Fieldwork: sampling Bombina pachypus from the “small” population in Northern Italy (part 1 of 2) 29.08.2020

One of the most exciting parts of this project is fieldwork, which provides the opportunity to observe these unique endemic species in their natural habitat. Our most recent sampling expedition aimed to collect the Apennine yellow-bellied toad Bombina pachypus from Northern Italy, in Emilia-Romagna.
B. pachypus is endemic to the Italian Apennine chain. It is characterized by its bright yellow and blue belly which is used to warn predators about its toxicity (see picture below). In Italy, the common name of this species is “ululone” (big howl) after its distinctive breeding call which closely resembles an ululate. This species lives in fragmented populations in wetland areas, one of the most delicate and threatened environments. Once common in suitable habitats, it has experienced a rapid, conspicuous decline in the last decades, which raised severe concerns for the conservation status of this species. Currently, B. pachypus is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List and urgently requires effective conservation actions.
This toad presents a genetic pattern of “southern richness and northern purity” (see post 2 on B. pachypus sequencing). In this expedition, we targeted one of the northern-most, derived populations (“small”) that are characterized by much smaller demographic size and lower genetic diversity than the Southern, source (“large”) populations.

Sampling of Bombina pachypus

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