Volume 156, Issue 4, page 905, October 2014

Book Reviews


BRICHETTI P. & FRACASSO G. Ornitologia Italiana. Identificazione, Distribuzione, Consistenza e Movimenti degli Uccelli Italiani. Vol. 8 Sturnidae – Fringillidae. xviii + 445 pages, numerous colour photographs, maps, colour and black-and-white figures and tables. Bologna: Oasi Alberto Perdisa Editore, 2013. Hardback, €48.00, ISBN 978-88-8372-587-6. Website: http://www.gruppoperdisaeditore.it.

The series by Brichetti and Fracasso seeks to establish ‘a sort of Yellow Pages of Italian Ornithology’, a goal that is as ambitious as it is timely, given that ornithological research in Italy has developed through multiple independent trajectories for decades, without a consistent effort to review and bring together this vast amount of work since Arrigoni degli Oddi’s Ornitologia Italiana in 1929.

The eighth volume of the series presents all the trademark strengths already outlined in previous reviews of previous volumes. Volume eight discusses 29 species belonging to four families (Sturnidae, Passeridae, Estrildidae and Fringillidae); 53 additional species, largely non-established introductions and other exotic species, are also briefly acknowledged.

The taxonomic status of the Italian Sparrow Passer italiae and its phylogenetic relation with Spanish P. hispaniolensis and House Sparrows P. domesticus, a complex and unresolved issue, is discussed in meticulous detail and with particular care. The emerging evidence of invasive and erratic movements by Italian Sparrows into the ranges of both Spanish and House Sparrow populations, as well as frequent hybridization events, indicate that these species may be evolutionarily highly dynamic, their taxonomic status in need of further investigation.

Careful discussion of two other sister taxa reflects similarly dynamic patterns: evidence of recent range expansion by Spotless Starlings Sturnus unicolor, and hybridization with Common Starlings S. vulgaris; and the rapid ecological divergence between recently speciated Corsican Citril Finch Carduelis corsicana and Citril Finch C. citrinella.
Along with the other species considered, these examples showcase the huge potential of the Mediterranean region as an evolutionary ecology laboratory.

Overall, this represents an exhaustive and authoritative reference for anybody interested in the distribution, population trends, ecology, reproductive biology, movements and conservation of these species of birds in Italy, and in Italian ornithology more broadly.

Tom Pizzari