ARTIFICIAL TANKS FOR AMPHIBIAN CONSERVATION IN MEDITERRANEAN RURAL LANDSCAPES
In NW Italy, the abandonment of traditional farming is causing the loss of small artificial water reservoirs that are often used by amphibians as trophic and breeding habitats. Starting in 2010, a regional conservation project implemented in Val di Vara (Liguria, NW Italy), had the goal of improving the conservation status of the endangered Yellow-bellied toad (Bombina pachypus) and other local amphibians. During this project, nine artificial tanks equipped with special concrete ramps were built. These artificial tanks were constructed under the responsibility of Montemarcello-Magra-Vara Regional Park managers, while local landowners committed to their maintenance by signing an agreement. After more than 10 years, all the tanks are still functional and have been used by five amphibian species (Bombina pachypus, Ichthyosaura alpestris, Rana dalmatina, Salamandra salamandra and Triturus carnifex), as reproductive or shelter habitats. Moreover, five of the tanks are still used for watering livestock or as nature-based attractors and thus were beneficial to local farmers. These long-term positive outcomes of the project highlight that traditional farming systems may effectively protect both Mediterranean cultural landscape and local biodiversity.