The conservation of the chamois Rupicapra spp.

Authors

  • Luca CORLATTI,

    1. Research Unit of Behavioural Ecology, Ethology and Wildlife Management, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Siena, Via T. Pendola 62, 53100 Siena, Italy, and Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management, Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Gregor-Mendel-Str. 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria. E-mail: luca.corlatti@unisi.it
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Rita LORENZINI,

    1. Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Regioni Lazio e Toscana, Via Tancia 21, 02100 Rieti, Italy. E-mail: rita.lorenzini@izslt.it
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sandro LOVARI

    1. Research Unit of Behavioural Ecology, Ethology and Wildlife Management, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Siena, Via T. Pendola 62, 53100 Siena, Italy. E-mail: lovari@unisi.it
    Search for more papers by this author

ABSTRACT

  • 1Despite it being the most abundant mountain dwelling ungulate of Europe and the Near East, the taxonomy, systematics and biology of the chamois are still imperfectly known. Although neither species of chamois is at risk, several subspecies are threatened (Rupicapra rupicapra cartusiana, Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica and Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica; Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata. Rupicapra rupicapra asiatica is data-deficient but probably threatened).
  • 2A life history with apparently contradictory relationships between survival, sexual dimorphism and mating system suggests a unique survival strategy not yet fully understood. Over the last century, morphologic, biometric, behavioural and genetic features have been studied to shed light on the phylogeography and monophyly or polyphyly of the chamois as well as on the number of existing species and subspecies of the genus Rupicapra.
  • 3The dispersal hypothesis, according to which R. rupicapra migrated westward from eastern Europe in the Quaternary, confining R. pyrenaica to the southernmost regions of Europe, has been recently called into question by some molecular analyses that yielded contradictory results.
  • 4In spite of subtleties relevant to each method of analysis, an overall evaluation of differences between the R. rupicapra and the R. pyrenaica groups strongly supports the functional separation of the taxa into two species.
  • 5Further studies on the ecology of chamois, as well as on the epidemiology of severe diseases, e.g. sarcoptic mange, are needed to improve the management of viable populations.
  • 6Before translocations and reintroductions are carried out, the risk of hybridization leading to genetic extinction should be evaluated.

Ancillary