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Capula M.,Museo Civico di Zoologia | Rugiero L.,Environmental Studies Center Demetra s.r.l. | Capizzi D.,Regional Park Agency ARP | Franco D.,Planland s.r.l. | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Research

In a context of climate change, ecological and physiological adaptations of organisms are of central importance for determining the outcome of niche challenges (e.g., with potential competitors) and species persistence. Typically, long-term data on free-ranging populations are needed to investigate such phenomena. Here, long-term data on a free-ranging population of western whip snakes (Hierophis viridiflavus: Colubridae) from central Italy were used in order to test the hypothesis that snake feeding frequencies should increase in relation to climate warming, thus positively affecting individual performance because of longer annual activity period, increased daily activity and larger prey base. Data from 231 ‘female snake-years’ of records (including inter-annual recaptures) were collected were collected between 1990 and 2014. The frequency of fed snakes varied remarkably across the study period with a significant increase over the years. There was a significant positive effect of the mean annual temperature on the percentage of fed animals, whereas there was a non-significant relationship between yearly rainfall and percentage of fed animals. There was a positive relationship between mean annual temperature and yearly diversity-of-prey index. No other climatic variables were significantly correlated with yearly diversity-of-prey index. This study supported the hypothesis that global warming may be favorable for thermophilic species (such as H. viridiflavus), as it enhances their foraging performances and hence their feeding frequencies. The same may not be necessarily true for other species which have colder preferenda (e.g., Zamenis longissimus). © 2015 The Ecological Society of Japan Source

Luiselli L.,Rivers State University of Science And Technology | Luiselli L.,IDECC Institute for Development
Web Ecology

In this short paper, some consideration is given to the term biodiversity. We stress the need for a strong formal rigor in using this term in order to maintain the credibility by non-ecologists and environmental agencies over the scientific community involved in biodiversity studies. After a historical introduction to the use and concept of the term biodiversity, this paper presents some theoretical aspects, concrete methodological proposal, and discussion for the further scientific and consistent use of the term biodiversity. © Author(s) 2015. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Source

Pitzalis M.,Third University of Rome | Amore V.,Third University of Rome | Montalto F.,Third University of Rome | Luiselli L.,Institute of Environmental Studies | And 3 more authors.
Tropical Zoology

A considerable part of community ecology literature questioned what are the main drivers of ecological relationships in an organismal community. We analysed this focal question by studying blister beetle (Meloidae) assemblages in Southern Africa. We explored the ecological distribution of 48 species across underlying bioclimatic (e.g. temperatures and precipitation regimes), environmental factors (biomes, vegetation structure) and the taxonomic heterogeneity of each groups inhabiting major biomes of Namibia across their main biological and ecological traits, by Canonical Correspondence in order to get an ordination plot. Monte Carlo methods were used to test for randomness of the data ordination. Ordination plot identified three main assemblages, one being constituted by strictly semiarid savannah species (camelthorn, mountain, karstweld, thornbush, mixed tree and shrub, dwarf shrub, mopane and forest savannahs), one much larger and less homogenous second assemblage, inclusive of more generalist species from Karoo and semi-desert habitats, living also in arid savannahs, and the third one including Nama Karoo species. All the three assemblages were taxonomically very heterogeneous, showing that phylogenetic relationships are probably less relevant than interspecific ecological relationships among species of the same group to determine present-day community structure in these animals. © 2016 Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Firenze Source

Petrozzi F.,L.E.S.S. | Petrozzi F.,Rivers State University of Science And Technology | Amori G.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Franco D.,Planland Studio Tecnico Daniel Franco | And 6 more authors.
Tropical Ecology

The bushmeat trade in West and Central Africa embraces a broad range of ecological, economic, and conservation issues. To date, most studies have focused on the economic and conservation aspects of the bushmeat trade, with less emphasis on the ecological implications of wildlife extraction. Here, we analysed available literature on the bushmeat trade in 5 countries in west and central Africa exploring ecological traits such as niche width breadth and trophic position of the species involved, and habitats impacted. We also examine temporal changes over a 40-year period. Our results confirm that mammals dominated the trade in all studied areas and time periods, in terms of (i) number of species, (ii) number of traded individuals, and (iii) overall biomass. Herbivores were the most common trophic animal guild traded. Forest-specialists were the most abundant in the trade, and in riverine habitats reptile biomass almost as important as mammals. Overall, the most traded species and individuals were non-threatened according to the IUCN Red List. Our temporal analyses indicated that more habitat generalist and water-linked species were traded during 1971 - 2000, but forest dependent taxa predominated during the following decade (2001 - 2010). Additionally, the number of individuals of large-bodied herbivores rose relative to small and medium-sized ones, whereas traded biomass over time increased: (a) in the consumption of super-predators; (b) of large-bodied herbivores, but (c) a significant decrease in consumed biomass of medium and small-bodied herbivores. We suggest that the observed trends may suggest an imminent reduction of large-bodied herbivores and, as a cascade effect, also of super-predators in African moist forests. © International Society for Tropical Ecology. Source

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