|Date||21 Aug 2008|
The unique population of rarest and most endangered subspecies Eremias arguta transcaucasica Darevsky, 1953 was found recently on small area located to the south of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Region of eastern Armenia. The proposed project will start a new series of research of a threatened, but much neglected and poorly known endemic lizard in the Caucasus, the racerunner E. a. transcaucasica, known so far only from a single population in Armenia. Surveying the habitat of this population an alarming situation has been detected. Unfortunately, the habitat of this population is under significant human pressure and needs urgent protection. There is uncontrolled land use carried out by the local population, the area deals as pastureland, is used for agricultural activities and, as garbage/debris disposal. The named unstudied subspecies face serious threats to their continued survival. Environmental management programmes are urgently needed for the lizard habitat.
Baseline information on distribution and abundance of this lizard so essential for making its conservation efficient is lacking. This project is aimed at getting the first-hand knowledge on ecology, distribution and abundance of the race runner and using it as a background for further conservation-oriented projects. We will assess lizard abundance, identify suitable habitats and outline the sites for urgent conservation. Census will be done as random counts along the 100 m predefined transects. The mapping will be done using of Geographical Information System (GIS). Also, we will collect morphological and ecological information related to this reptile. The project will generate a comprehensive database on the status of this lizard and then use it to prepare the draft Action Plan to promote its research and conservation. The draft Action Plan will be provided to the Ministry of Nature Protection, local authorities and communities, scientific institutions, environmental non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders.
The overall objective of the project is to create a comprehensive database and the draft Action Plan for planning, development and implementation of integrated environmental management programs in biodiversity hotspots of Armenia.
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