Conservation genetics in Italy, a hot spot of Mediterranean biodiversity

Date & Time

April 10, 2019. 13:30-


Wildlife Research Center B1 floor

Professor Ettore Randi
Adjunct Professor
University of Bologna (Italy) and University of Aalborg (Denmark)

I will present a summary of biodiversity in Italy, a country stretched across the Mediterranean sea, showing three main biogeographic regions and a variety of habitats ranging from permanent glaciers in the Alps to southern dry steppes and islands. Nature in Italy has been overexploited and destroyed for centuries in the past. However, post-WW-II rewilding trends have led to an increase in forested areas, with consequent expansion of wild ungulates populations and their natural predators. Thus, important endemic species and genetically differentiated populations have been saved, also thanks to the establishment of a tight net of protected areas, particularly in southern Italy, in regions corresponding to Pleistocene glacial refuges. Then, I will show how molecular tools and novel genomic approaches are being used in conservation genetics research and practice in populations of brown bear (we have only two small populations facing risk of inbreeding), wolf (rapidly expanding, but endangered by rampant hybridization with overabundant free-ranging dogs) and wildcat (a neglected and poorly known, but ecologically important species).