Sampling in paradise: the Aeolian lizard in Strombolicchio e La Canna 23.12.2020

Sampling can be difficult, exhausting, and dangerous, but also rewarding and unforgettable. One of the Endemixit species, the beautiful Aeolian wall lizard (Podarcis raffonei), has a quite nice distribution range. You can find them in some little volcanic islands and rocks in the Aeolian archipelago, about 50 km north of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. We went there at the end of July 2020 (this is a very late post…), when the weather is nice, the sea is calm, and you can easily dock on the smallest rocks and islets, where, with very little suitable habitats, the Aeolian lizard live and reproduce. In particular, we focused on Strombolicchio, with an estimated population size of few hundreds, and La Canna, an ancient finger-like volcanic pipe with an estimated population size of few dozens.
Sampling in La Canna required the assistance and the guidance of an expert Alpine guide, Lorenzo. One of us, Daniele, reached with Lorenzo a terrace in complete safety, and started the sampling in a little area of few square meters suspended between the sea and the sky. All the others, Giorgio, Emiliano and Claudio, scrupulously controlled the situation while swimming in crystal-clear waters.
The sampling was highly successful, and we collected a small piece of tail (immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen) from a few individuals. Tissues will be used both for the reference genome assembly, and for resequencing. We are all very curious to see the results!
It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it!

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