Attempting to record and increase awareness of Cyprus’ biodiversity, an atlas has been created by the Open University of Cyprus and the Herpetological Society of Cyprus (HSC) aimed at recording the distribution of the over 20 amphibian and reptile species living on the island.
Cyprus has 22 recorded amphibian and reptile species of which three reptiles are endemic to the island.
The Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Lab (TemLab) of the Open University of Cyprus, together with the HSC have created a database with the spatial distribution of terrestrial reptiles and amphibians found among Cyprus Fauna.
“Reptiles and amphibians are part of the island’s ecosystem and the maps are a great reference,” said associate researcher and a data collector for the atlas, Marilena Stamatiou.
She explained that the data is meant to be a research point, but also to engage the public in helping to protect the species and inform the atlas creators of where they spotted a particular species.
Currently, the atlas has registered 5,500 points where 22 terrestrial reptiles and amphibians have appeared, and the goal is to constantly update the database so that it can become an important tool for the protection of Cypriot biodiversity.
The atlas data has been collected from a wide range of sources, including scientific and local textbooks and books, data from reptile registration programmes and existing databases.
The main objectives of the project include the collection and organisation of data on the island’s reptile fauna in a single electronic database, the strengthening of the public’s voluntary contribution to the collection of information and the use of data to enrich knowledge regarding the spatial distribution, ecology and habitats of the reptile fauna of Cyprus.
“We want to have a platform that informs people and not have them be afraid,” she said.
The public can contribute to the atlas by sending information to TemLab via email or the atlas social media about locations where they have identified reptiles and amphibians. The link is https://www.herpatlas.cy/.
The TemLab’s research focuses on the Mediterranean ecosystems with emphasis on the island’s mountains and landscaped based conservation, as well as spatial analysis from ecosystems.
The HSC was established in 1990 with the aim of promoting, studying and conserving Cyprus’ reptiles.
As part of its work, HSC fulfil presentations, educational seminars, studies and research, along with other activities that relate to informing and educating the public about reptiles in Cyprus.