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Mammals

The naming of the Shrew

 

Sorex arunchi is a new species of shrews that got named after Selva di Arvonchi (Arvonchi’s Woods), medieval toponym of an area within Muzzana del Turgnano’s woods where they seem to thrive. More recent studies have, however, highlighted a synonymy with Sorex antinorii, as the studies done so far do not reveal any genetic difference between the two species (read the article).

 

The Muzzana woods host a variety of mammals of large and small size. These include the wild boar (Sus scrofa), the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), the common old fox (Vulpes vulpes), the European hare (Lepus europaeus), the Eurasian badger (Meles meles), the Least weasel (Mustela nivalis vulgaris), the European polecat (Mustela putorius), the martes foina (Martes foina), the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), the West European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus italicus), the European mole (Talpa europaea) and various other micro-mammals. 

Population dynamics are worth noting. 

In recent years the population of roe deers (Capreolus capreolus) and wild boars (Sus scrofa) has significantly increased. Instead, the population of European polecats (Mustela putorius) has decreased, although they used to be common until the 1990s. Polecats are common on wetlands and river banks. They are skilled predators of small mice and amphibians and are active at dusk and nighttime. A relatively newcomer is the river rat (Myocastor coypus bonariensis). Originally from South America, river rats were imported to Europe in the 20th Century and farmed for their fur. Apparently, some specimens escaped farms in the area – or were they deliberately released? – and adapted to the habitat, as it happened in other areas of Northern Italy and Europe. This resulted in the abundant population of today. River rats live mostly along rivers and lagoon reed banks. They dig holes in the ground to build their nests, a behaviour which affects and sometimes damages human-made embankments and reeds. Such a dynamic shows the mobile balance between ecosystems, species dynamics, and human needs.

Last but not least, a new species of shrew called Sorex arunchi was classified in 1998 in the Muzzana woods. The term arunchi refers to the “ Arvonchi”, an older name of Bosco Baredi, where the species is particularly abundant. More recent studies have, however, highlighted a synonymy with Sorex antinorii, as the studies done so far do not reveal any genetic difference between the two species.

 

For a comprehensive overview of the species, please visit our checklist