Animals

The wildlife in the Reserve is rich and varied, including 24 red-listed species (Red Book of Italian animals) and lists of Community interest. It is home to 31% of Italian animal species and a full 56% of those occurring in Lazio.
In all, 142 species of vertebrates have been recorded, including 24 on the Red List (19% of the total), an extremely high figure for such a small area, confirming the diversity of habitats present and their excellent state of conservation.

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MAMMALS
 
The carnivores include a number of species of particular importance and classified as vulnerable in the Red List, including the wolf (Canis lupus) reported only sporadically and the wild cat (Felis silvestris), a regular presence in woods in the Mignone Valley.
 
There are also a number of mustelids such as the badger (Meles meles), polecat (Mustela putorius) and pine marten (Martes martes), a typical woodland species.
 
The otter (Lutra lutra), reported in the Mignone valley until the 1970s, has disappeared and its place has been taken by the coypu (Myocastor coypus), a species introduced from South America.  The hare, associated with pasture with scrub, uncultivated land and clearings, is represented by a species typical of central Italy, the Italian hare (Lepus corsicanus). The only ungulate present is the wild boar (Sus scrofa), a species with particularly heavy implications for Reserve management.
Present in limited numbers in the past, since the 1950s it has become increasingly common due to the favourable environmental conditions and repeated introduction of animals coming from central Europe for hunting purposes. These have crossed with the remaining autochthonous animals, producing a larger animal breeding more rapidly than the native Maremmana race which is no longer recognisable.
 
The crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata) is quite common and seems to have recovered from the fierce persecution of the past, although this has not completely ceased.
 
Eleven species of small mammal have been reported (from an analysis of owl pellets), including the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius), bicolored shrew (Crocidura leucodon) and Apennine Shrew (Sorex samniticus), together with Savi’s pine vole (Microtus savii), mice including the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) and wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) and bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus).
The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) has recently been reported, a sign of the good health of the woodland ecosystems.
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BIRDS
 
The Reserve boasts a full 92 species of birds, including 79 nesting species and the rest over wintering or migratory.
The majority of the species (46%) live and breed in open habitats (including scrubland), 37% are associated with the woods, 9% with the edges of fields, hedges, archaeological sites etc, and 8% with wetlands.
 
Among the birds of prey, the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) has been locally extinct since the early 1970s, while the red kite (Milvus milvus) is particularly important. The Italian population is estimated at just 130-150 pairs with just 3-5 pairs in Lazio, all in the Tolfa Mountains. Another particularly important bird of prey (Italian population 200-400 pairs with 20-40 pairs at regional level) is the short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus) which hunts in the Bandita, Poggio Martino and Mercareccia areas and whose diet includes snakes.
Other birds of prey which use the open habitats as hunting grounds while nesting in woods or rocky walls are the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), common buzzard (Buteo Buteo), hobby (Falco subbuteo), honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) and black kite (Milvus migrans). Eight out of the 13 species of birds of prey nesting in Lazio are found in the Monterano Nature Reserve.  The old ruins of Monterano are home to the barn owl (Tyto alba), little owl (Athene noctua) and tawny owl (Strix aluco).
The little owl and long-eared owl (Asio otus), whose numbers are dropping worryingly in Italy, are present together with another nocturnal bird, the nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus). Like the above, this favours meadows and uncultivated land broken by hedges and thin woodland.  The passerines found in the open habitats include the greater whitethroat (Sylvia communis), melodious warbler (Hippolais poliglotta), subalpine warbler (Sylvia cantillans), woodchat shrike (Lanius senator), red-backed shrike (Lanius collirio) and cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus). The transitional areas between the woods and fields are inhabited by the hoopoe (Upupa epops), wryneck (Jynx torquilla), short-toed lark (Calandrella brachydactyla), golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus), firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus) and long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus).
There are colonies of the brightly coloured European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) in the Mercareccia area and banks along the Bicione and Mignone.
 
The woods are home to four species of tit, the least common being the coal tit (Parus ater) and marsh tit (Parus palustris). Woodpeckers include the green woodpecker (Picus viridis), commonest and associated with transitional habitats between woodland and clearings, the more strictly forest-dwelling great spotted woodpecker (Picoides major), associated with more mature woodland or trees of a certain size, the short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) and the Eurasian nuthatch (Sitta europaea).
The wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) nests here, but the European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), a migrating nesting species, is commoner and more abundant.  The European roller (Coracias garrulus) (300-500 pairs in Italy, between 10 to 100 in Lazio) frequents a number of rock walls and abandoned buildings in the Reserve, with at least one nesting pair.
Of particularly importance is the presence of the stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), very rare in Lazio and never recorded in the Province of Rome.
 
The most typically woodland bird of prey is the difficult-to-spot sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), represented by one pair nesting in the least accessible woods. The long-eared owl (Asio otus) is also present.
 
The lakes in the old quarries in the Mercareccia area provide a nesting ground for a few pairs of little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) and common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), while the coot (Fulica atra) overwinters here.  The kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) can often be seen along the banks of the Mignone river. Also present are the Cetti’s warbler (Cettia cetti), blue-headed wagtail (Motacilla flava), white wagtail (Motacilla alba), common snipe (Gallinago gallinago), night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), grey heron (Ardea cinerea), little egret (Egretta garzetta) and a number of species of duck such as the tufted duck (Aythya fuligula).
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REPTILES
 
This class is represented by numerous species, in particular snakes, with a full eight species out of the ten known in Lazio.  The most common are the western whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus), frequent in all habitats, and the asp viper (Vipera aspis). Rarer are the tree-dwelling four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata) and Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus). Also present are the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) and southern smooth snake (Coronella girondica). The southern smooth snake and four-lined snake are in the Red Book of Italian animals in the low risk category.
 
The Natrix genus is represented by the dice snake (Natrix tessellata) and the more common grass snake (Natrix natrix).
The Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) and European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis) are both rare and threatened.
Old houses and the walls of old Monterano are home to the wall gecko (Tarentola mauritanica) and Turkish gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus).
As well as the more frequent common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) and Italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula), the green lizard (Lacerta viridis), Italian three-toed skink (Chalcides chalcides) and slow worm (Anguis fragilis) are also present.
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AMPHIBIANS
 
Of the nine species in this class present in the Reserve (30% of the species on the Red List), the most interesting is the southern spectacled salamander (Salamandrina terdigitata). The only genus of terrestrial vertebrate endemic to Italy and the only species of its genus living in Italy, it is on the Bern Convention list of protected species and is also protected (in common with the other amphibians) by Italian Regional Law no. 18 of 5/4/1988. Other urodele ("with a tail") amphibians present in the Reserve include the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) and much commoner smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris meriodionalis) which live in springs and small pools along a number of streams.
 
Anuran ("without tail") amphibians include the edible frog (Rana esculenta complex) which lives in all the Reserve’s wetland areas, the agile frog (Rana dalmatina) and the Italian frog (Rana italica), less bound to water and present in damp woodland and along torrents.
Rare and becoming ever more so is the Italian tree frog (Hyla intermedia). The toad (Bufo bufo) is common, less so the green toad (Bufo viridis).
 
Among the most interesting habitats from a wildlife point of view, the Bicione, Fosso Lenta and Mignone gorges and their plant cover are of particular ecological importance as they represent "biotic corridors", preferential paths which facilitate the passage of fauna, fundamentally important in a region largely transformed by agriculture and urban development.
Ultimo aggiornamento: 3.09.2009 (15:28)   Stampa Stampa