Fieldwork: sampling Bombina pachypus from the “small” population in Northern Italy (part 2 of 2) 03.09.2020

Observing or collecting the Appennine yellow-bellied toad in its natural northern habitats is not trivial as it is mimetic and very rare. It lives in freshwater, shallow ponds in forest creeks (as the one we explored in our expedition in Emilia Romagna, northern Italy, see picture below) but also in equivalent artificial pools along ditches. Populations in the northern Italy can be as small as less than ten reproductive individuals and adults hide under submerged stones to escape from predators (and scientists). It is very difficult to spot them due to their greyish-brown dorsal colour that perfectly resemble the surrounding habitat. However, once detected, it is relatively easy to capture this toad as its defensive behaviour involves the unkenreflex, immobility and body arching to reveal its ventral bright colours, and it is not a fast jumper (see video below).
Thanks to the guidance of Daniele Canestrelli (Tuscia University), an amphibians’ expert, we were able to find five individuals during a whole day of sampling. These animals were carefully collected from a forest creek in Emilia Romagna and transferred to the laboratory facility at the Tuscia University for phenotypic measurements and DNA extraction; then, they will be returned to their natural population.

Bombina pachypus in its habitat

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