Native and alien squirrels in Italy
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Di.Va.P.R.A. Entomologia e Zoologia, Università di Torino
CNR, Centro Genetica Evoluzionistica
Publication date: 2000-09-10
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2000;11(2)
Abstract In Italy there are four species of squirrels: the native red squirrel and other three species recently introduced. The red squirrel is present in the Italian peninsula with three subspecies, and is missing only in Salento, and Italian islands. This species is common on Alps and Apennines, while in the plains it is declining because of the habitat loss. Competition with the grey squirrel and habitat fragmentation are considered the major threats to the survival of the red squirrel. The grey squirrel is present in Piedmont and Liguria. A study on the Piedmontese colony showed that the red squirrel is disappearing from the area colonised by the grey squirrel and the damage due to bark-stripping and feeding is considerable. Free-ranging populations of the Siberian chipmunk live in Belluno, Verona, and Rome, but records of single animals were reported for other areas. The Finlayson's squirrel is present with a small nucleus in an urban area of Piedmont. Here, the impact of this species on the vegetation appears dramatic. The eradication of the grey squirrel is a priority for the conservation of the red squirrel, but control plans for the other introduced species are also needed.
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