Rome, Italy
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Following the politician debate on the devolution of a large set of environmental competences and powers to the local administrations, in this paper, we focus on the strengths of local site-based tactics versus high-level strategies in biodiversity conservation. First, independently from large-scale general strategies of biological conservation, some institutes that manage local resources (e.g., "Common lands") often maintain a number of environmental values otherwise disappeared. Secondly, the conservation strategies through nature reserves should emphasize the local role of the different components of the biological diversity with Northern and Southern Italy showing a different pattern in this sense. Third, an analysis of the γ-diversity patterns along the Italian peninsula evidences differences among various taxa assemblages that require a local approach. Biodiversity may perhaps be better protected adapting regional and large-scale strategies to local sites where human populations lives and where natural and human-induced processes act on fine-grained biodiversity. When a National Agency develops a strategy at higher level, 'blinded' top-down conservation actions and policies may appear weak. Ecologists and politicians should collaborate for a positive evolution and devolution in environmental policies, even at local scale. © 2012 © Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

Palozzi R.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | Caramanna G.,University of Nottingham | Albertano P.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | Congestri R.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | And 10 more authors.
Underwater Technology | Year: 2010

The Pozzo del Merro (Merro sinkhole), a few kilometers away from Rome, Italy, is the deepest flooded karstic cavity known in the world. Over the last two years, a multi-disciplinary scientific research project studied the almost unknown aquatic ecosystem of the sinkhole while also studying the psychological and physiological reactions of scientific divers operating in the very hostile underwater environment. This paper presents a preliminary overview of the seven studies carried out in parallel and attempts to highlight the fundamental role of scientific diving in contributing to increased knowledge about this extreme environment. The discovery of two exotic species in the sinkhole represents a paradigmatic case of the problem of invasive species introduction in such a unique environment. The project also included research on human diving physiology, pathology and psychology through monitoring of all the divers (plus one free-diver) working in the Merro sinkhole.

Ferraguti M.,Third University of Rome | Battisti C.,Environment Service | Zangari L.,Third University of Rome | Bologna M.A.,Third University of Rome
Rendiconti Lincei | Year: 2013

In this study, we obtained data on the structure of two intra-seasonal breeding bird assemblages of a Mediterranean low-altitude beech forests (about 400 m a.s.l.), an ecosystem type of high eco-biogeographic interest and little known in this sense. We sampled 22 breeding bird species (20 sedentary species and two long migrants) with the point count method. Both mean values of species richness and abundance increased from March-April to May-June periods, but differences were not significant. The Shannon diversity index showed a weak increase between early and late spring. We observed an increase of α, β and γ-diversity values from early to late spring. Diversity dominance curves showed a partial coincidence between the two intra-seasonal periods, with a significant difference in slope. Although our low-altitude beech forest showed a relatively low number of species, we observed higher values of total abundance when compared with other beech forests of Central Italy at higher altitude. As a confirmation, our null model analyses of niche overlap revealed no non-random patterns of the temporal distribution of sightings, thus widely supporting the general hypothesis that the bird assemblages of low-altitude beech forests are indeed stable intra-seasonally. The only observed differences between assemblages in the two intra-seasonal periods are limited to the occurrence of two migrant species in the late-spring assemblage (Oriolus oriolus and Upupa epops) that change the slope of the relative diversity/dominance curve (significant different to the early spring curve). Although previous research highlighted the role of altitude in influencing species richness and abundance, this is the first study to analyze the intra-seasonal structure of bird assemblages inhabiting Mediterranean beech forests at low altitude. © 2012 Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

Battisti C.,Environment Service
Journal of Land Use Science | Year: 2013

Ecological network (EN) planning bases conservation actions on a strong theoretical skeleton offered by disciplines such as population and landscape ecology, insular biogeography, community ecology and population genetics. Nevertheless, a lack of precise definitions and of a body of practical information regarding implementation has hindered many EN projects whose effectiveness for species conservation appears to be dubious. For example, current policy responses to human-induced habitat fragmentation are often based on simplified spatial assumptions ('putting a pattern on a map') that lack a sound understanding of ecosystem functionality. In this opinion article, I would like to stimulate discussion on the problematic aspects of EN discipline. The 'road map' of this article includes a close examination of (1) the EN approach (site-based or target-oriented?); (2) the multidisciplinary debate; (3) how to select target species; (4) the ENs as networks of territorial objects (what about functional connectivity or structural contiguity?); (5) the role of Natura 2000 network; and (6) the weakness of the EN approach as a persuasive tool or an alibi. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Analyses using the spatial frequency of species occurrences, as obtained by faunal atlases, allows us to obtain information on assembly rules of local bird assemblages. Here, diversity/dominance diagrams have been used to relate the structural differences in two phenology-based assemblages (i.e. sedentary species and long distance migrants) obtained by an occurrence data set throughout a local breeding bird atlas in an Apennine nature reserve of Central Italy. Among the 58 breeding bird species sampled, 28 % were long distance migrants. On the average, long distance migrants were spatially rarer when compared to sedentary species. In diversity/dominance diagrams, sedentary species show a trend similar to that obtained by the entire community (broken-stick pattern), while long distance migrants have a curve with slope tending to fit geometrically. Geometric species models show steep plots and are typical of assemblages with high relative dominance, low evenness and few species (in our case, the long distance migrants). Moving from geometric series towards a broken-stick model, the assemblages tend to be even more species rich (in our case, the sedentary species). In a Palearctic bird community, long distance migrants are generally rarer in abundance and spatial distribution when compared to sedentary species. A different phenology may imply differences in species evolution, history and ecology with consequences for abundance, distribution and rarity patterns. In our study area, patterns of spatial occurrences evidenced by diversity/dominance curves may be due to the influence of long-term history, short-term competition and local disturbances that differentiated the two phenologic sub-assemblages.

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