This book covers the herpetofauna of Armenia and its neighboring republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, situated in the mountainous South Caucasus between the Black and Caspian seas, and surrounded by Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey. The geographic position of these republics, the complicated regional geological structure, and zonation contribute to many types of ecosystems and biodiversity richness. Located at the crossroads between Asia and Europe, the Caucasus has been identified by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature as a "Global 200 Ecoregion" and by Conservation International as one of the world's 25 most biologically rich global "hotspots." The herpetofauna of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh includes 59 species, more than half of which are threatened, and of which 11 are endemic to the Armenian Plateau and Lesser Caucasus.
The book covers 17 families: 4 of amphibians, including both salamanders and frogs: Salamandridae (1 genus: 1 species), Pelobatidae (1:1), Bufonidae (1:1), Hylidae (1:2), Ranidae (2:2); 12 families of reptiles, including 3 families of turtles: Emydidae (1:1), Bataguridae (1:1), Testudinidae (1:1); 5 families of lizards: Gekkonidae (1:1), Agamidae (3:3), Anguidae (2:2), Lacertidae (5:17), Scincidae (3:4); and 4 families of snakes: Typhlopidae (1:1), Boidae (1:1), Colubridae (12:16), and Viperidae (3:4). Among the lizards, the lacertid genus Darevskia is of particular interest because it was among these lizards and in Armenia that Ilya Darevsky, to whose memory this volume is dedicated, first discovered parthenogenesis in reptiles.
There is an historical review of herpetological studies in the region (beginning with expeditions by czarist Russia in 1835) and an extensive key to species (with 72 interpretive photographs). Each species account includes: synonymy, type locality, taxonomic notes, distribution, habitat, size, karyotype, conservation status, and major references. There is an extensive bibliography and a comprehensive index. The color plates contain 151 photographs of animals and their habitats plus 60 colored maps with individual localities plotted.
The team of authors consists of two Armenians (Marine Arakelyan and Felix Danielyan) and two Italians (Claudia Corti and Roberto Sindaco) who have conducted all of the field investigations, much of it spanning nearly two decades, and an American (Alan Leviton) who specializes on Asian herpetology.