Early View Articles

1 January 2022

Unplanned restoration: Pallid swifts recover twenty years after rat removal from a Mediterranean island

Jean-Louis Martin, Jean-Claude Thibault
Results from an experimental study from 1994 suggested that Black Rats, introduced on small Mediterranean islands, restricted Pallid Swift nesting to a small number of sites inaccessible to rats. We report here that the removal of rats in 2000 to restore a seabird population was followed by an unplanned increase of nesting Pallid Swifts through an increase in the number and variety of nest sites used, including low and easily reachable sites.
2 February 2022

European Rollers thief nailed by DNA found in a bird carrier

Luisa Garofalo, Rita Fanelli, Annalisa Brucoli, Sebastian Cannarella, Rita Lorenzini
In 2018, a bird poacher, who used to remove chicks illegally from their wild nests in Central Italy, was the focus of a complex investigation by law-enforcement. Several clues were found suggesting his illegal activity against wildlife, and some items were seized by the authorities from his home, including a carrier probably used to restrain birds. The bird carrier was delivered to the Forensic Genetics Laboratory (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana “M. Aleandri”) where evidence of the offense was looked for through molecular tools. To identify the species of origin for the poached birds, portions of two mitochondrial markers (Cytochrome b and Cytochrome oxidase I) were amplified and sequenced using the DNA isolated from biological traces that were found inside the carrier. Sequences from the evidence samples were compared for homology with those lodged in online genetic repositories. The results revealed that at least one individual of European roller (Coracias garrulus), a protected bird species listed as vulnerable in the Italian Red List, had been restrained in that pet carrier. Species identification was further confirmed through comparison with sequences from an in-house C. garrulus sample. Eventually, the suspect and seven more people were formally charged with poaching of protected species, and a long list of further crimes.