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Pellegrino I.,University of Piemonte Orientale | Negri A.,University of Piemonte Orientale | Boano G.,Natural History Museum of Carmagnola | Cucco M.,University of Piemonte Orientale | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Avian Biology

The little owl Athene noctua is a widespread species in Europe. This mainly sedentary owl experienced reduction in population sizes in some areas due to habitat loss and modification of the landscape. To assess the genetic structure of the populations of western and central Europe, we analysed 333 specimens from 15 geographical areas at 13 microsatellite loci. Statistical analyses and Bayesian clustering procedures detected two major genetically distinct clusters, the first distributed from Portugal to the Czech Republic and the second from the Balkans to Italy. The second cluster was further split into three groups, located in Italy, Sardinia and the Balkans. These groups match four previously-described mtDNA haplogroups, and probably originated from the isolation of little owl populations in Sardinia and in three glacial refugia (Iberia, south Italy and Balkans) during the ice ages. High genetic admixture was recorded in central and northern Europe, probably as a consequence of the expansion from the refugia during interglacial. The main colonization route originated from the Iberian Peninsula towards central and northern Europe. Contact zones with colonization events from Italy and the Balkans were detected respectively in northern Italy and central Europe. Genetic indices show the existence of moderate levels of genetic variability throughout Europe, although evidence of recent evolutionary bottlenecks was found in some populations. Estimation of migration rates and approximate Bayesian computations highlighted the most likely phylogeographical scenario for the current distribution of little owl populations. © 2015 Nordic Society Oikos. Source

Delmastro G.B.,Natural History Museum of Carmagnola | Boano G.,Natural History Museum of Carmagnola | Conte P.L.,Citta Metropolitana di Turin | Fenoglio S.,University of Piemonte Orientale
European Journal of Wildlife Research

In the last decades, the distribution and abundance of great cormorants have extraordinarily increased throughout Europe. Many studies reported that great cormorants may impact fish populations not only by consuming large number of individuals but also by wounding them. Most studies regarded fish farms and cultured species, but there is less information about wild fish populations. In this study, we examined the incidence of wounds caused by great cormorants on an endemic and threatened species, the Cisalpine pike (Esox cisalpinus Bianco and Delmastro 2011). The object of our research was to quantify this impact and indirectly to estimate if cormorant predation may be one of the causes of the rapid decline of this Esocidae. In the years 2009–2013, 139 pikes were collected in some gravel pits in Northwestern Italy. More than a half of the specimens (57 %) reported wounds attributable to great cormorant attacks. Most wounds were localized in the dorsal and lateral surfaces of pikes. We detected a significant difference in the occurrence of wounds between fish sizes, with 73.5 % of adults showing some kind of injury. In a context of general freshwater habitat alteration, quarry lakes represent important sites for Cisalpine pike conservation. Unfortunately, pike breeding season overlaps with the presence of large colonies of overwintering cormorants, increasing the probability of interactions in a period of extreme importance for this Esocidae. Our data evidenced that the increase of cormorants represents an important menace for Cisalpine pike conservation. Finally, we suggest some management options to minimize the problem. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

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