Scientific Activities

Research activity

    All my scientific works have been done taking in particular attention the conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. In this respect I conducted many studies and field research on the Italian spadefoot toad, Pelobates fuscus insubricus, a peculiar fossorial toadlet inhabiting the Po Plain (N. Italy), and currently considered one of the most threatened amphibians of Europe. Part of these studies was funded by WWF Italy and by the European Union, and led to the redaction of a devoted action plan. In this regard he served as coordinator for Italy within the atlas project of Europe and for the Piedmonte and Aosta Valley. Other conservation oriented inititatives dealt with the application of PVA models to the Lanza’s salamander (a taxon by him discovered and described in the late eighties) and with a general classification in terms of conservation priority for the amphibians of Italy. More recently he acted as co-editor and co-author of the Fauna d'Italia (Fauna of Italy) dedicated to the amphibians, a much expected and prestigious monographic contribution. At the same time, large part of my activity in the field was devoted to the amphibians and reptiles of Madagascar. In fact, I conducted in this country more than 20 field expeditions, visiting several rainforests, high plateau habitats and dry forests. During more than 20 years of work and studies in Madagascar I collaborated with the major herpetologists, approaching multidisciplinary themes. I described new species and analysed phylogenetic relationships, unveiled aspects of natural history by using cature-recapture methods and sklethochronology (used for the first time on rainforest amphibians), and applying multivariate systems to verify the conservation threats affecting the peculiar and rich amphibian fauna of Madagascar. In this sense I collaborated and led the application of the Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) to Madagascar, by assuming the chair for Madagascar of Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force (DAPTF), successively transformed into Amphibian Specialist Group. To achieve this result I also manages an email list (MadFauna-Herp) and a specific website dedicated to the conservation of Malagasy amphibians. I organised the ACSAM (A Conservation Strategy for the amphibians of Madagascar) Initiative, which took place at Antananarivo, 18-21 September 2006. From this meeting, to which participated more than 100 experts for Madagascar and elsewhere, took origin the Sahonagasy Action Plan (an action plan for the whole amphibian fauna of Madagascar), a monographic volume edited by the MRSN, and a popular booklet, Threatened amphibians of Madagascar, translated in both Italian and French. More recently I co-organised a workshop on the chytrid in Madagascar.

    Biodiversity and Conservation

    • Biodiversity and conservation of the herpetofauna of Madagascar, with surveys in protected and non-protected areas and proposals of integrations of species in CITES lists.
    • Realisation of an action plan destined to the amphibians of Madagascar, with the ACSAM and ASG initiatives.
    • Conservation of the Italian herpetofauna, with special reference to Pelobates fuscus insubricus, and Salamandra lanzai and many other threatened species of Italy.

    Biogeography and Systematics

    • Taxonomic reviews of several groups of Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar and Europe.
    • Endemicity and vicariance of Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar, with a special reference to their distribution in rainforests and in refuge massifs.

    Ecological relation and networks

    • Bioacoustics and environmental adaptations in amphibians and reptiles of Madagascar.
    • Phylopatry, Ecology and migrating movements to the breeding sites in several amphibians.
    • Age determination with skeletochronology, with a special relevance to the differences due to the adaptation to high altitude life and to the life in tropical environments.