Vodozemci i gmizavci Đerdapa
Amphibians and Reptiles of Djerdap
Book (Published version)
© Nacionalni park Đerdap
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Amphibians and reptiles are two large groups of vertebrate animals. Amphibians were the first vertebrates that colonized land. In comparison to fishes, they possess a number of evolutionary advanced traits. These traits enable them to survive in terrestrial environments. Amphibians, however, need various fresh water habitats, at least for their embryonic development and early life history stages. Reptiles were the first group of terrestrial vertebrates to develop adaptations for conducting a complete life cycle on land/in arid environments. Their eggs have solid membrane which protects the embryo from desiccation. Additionally, reptile skin is covered by thickened cell layers in the form of scales and plates which prevent water evaporation from the body. Amphibians and reptiles have been treated by men as secretive and dangerous creatures for a long time, due to their intriguing habitus and life history. On the other hand, the development and popularisation of biological disciplines related to research of amphibians and reptiles (e.g. batrachology and herpetology) have progressed in relatively slowly. As a result, even nowadays in Europe we may face various superstitious beliefs/sayings and mythological tales about amphibians and reptiles which provoke negative or ignorant attitudes toward them. This monograph was written with a desire to provide the reader with useful information about amphibians and reptiles, and to underline their importance in maintaining local biological communities and ecosystems. Moreover, our intention is to warn the readers of potential factors that threaten the survival of amphibians and reptiles, specifically those the species in Đerdap National Park could face. General information about Đerdap National park is presented at the beginning of this monograph, to remind readers about and to emphasise the importance this area has for biodiversity conservation in both the Republic of Serbia and in Carpathian region of Europe. All these facts could contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the importance of representatives of amphibian and reptile fauna for the conservation of overall species diversity in this region. The first part of this monograph is an overview of both amphibian and reptile species whose presence in the National park has been confirmed, and of those that, being common in the broader area of Đerdap, are still not recorded within the borders of the protected area. Species and their higher taxonomic categories were presented using their Serbian names language (and in English), with appropriate scientific names added after, without or in brackets. The second part is a systematisation of the records (both those collected by the authors and those extracted from literature) in a way that enables a quick view into the importance of local amphibian and reptile fauna for the evaluation of Đerdap National Park within a network of protected areas in Serbia. Additionally, there is an overview of national and international legislations that legally protect these species and also of potential threats they could face. Citation of literature units throughout the manuscript has been done in Cirillic letters for those publications written in Serbian and Russian languages. Those references published in other languages (whether by Serbian or foreign authors) have been written in Latin script. Two chapters are dedicated to the topics permanently attractive to humans but which have also often promoted an erroneous image of amphibians and reptiles. We considered them as necessary for inclusion, but with additional explanations where necessary. These topics are somehow related, since species that produce and segregate various active (colloquially „poisonous“) substances have been the subject of many superstitions from a long time. Also, many amphibian and reptiles species have received unfair roles in local beliefs and mythological rituals exactly because of their peculiar habitus and life styles and due to ignorance of local people. We truly hope that this monograph will raise more sympathy for amphibians and reptiles among inhabitants of Đerdap as well as all readers, and that it will contribute to the better understanding of their general importance. In addition, we need to point that the whole content of the monograph was completed and submitted to the management of Public Enterprise Djerdap NP at the end of 2012 and few additions were made in 2013. Due to numerous obstacles, the process of organisation and realisation of publishing took more than two years. In the meantime, at the end of 2015, The Red Book of Amphibians of Serbia and The Red Book of Reptiles of Serbia are published. We recommend them to all those readers interested in current official national conservation status of amphibian and reptile species listed in this monograph.