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Casalini R.,Museo Civico di Zoologia | Baviera C.,Messina University
Zootaxa | Year: 2012

All taxa closely related to or synonymized with Rhinusa tetra (Fabricius, 1792) are studied, including the available type material. Four species are considered taxonomically valid: Rhinusa tetra, R. comosa (Rosenschoeld, 1838), R. moroderi (Reitter, 1906), R. verbasci (Rosenschoeld, 1838). The following four new synonymies are proposed: R. tetra (= Gymnetron eoum Rosenschoeld, 1838 syn. n.; = Cleopus uncinatus Dufour, 1843 syn. n.; = Cleopus verbasci Dufour, 1843 syn. n.); R. moroderi (= Gymnetron otini Hustache, 1946 syn. n). Neotypes are designated for Cionus amictus Germar, 1821, Cleopus uncinatus and Cleopus verbasci. Lectotypes are designated for Curculio teter, Gymnetron comosum, Gymnetron crassirostre Lucas, 1849, Gymnetron eoum, Gymnetron fuscescens Rosenschoeld, 1838, Gymnetron haemorrhoum Rosenhauer, 1847, Gymnetron moroderi, Gymnetron plagiellum Gyllenhal, 1838, Gymnetron trigonale Gyllenhal, 1838 and Gymnetron verbasci, all currently included in Rhinusa. A key separating the four valid species is supported by diagnoses, biological notes, distributional data and illustrations. These new findings are important because R. tetra in the broad sense was proposed as a potential candidate for the biological control of invasive Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.) in North America. Copyright © 2012 · Magnolia Press.

Filippi E.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl | Rugiero L.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl | Capula M.,Museo Civico di Zoologia | Burke R.L.,Hofstra University | Luiselli L.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl
Chelonian Conservation and Biology | Year: 2010

Herman's tortoise, Testudo h. hermanni, is an endangered subspecies in Italy, France, and Spain. We studied a Herman's tortoise population in the Riserva Naturale Regionale Monterano in the Tolfa Mountains of central Italy. We found that, unlike most other studies of this and related species, sex ratios were 11, and half the population was made up of juveniles. Sexual maturity was reached at 12 years in males and 1213 years in females, and females were significantly larger. Tortoises greatly preferred open maquis habitat over other habitat types and thermoregulated so that body temperatures stayed consistently above ambient temperatures, especially under low ambient temperature conditions. Presence of ticks was significantly associated with an index of thermoregulatory behavior. We suggest that maintenance of open maquis habitat in this reserve is essential to high hatchling production and effective thermoregulation. © 2010 Chelonian Research Foundation.

Luiselli L.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl | Rugiero L.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl | Massimo C.,Museo Civico di Zoologia
Herpetological Journal | Year: 2011

Snakes are rather difficult subjects for demographic studies. When snakes are not abundant in the feild, herpetologists have learnt that a good method for population studies is to rely on mass captures at den sites. In several snake species females also exhibit oviposition at communal nest sites, which are utilized year after year. These oviposition sites may then serve to record individuals for snake population studies. Here, we compared population size estimates generated from a 17-year study of gravid females at a communal nesting site (CNF) with population size estimates from the same snake population across an 8-year traditional capture-mark-recapture (CMR) study. Although in our case only open population methods are appropriate for calculating yearly population sizes, we also used closed population methods in order to highlight an eventual effect of the models used. As a study species, we used the European whip snake (Hierophis viridifavus) at a site in Mediterranean central Italy. Overall, population size estimates were significantly different between the two methods, with estimates from the CNF samples always higher than those obtained with traditional CMR. This difference was particularly strong with closed population methods, but still evident with open population models when the whole study period was considered. However, there were no statistical differences between population sizes estimated with CNF and CMR when only a subset of years (2002-2009) was used. No statistical relationship between population size estimates with CMR against CNF by year was uncovered, showing that CNF samples did not capture inter-annual variations in population sizes. We conclude that it might not be sound to use population size estimates from CNF samples instead of more traditional CMR studies, although yearly population size variations may at least in part be responsible for the differences between CNF and CMR estimates.

Del Vecchio S.,Third University of Rome | Burke R.L.,Hofstra University | Rugiero L.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl | Capula M.,Museo Civico di Zoologia | Luiselli L.,Centro di Studi Ambientali Demetra Srl
Herpetologica | Year: 2011

Herbivory is the dominant feeding strategy in tortoises, and dietary shifts are common in response to changes in resource availability. We conducted the first large-scale study of the diets of wild Hermann's Tortoises (Testudo hermanni hermanni) and found that the study population in central Italy was strictly herbivorous. The tortoises ate primarily legume leaves and grasses in the spring, and switched to flowers and unripe fruit of Ruscus aculeatus as these became available in the autumn. There were no significant differences between the diets of males and females. Although tortoise diets included both rare and abundant plant species, they consumed abundant plant species in a higher proportion than those species occurred in the study area. However, some rare plants made up relatively large fractions of the diet, and one of the few nonnative plants (Conyza canadensis) at the study area was eaten frequently by tortoises in all seasons, despite its relative rarity. Ruscus aculeatus berries may be particularly valuable to tortoises that are about to enter hibernation; hence, T. hermanni habitat should be managed to maintain this important plant species. © 2011 by The Herpetologists' League, Inc.

Capula M.,Museo Civico di Zoologia | Aloise G.,University of Calabria
Acta Herpetologica | Year: 2011

In the present paper the occurrence of cannibalism, unusual predation on small reptiles [Hemidactylus turcicus (Reptilia, Gekkonidae)], and foraging on small mammal carrion [Suncus etruscus (Mammalia, Soricidae)] by P. siculus is reported. © Firenze University Press.

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