Biological significance and conservation of biogeographical bird populations as shown by selected Mediterranean species

Massa B.

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From the conservation point of view there is an important difference between species that are treated as whole and species considered as separate subspecies; these represent important components of biodiversity and deserve conservation for their potential evolution and their characteristics. EU Bird Directive shows an attempt to protect subspecific taxa, when really necessary for conservation purposes. There are some examples of species regarded as secure, if considered as whole, that turn out to be endangered or critically endangered when treated as subspecies (e.g. Mediterranean storm petrel, lanner falcon, rock partridge, Andalusian hemipode, long-tailed tit and crossbill). Status of some species should have to be modified, basing information on more objective comparison with those available for related species (e.g. the pairs Manx and Yelkouan shearwaters, European and spotless starling, and North African blue tit). Moreover, some species have a very restricted distribution, that might be considered an endemic bird area, holding two or more species with a range covering less than 50,000 km2 (e.g.: Marmora’s warbler, Cyprus warbler, Cyprus wheatear and Corsican citril finch). Here I suggest to reconsider, among future conservation priorities, the status of a number of S European species in the light of previous considerations, avoiding some paradoxes, such as incongruity of risk level, when compared to other bird species.