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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 39.2 (2016) Pages: 199-205

Questioning current practice in brown bear, Ursus arctos, conservation in Europe that undervalues taxonomy

Gippoliti, S.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2016.39.0199

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Abstract

The present paper highlights problems associated with the currently–accepted taxonomy of brown bear, Ursus arctos, and their consequences for conservation at the European level. The enormous morphological variability within Ursus arctos is not acknowledged in current taxonomy and conservation practice. Seven major clades are recognized in Ursus arctos by molecular researchers, and although Western Europe maintains most of the populations belonging to the relict Clade 1 brown bear lineage, no reference to this is made in current conservation policy. Furthermore, the tiny population of Apennine brown bears, characterized by unique skull morphology, is not even recognized as a distinct ESU (evolutionari significant unit) by current European legislation, nor is it included in the IUCN Red List. This may have serious consequences as brown bear conservation in Western Europe has been mainly based on restocking and reintroduction programs.

Keywords

Ursus arctos marsicanus, Italy, Species concepts, Conservation, Semen banking, ESU

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Gippoliti, S., 2016. Questioning current practice in brown bear, Ursus arctos, conservation in Europe that undervalues taxonomy. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 39: 199-205, DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2016.39.0199

Reception date:

23/01/2016

Acceptation date:

21/04/2016

Publication date:

30/06/2016

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