Individual Growth Rates of Nikolsky’s Viper, Vipera berus nikolskii (Squamata, Viperidae)

Open access


Capture-mark-recapture data was used to infer growth rates of the Nikolsky’s viper, Vipera berus nikolskii (Vedmederja, Grubant et Rudaeva, 1986), in the Eastern Ukraine. We have found that growth rate is negatively correlated with age. The difference in growth rates before maturation is not significant between different sexes. Growth rates decrease rapidly after maturation in males and females, however adult males retain significantly higher average growth rates. There is large dispersion of growth rates in the group of adult females, which is caused, probably, by alteration of complete arrest of growth in the years with reproduction and more intensive growth in the years without it. Asymptotic snout-ventral length estimated after Von Bertalanffy model was 680 mm in females and 630 mm in males. Females mature after fifth and males mature after fourth hibernation. The larger females in vipers can not be the result of higher growth rates in females, but are the outcome of a combination of other factors including different maturation time and size (older and being larger), and, perhaps, longer life span due to lower mortality. Growth rates of the Nikolsky’s viper in the nature are higher than in other species in the group of small Eurasian vipers.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Baron J. P. Galliard L. Tully T. Ferrière R. 2010. Cohort variation in offspring growth and survival: prenatal and postnatal factors in a late maturing viviparous snake. Journal of Animal Ecology79 (3) 640–649.

  • Baron J. P. Galliard J. F. Ferrière R. Tully T. 2013. Intermittent breeding and the dynamics of resource allocation to reproduction growth and survival. Functional Ecology27 (1) 173–183.

  • Bea A. Brana F. Baron J. P. Saint-Girons H. 1992. Régimes et cycles alimentaires des vipères européennes (Reptilia Viperidae): étude comparée. L’Année biologique31 (1) 25–44.

  • Bonnet X. Bradshaw D. Shine R. 1998. Capital versus income breeding: an ectothermic perspective. Oikos83 (2) 333–342.

  • Bonnet X. Shine R. Lourdais O Naulleau G. 2003. Measures of reproductive allometry are sensitive to sampling bias. Functional Ecology17 39–49.

  • Capula M. Luiselli L. Anibaldi C. 1992. Complementary study on the reproductive biology in female adder Vipera berus (L.) from eastern Italian Alps. Vie Milieu42 (3–4) 327–336.

  • Drobenkov S. M. 1989. The method of individual marking of common adder using morphological variability. In: Abstrs. of the 7rd Herpetol. Conf. “The Problems of Herpetology” Kiev 83–84 [In Russian]

  • Forsman A. 1992. Adaptive body and head size variation in populations of the adder Vipera berus. Acta Universitatis Upsalensis Comprehensive summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science 401 Uppsala 1–34.

  • Forsman A. 1993. Growth rate in different color morphs of the adder Vipera berus in relation to early weather variation. Oikos66 (2) 279–285.

  • Grubant V. N. Rudaeva A. V. Vedmederja V. I. 1973. On the systematic position of black morph of common adder. In: Abstrs. of the 3rd Herpetol. Conf. “The Problems of Herpetology” Leningrad 68–71 [In Russian].

  • James C. D. 1991. Growth rates and ages at maturity of sympatric scincid lizards (Ctenotus) in Central Australia. Jornal of Herpetology25 (3) 284–295.

  • Kalyabina-Hauf S. Schweiger S. Joger U. et al. 2004. Phylogeny and systematics of adders (Vipera berus complex). Mertensiella. Verbreitung Okologie und Schutz der Kreuzotter (Vipera berus [Linnaeus 1758])15 7–16.

  • Kheruvimov V. D. Sokolov A. S. Sokolova L. A. 1977. On sex and age determination in Vipera berus L. Vestnik Zoologii 6 39–44 [In Russian].

  • Korosov A. V. 2010. Ecology of common viper (Vipera berus L.) in the North (facts and models). PetrSU Edition Petrozavodsk 1–264 [In Russian].

  • Lindell L. E. 1996. Vertebral number in adders Vipera berus: direct and indirect effects on growth. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society59 (1) 69–85.

  • Lindell L. E. 1997. Annual variation in growth rate and body condition of adders Vipera berus: effects of food availability and weather. Canadian Journal of Zoology75 (2) 261–270.

  • Lindell L. E. Forsman A. Merilä J. 1993. Variation in number of ventral scales in snakes: effects on body size growth rate and survival in the adder Vipera berus. Journal of Zoology230 (1) 101–115.

  • Madsen T. 1988. Reproductive success mortality and sexual size dimorphism in the Adder Vipera berus. Holarctic Ecology11 (1) 77–80.

  • Madsen T. Stille B. 1988. The effect of size dependent mortality on colour morphs in male adders Vipera berus. Oikos52 (1) 73–78.

  • Milto K. D. Zinenko O. I. 2005. Distribution and morphological variability of Vipera berus in Eastern Europe. In: Ananjeva N. Tsinenko O. eds. Herpetologia Petropolitana. St. Peterburg 64–73.

  • Pavlov A. V. 1998. Eco-morphological characteristics of the common adder (Vipera berus L.) in connection with natural and artificial conditions. Ph.D thesis Kazan State University Kazan 1–174 [In Russian].

  • Pomialovska-Pilipiuk I. 1974. Energy balance and food requirements of adult viper Vipera berus L. Ekologia Polska22 (1) 195–211.

  • Roitberg E. S. Smirina E. M. 2006. Age body size and growth of Lacerta agilis boemica and L. strigata: a comparative study of two closely related lizard species based on skeletochronology. Herpetological journal 16 133–148.

  • Schoener T. W. Schoener A. 1978. Estimating and interpreting body-size growth in some Anolis lizards. Copeia 3390–405.

  • Tabachishina I. E. Tabachishin V. G. Zavjalov E. V. 2003. The dynamics of growth of steppe viper (Vipera renardi) and Nikolsky’s viper in the north of Lower Povolzhje. Visnyk of Dnipropetrovsk University. Biology11 (1) 218–222 [In Russian].

  • Volsoe H. 1944. Structure and seasonal variations of the male reproductive organs of Vipera berus (L.). Spolia Zoologica Copenhagen5 9–159.

  • Zinenko O. I. 2006. Reptiles of the forest-steppe zone of Left-bank Ukraine (distribution morphology taxonomy biology ecology). Ph. D thesis Kyiv 1–227 [In Ukrainian].

  • Zinenko O. I. Bondarenko Z. V. Claus C. 2005. Comparison of size and body proportions of newborns Vipera berus berus L. 1758 and Vipera berus nikolskii Vedmederja Grubant et Rudaeva 1986. Actual Problems of Herpetology and Toxinology8 48–54 [In Russian].

  • Zinenko O. Ţurcanu V. Strugariu A. 2010. Distribution and morphological variation of Vipera berus nikolskii Vedmederja Grubant et Rudaeva 1986 in Western Ukraine the Republic of Moldova and Romania. Amphibia–Reptilia31 (1) 51–67.

  • Zúñiga-Vega J. J. Méndez-de la Cruz F. R. Cuellar O. 2008. Body growth in one montane population of Sceloporus grammicus (Sauria Phrynosomatidae) in Central México. Amphibia–Reptilia29 127–134.

Journal information
Impact Factor

Cite Score 2018: 0.41

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.324
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.422

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 353 245 6
PDF Downloads 169 102 5