moraines in the centre. and marshes along the West Coast. The adder is mainly found in the sandy soil area in the centre. In the hilly eastern part it is rare and has a clumped patchy distribution. In the marshes adders have only been reported from four raised bogs, all of which border areas of sandy soil. In Schleswig-Holstein the adder occurs mainly in raised bogs and transition mires, but it is also found in woods and forests. sandy heathlands and dry meadows as well as ruderal areas and disturbed sites. To date, the lack of reliable data does not permit specific conclusions about the population status of V. bents in Schleswig-Holstein. However, given that many suitable habitats have been destroyed over the last hundred years a severe decline of the adder population has to be assumed. The overall frequency of V. bens in the grid-system (quadrants of topographical maps 1:25.000) totals 35 % (1875-2003) today the adder is in fact present in only 13 % (1991-2003) - an estimated decline of at least 60 %. Particularly the drainage and cultivation of bogs and mires and the afforestation of heathlands and dry meadows have resulted in a serious loss of adder habitat in the late 19th and early 20th century. The ongoing succession of the remaining habitats as well as the fragmentation and isolation of local populations are the main threats to the persistence of V. berus in Schleswig-Holstein. Consequently V. berus has been listed as "endangered" for Schleswig-Holstein. Today only a few isolated adder populations occur in the northern outskirts of Hamburg. In the new Red List for the city of Hamburg the status of V. berus will be listed as "critically endangered".