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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Biogeographia – The Journal of Integrative Biogeography is the scientific journal of the Italian Biogeography Society (SIB, [in Italian only]). Since 1970, it publishes original research and reviews on any topic in biogeography.


Mice on the borders: genetic determinations of rat and house mouse species in Lampedusa and Pantelleria islands (Southern Italy)

Biogeography and the occurrence of small mammals are usually hard to investigate due to the small size and secretive habits of these mammals. Available data are particularly insufficient on minor islands and at national borders, where research efforts are usually scarce. Here we briefly updated the knowledge on murid rodents on two remote Italian small islands (Lampedusa and Pantelleria) at the southernmost Italian borders. During summer 2019, house mice and rats were sampled in Lampedusa and Pantelleria and molecular markers were sequenced for species identification. The new sequences of Mus domesticus were also compared with samples from previous works collected in Lampedusa, Pantelleria, and several localities in the Mediterranean basin. Moreover, our analyses provided the first genetic evidence of the occurrence of Rattus norvegicus in Lampedusa. To conclude, R. rattus was confirmed to be present in Pantelleria. The newly collected haplotype of M. domesticus from Pantelleria is similar to those currently known for Sicily, whereas the new haplotype from Lampedusa partially diverges from the ones previously described, and clusters with haplotypes from North Africa and the Middle East.

Following the Apennines: updating the distribution of Formica clara and Formica rufibarbis in Italy (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

Formica clara is an ant species that was historically confused with other congeneric species such as F. rufibarbis until recent taxonomic developments. Due to such misunderstanding, while F. clara is known to occur across a very large Eurasian range, its actual distribution in the Mediterranean is often scarcely known. The distribution of F. clara and F. rufibarbis in Italy is remarkably obscure since almost all records, which spanned across the whole Italian peninsula and Sardinia, were published between 1834 and 1969, at times when the two species were treated as a single taxon. The few modern records of the species testify the presence of F. rufibarbis in the Alps, and F. clara in the Alps, the Po Plain and Sardinia. Here we present some new distributional data on the two species, extending the geographic range of F. rufibarbis south to the Northern Apennines (225 km) and that of F. clara throughout the Italian Peninsula south to Sicily (900 km). These results significantly change the previous understanding of F. rufibarbis as a widespread species while suggesting F. clara to be a common mountain species through the whole Apennines. Further investigations will be needed to verify whether F. rufibarbis occurs farther south.


Urban orchids: an updated checklist of the orchid flora of Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy).

In the last decades, urbanization has led to drastic changes in ecosystems. Although this phenomenon is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, cities can host a high richness of biological diversity. Several authors have recently emphasized the role of urban biodiversity in mitigating the effects of climate change and in providing benefits to citizens. In this study, I investigate the orchid flora of the city of Cagliari. Although the Mediterranean cities have a significant native flora, purely floristic works in urban ecosystems are still rare. During a thirteen-year study I encountered seventeen species, two subspecies and three hybrids. However, three taxa were no longer found. This inventory can support urban conservation policies and their implementation in the development of sustainable cities.

Seasonal bird assemblages in Dehesas (substeppic prairies with Quercus suber) of North-Western Sardinia (Italy): A poorly studied landscape of high eco-biogeographic interest

Dehesas (i.e., substeppic prairies with Quercus suber) represent a poorly studied Mediterranean habitat type of high eco-biogeographic interest. Here, we applied a point-transect method along a yearly cycle (from spring to autumn), to focus on seasonal differences in bird assemblages inhabiting a Dehesas landscape in north-western Sardinia (Italy). We confirmed the presence of Mediterranean species with restricted ranges (e.g. Sturnus unicolor, Sylvia sarda). At the community level, seasonal patterns show significant differences among mean abundance, with a maximum in autumn and a minimum in summer. The highest values in autumn may be explained by the aggregations of wintering small passerines. Considering the univariate metrics of diversity, the number of species significantly differs among seasons, with the richest community in spring. Shannon-Wiener diversity and Margalef (normalized richness) were higher in spring and summer compared to autumn. Habitat heterogeneity of these landscape mosaics, driven by historical agro-pastoral practices (fires and pastures), together with the presence of patchy 'key structures', positively affects bird species richness and abundance, improving, respectively, the number of niches and resources. More resource effort should be devoted to study these habitat types recently interested in an increased anthropogenic pressure (urban sprawl and road infrastructures, location of wind power plants, etc.).


First assessment of entomopathogenic fungi and nematodes in hot springs in central Italy and first record of Pristionchus uniformis for the country

Geothermal soils in Central Italy are characterized by high temperatures (up to 60°C), low pH values, and sparse vegetation. The biodiversity of entomopathogenic soil fungi and nematodes has never been assessed in these areas. Soil samples (N = 12) separated from each other by at least 100 meters were collected in the areas of Le Biancane Natural Park (Grosseto) and Sasso Pisano (Pisa). The Galleria bait method was used to assess the presence of entomopathogenic fungi and nematodes. A total of nine species of fungi and one nematode were isolated and molecularly identified. All these species came from samples collected in the immediate surroundings of geothermal spring, apart from one Beauveria pseudobassiana collected at about 16 meters from the nearest spring. Moreover, Pristionchus uniformis previously reported only from North America and few European countries is recorded for the first time in Italy.


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Special Section: Citizen Science in Biogeography

Parrots and parakeets in Genoa (Northwest Italy): preliminary report of a census and population dynamic analysis through citizen involvement

In the city of Genoa (NW Italy) three breeding species of Psittaciformes are known to occur: Psittacula krameri, Amazona ochrocephala and Amazona aestiva. We planned to update the knowledge of these alien species involving citizens in a project coordinated and managed by professional scientists and technicians from the Genoa University, the Natural History Museum “G. Doria”, the Municipality of Genoa and the Ligurian Environmental Protection Agency (ARPAL). The aims of the research are to highlight and quantify the impact on the urban environment of parrots and parakeets and evaluate which aspects of their presence are most perceived (negatively or positively) by citizens. The data obtained so far, on the basis of 227 observations, have allowed us to outline some aspects of the biology and habits of local Psittaciformes. We have related these characteristics to the impact that these species have on citizens, in terms of hygienic problems and levels of appreciation. The results, if confirmed by further data, will help us to develop targeted management measures but also to improve communication strategies for the future involvement of citizens in data collection.

Special Section: The new Checklist of the Italian Fauna

Towards the new Checklist of the Italian Fauna

The Scientific Committee for the Italian Fauna is managing the new checklist of the animal species of Italy. The previous checklist was published in 1993-1995 and included both protozoans and Metazoa (more than 57,000 species); the new project, which includes only Metazoa, started in 2020 and is aimed at updating the former checklist (with more than 60,000 expected species) by on-line datasets and data papers. The new checklist includes marine species recorded in the Italian seas, divided into nine marine sectors, within the Italian Economic Exclusive Zone, and terrestrial and freshwater species recorded in administrative regions, as well as in the three macro-regions (northern continental, southern peninsular and insular - Sicily and Sardinia - macro-regions). Records from geopolitical units biogeographically related to Italy (i.e., Canton Ticino, CH; Corsica, F; San Marino Republic and Vatican City) are also included. Over 180 Italian and foreign taxonomists have so far participated to the first phase of this new project, providing datasets for taxa at different hierarchical level, from phyla to subfamilies and tribes. The list is intended to be a fundamental instrument not only for the faunistic knowledge of Italy, but also for biodiversity conservation strategies in the country and in the European Union. The new Checklist of the Italian fauna will be available from the LifeWatch Italy platform, and it will be progressively updated. Furthermore, data papers for taxa at different hierarchical level could be published with continuity in a special section of the journal Biogeographia – The Journal of Integrative Biogeography.

The new Checklist of the Italian Fauna: Mecoptera

We present a data set reporting the checklist of the species of the order Mecoptera for Italy, updating the one previously published in the series ‘Checklist delle Specie della Fauna d'Italia’ in 1995. The updated checklist comprises 11 taxa at the species and subspecies level, currently known from national Italian territories (7 Panorpidae, 2 Bittacidae, 2 Boreidae). The records are at the regional level and refer to various terrestrial habitats. The previous checklist reported 10 taxa (6 Panorpidae, 2 Bittacidae, 2 Boreidae): no taxa were removed because currently considered not valid and one was added, after scanning 16 papers published between 1993 and 2020 and expanding the regional records. The data set is freely available from LifeWatch Italy at The data set will be dynamically updated with new records; this paper describes the state of the art of the data set on December 2021.

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The new Checklist of the Italian Fauna: Ascidiacea

We present a data set reporting the checklist of the species belonging to the class Ascidiacea for the 9 Italian marine biogeographical units, updating the one previously published by Mastrototaro & Tursi in 2010. In detail, the updated checklist includes 138 taxa at species level (66 Aplousobranchia, 30 Phlebobranchia and 42 Stolidobranchia). Records refer to various marine habitats, including lagoons, harbours and semi-enclosed environments as well as deep habitats. The previous checklist reported 129 taxa (66 Aplousobranchia, 27 Phlebobranchia and 36 Stolidobranchia): in detail, 12 species were added, of which four newly described species, seven non-indigenous species and a new record for the Italian waters. On the other hand, three species reported in the previous checklist were removed: two because currently considered dubious, and one because its occurrence in the Mediterranean Sea is not actually confirmed. Finally, two species were renamed because they are considered synonyms of older ones and five species are currently accepted with new combinations. In addition, five species expanded their biogeographic distribution. The checklist data set will be dynamically updated with new records, and it will be freely available from Lifewatch Italy at This note describes the state of the art of the Ascidian checklist data set until February 2022.


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The new Checklist of the Italian Fauna: Rotifera

We present a data set reporting the checklist of the species of the phylum Rotifera for Italy, updating the one previously published in the series ‘Checklist delle Specie della Fauna d'Italia’ in 1995. The records of the updated checklist refer to the 483 taxa at the species and subspecies level currently known from national Italian territories (119 Bdelloidea, 362 Monogononta, 2 Seisonacea) at the regional level (22 terrestrial and nine marine geographical units). The records refer to various freshwater, limno-terrestrial, and marine coastal habitats. The previous checklist reported 245 taxa (54 Bdelloidea, 189 Monogononta, 2 Seisonacea): three taxa were removed because currently considered not valid and 241 were added, scanning 21 papers we found that were published between 1993 and 2020, expanding the regional records and including four papers older than 1993 with overlooked records in the previous checklist. The Rotifera data are part of the updated Checklist of the Italian Fauna, which is viewable on the LifeWatch Italy platform at and is freely available on the LifeWatch Italy Data Portal ( The checklist will be dynamically updated with new records; this paper describes the state of the art of the data set regarding Rotifera on May 2021.


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The new Checklist of the Italian Fauna: marine Mollusca

The mollusc fauna of the Mediterranean Sea is still considered as the best-known marine mollusc fauna in the world. The previous modern checklists of marine Mollusca were produced by joint teams of amateurs and professionals. During the last years the Italian Society of Malacology (Società Italiana di Malacologia – S.I.M.) maintained an updated version of the Mediterranean checklist, that served as the backbone for the development of the new Italian checklist. According to the current version (updated on April 1st, 2021), 1,777 recognised species of marine molluscs are present in the Italian Economic Exclusive Zone, including also the Tyrrhenian coasts of Corsica and the continental shelf of the Maltese archipelago. The new checklist shows an increase of 17% of the species reported in the 1995 Checklist. This is largely (yet not solely) due to the new wave of studies based on Integrative Taxonomy approaches. A total of 135 species (7.6%) are strictly endemic to the Italian waters; 44 species (2.5%) are alien and correspond to the 28% of the Mediterranean alien marine molluscs. All eight extant molluscan classes are represented. The families represented in the Italian fauna are 307, an increase of 14.6% from the first checklist, partly due to new records and partly to new phylogenetic systematics. Compared with the whole Mediterranean mal-acofauna, the Italian component represents 71% in species and 61% in families, which makes it a very remarkable part of the Mediterranean fauna. 

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The new Checklist of the Italian Fauna: Formicidae

I present the updated version of the ‘Checklist of the Italian Fauna’ for what concerns ants (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae), which is part of the broader effort to produce an updated comprehensive checklist of the Italian fauna about 25 years after the first edition. The present list is the fourth Italian checklist of ants to be published since 1916, and refers to the state of art on November 2020. A simplified version of the data set is available as a supplementary file to this paper, while the full data set will be accessible in a regularly updated form from the LifeWatch Italy Data Portal ( Compared to the previous list by Poldi and others, published in 1995, the new one contains changes retrieved from 86 literature sources, including 17 published between 1921 and 1995 (which were missed in the previous checklist) and 69 published from 1996 to 2020. These references add 50 new species, including 9 new endemic species, as well as 68 nomenclatural changes and 88 distribution novelties at the regional level to the previous checklist. A total of 267 species and subspecies belonging to 7 ant subfamilies and 42 genera are part of the new list. The knowledge of the Italian ant fauna is rapidly improving on several fronts, and such dynamism is well-testified by the several novelties from 10 articles published after this dataset was compiled, to be included in the first future update of the on-line checklist. A further new list with extensive comments, detailed species distribution and biogeographic consideration will be desirable as soon as the situation stabilizes.

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