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Corbaiola research station


Main research programs

Wildlife Ethology and Ecology

Studies on flora and fauna in various ecosystems. Basic research is carried also out with the aim of providing information and tools for the conservation of biodiversity and for the protection and sustainable management of natural heritage. In particular, the etho-ecological aspects of various species, population dynamics, interactions between species and in relation to the physical environment are analysed. The investigations are carried out in accordance with the Habitats Directive of the European Union 92/43EEC (D.P.R. 357/97), the Italian laws D.lgs.157/92, LR 3/1994, LR 56/2000, and with the European Union Directive 2010/63/EU (Italian law D.lgs. 26/2014) or the European Union Directive 86/609/EEC (Italian law D.lgs. 116/92). For the aforementioned purposes, the Ethoikos Foundation collaborates with research institutes and universities, both Italian and foreign, also through collaboration agreements for shared projects, scholarships, doctorates, curricular internships and post-graduate training. In 2018-2019 the foundation was part of the Steering Committee of the Master's Degree course in Environmental and Behavioral Biology, University of Florence.

Ethology and genetics of the mustelid population in southern Tuscany - Monitoring with radiotracking and camera traps. Investigations on the use of space and habitat, activity rhythms, diet, parental relationships, distribution and population density.
Study of the distribution of the marten (Martes martes) on the island of Elba and the effect of its coexistence with the domestic cat and man.
Source-sink dynamics in populations of terrestrial micromammals - Information on the diversity and species richness of micromammals in a sample area of central Italy and study of demographic parameters, distribution, spatial activity, and social organization of each population, also in relation to forest management.
Earth HoloGenome Initiative - Collection of coupled genomic and metagenomic data of animal populations living at the northern and southern extremes of the distribution of the studied species, in order to understand the hologenomic means of adaptation to climate change in zones of expansion and contraction. Project coordinated by the Universities of Exeter and Copenhagen.
EU Snapshot Project - Data collection on European mammals through the coordinated and standardised use of camera traps. Study promoted by Euromammals and Max Plank Institute of Animal Behaviour.
National monitoring of the Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) - Data collection in order to obtain indications on the conservation status of the species protected by national and international regulations (Appendix III of the Bern Convention, Annex IV of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, Italian law Annex D of Presidential Decree 357/97) and in relation to the quality of the forest habitat. Project carried out in collaboration with ATIt – Italian Theriological Association.
Spatial behaviour project of the Mus domesticus - The Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, Department of Environmental Protection, drawing on POR FESR 2014-2020 Measure 6.5.1 funds, has planned interventions for the eradication of the house mouse from the environments of the Piana, Cavalli and Reulino, in the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara - Punta Coda Cavallo, where more than half of the existing population of Mediterranean shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) breeds. Within this program, the Fondazione Ethoikos has undertaken, the study of the spatial behaviour of the species Mus domesticus, with its own funds, in order to acquire greater knowledge of the ecological and ethological aspects of the insular populations of the rodents in question. This basic information may also be useful for optimal planning of the eradication intervention. This investigation is carried out in collaboration with the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara - Punta Coda Cavallo.
Ethology and psychobiology of micromammals - Study on the personality of terrestrial micromammals, evaluating the profile of emotionality, locomotor activity, neophilia and cognitive performance in animals captured in the La Selva forest in the province of Siena. The animals are housed in a temporary structure set up within the study area, for the time necessary to carry out the tests (approximately 10 days) and subsequently released back to the capture sites.
Ornithological studies - Reproductive dynamics of swallow colonies in the La Selva forest– Radicondoli (Si), in relation to variations in climate and food resources. In the same forest, study on various species of diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey, on the distribution of their breeding territories and variations in density over time, also to obtain indirect information on predatory pressure on micromammals and small passerines.
Check list of fauna and flora in the "La Selva" forest and museum collection - Data collection on the fauna within the "La Selva" forest - Radicondoli (Si). The checklist includes 1039 species. The electronic archive (http://ethoikos.myspecies.info), is hosted on the Scratchpads platform, a data management system specifically created to publish and share biodiversity data. This tool is supported, among others, by the Natural History Museum and the Natural Environment Research Council. To date, approximately 1400 photos of animals observed within the “La Selva” Forest have been published on the site assigned to Ethoikos. The list is organised in an interactive taxonomic tree, with detailed collection data organised accordingly to the Darwin core standard for sharing data on biodiversity. The flora checklist is also continuously updated with taxonomic and field checks. To date, over 400 plant species have been recorded.

Published work
•    Should I Stay or Should I Go? Seasonal Fluctuations of Wood Mouse Populations in Fields Surrounded by Woodlands. Animals 2023. DOI: 10.3390/ani13122017
•    Anomalous coloration in European pine marten Martes martes in Elba Island, Central Italy. Ecology and Evolution. 2022 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.8980
•    Adverse weather conditions reduce food availability and increase glucocorticoid metabolite levels in barn swallow nestlings. Wildlife Biology 2021 DOI: 10.2981/wlb.00747
•    Spatial behaviour of yellow-necked wood mouse Apodemus flavicollis in two sub-Mediterranean oak coppice stands. Mammal Research. 2021 DOI: 10.1007/s13364-020-00538-3
•    Difficulty in visual sex identification: a case study on bank voles. Mammalia 2019 DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2017-0170
•    Faecal corticosterone metabolite assessment in socially housed male and female Wistar rats. Endocrine connections 2018-01 DOI: 10.1530/ec-17-0338
•    Multiple captures as indicator of social tolerance in a guild of terrestrial rodents. Mammalian Biology 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2018.07.001
•    Habitat selection of European pine marten in Central Italy: from a tree dependent to a generalist species. Mammal Research 2018 DOI: 10.1007/s13364-018-0374-0
•    Seasonal cravings: plant food preferences of syntopic small mammals. Ethology Ecology & Evolution 2018 DOI: 10.1080/03949370.2017.1310141
•    Acorn choice by small mammals in a Mediterranean deciduous oak forest. Ethology Ecology & Evolution 2017 DOI: 10.1080/03949370.2015.1089326
•    Seasonal spatial behaviour of pine marten Martes martes in a deciduous oak forest of central Italy. Mammal Research 2016 DOI: 10.1007/s13364-016-0278-9
•    Effects of forest management on density and survival in three forest rodent species. Forest Ecology and Management 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.10.014
•    Genetic relatedness affects socio-spatial organization in a solitary carnivore, the European pine marten. Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy. 2016 DOI: doi.org/10.4404/histrix-27.2.11433

•    Maternal exposure to environmental enrichment before and during gestation influences behaviour of rat offspring in a sex-specific manner. Physiology & behavior 2016-05 DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.05.010
•    Field identification of Apodemus flavicollis and Apodemus sylvaticus: a quantitative comparison of different biometric measurements. Mammalia 2016 DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2014-0051
•    Morphological measurements of pine marten in central Italy. Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy 2014 DOI: 10.4404/hystrix-25.2-10258
•    Evaluation of three indirect methods for surveying European pine marten in a forested area of central Italy. Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy 2012 DOI: 10.4404/hystrix-23.2-7099
•    Characterization of nine microsatellite loci in the European polecat Mustela putorius. Conservation Genetics Resources 2012 DOI: 10.1007/s12686-012-9669-7
•    Estimation of population density of European pine marten in central Italy using camera trapping. Mammal Research 2011. DOI: 10.1007/s13364-011-0055-8
•    Characterization of 13 polymorphic microsatellite loci in the European pine marten Martes martes. Conservation Genetics Resources 2010 DOI: 10.1007/s12686-010-9282-6



Primate Ethology

Ethological studies on social and reproductive behaviour in non-human primates (in particular Macaca tonkeana, Sapajus apella), mother-infant relationship, effects of maternal style on offspring social behaviour and on their approach to the external world. Studies on competitive dynamics, communication, cognition. Investigations carried out by the Fondazione Ethoikos mainly on primates housed at the Parco Faunistico di Piano dell'Abatino (Rieti).

Published work
•    Coping with mortality: responses of monkeys and great apes to collapsed, inanimate and dead conspecific. Ethology Ecology & Evolution 2022-01-02 DOI: 10.1080/03949370.2021.1893826
•    Measuring complexity in organisms and organizations. Royal Society Open Science 2021-03 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.200895
•    Tolerant and intolerant macaques show different levels of structural complexity in their vocal communication. Proceedings. Biological sciences 2020-06 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2020.0439
•    Responses to a dead companion in a captive group of tufted capuchins (Sapajus apella). Primates 2019-08
DOI: 10.1007/s10329-019-00743-y
•    Differential patterns of vocal similarity in tolerant and intolerant macaques. Behaviour 2019 DOI: 10.1163/1568539X-00003562
•    Prolonged transport and cannibalism of mummified infant remains by a Tonkean macaque mother. Primates
2017-09 DOI: 10.1007/s10329-017-0633-8

  Female mate choice and male–male competition in Tonkean macaques: Who decides? Ethology 2017 DOI: 10.1111/eth.12605
•    Relocation stress induces short-term fecal cortisol increase in Tonkean macaques (Macaca tonkeana). Primates 2016-11 DOI: 10.1007/s10329-016-0590-7
•    Growth rates in a captive population of Tonkean macaques.
Primates 2015-03 DOI: 10.1007/s10329-015-0465-3
•    The function of greetings in male Tonkean macaques. American journal of primatology 2014-04 DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22288
•    Collective arousal when reuniting after temporary separation in Tonkean macaques. American journal of physical anthropology 2011-09 PMID: 21952920 DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21606
•    Interactions Between Third Parties and Consortship Partners in Tonkean Macaques (Macaca tonkeana) International Journal of Primatology 2011 DOI: 10.1007/s10764-011-9496-9
•    Conflicts induce affiliative interactions among bystanders in a tolerant species of macaque (Macaca tonkeana) Animal Behaviour 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.04.01

photo Arianna De Marco

These and other papers are available on Researchgate, or may be requested to or downloaded from the following addresses.


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