Cioccarelli, Sara

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  • Data package
    Data from: Post-fledging habitat selection of a Purple Heron Ardea purpurea revealed by GPS/GSM telemetry
    (2021-09-10) Morganti, Michelangelo; Viganò, Enrico; Berlusconi, Alessandro; Cioccarelli, Sara; Fasola, Mauro
    The Purple Heron is a species of conservation concern in Europe, mainly threatened by the progressive degradation and reduction of wetlands. For future conservation practice, it is of pivotal importance to gather detailed knowledge of its habitat preferences. In June 2018, a nestling of Purple Heron from a sub-Alpine Lake in Northern Italy was equipped with a GPS/GSM device. Habitat selection during the post-fledging period (mid-July to mid-October) was analysed by superimposing the GPS locations to a fine-grained field-based map, discerning 14 habitat classes as well as narrow (<2 m) and wide (≥2 m) ditches. The contours of the home range were defined as the 99% kernel calculated on all the gathered locations, which were successively sub selected only retaining 2,017 locations representing the position of the bird every hour and all day long. Within the home range, the habitat availability was estimated by generating 10,000 random distributions of the locations. We firstly verified whether wide ditches were more frequently used by the heron if compared to narrow ones. Eventually, we calculated the ratio between the number of true and random locations falling into the different habitat classes, obtaining a series of class-specific selection ratios. We found a significant preference towards wide ditches compared to narrow ones. Freshly renewed reedbeds and cattail beds were strongly favoured, while high-bearing sedges and Black Alder were also significantly preferred but with lower indices. All the remaining habitats, including mature reedbeds, were significantly avoided. Our results reinforce the indication that the protection of minor landscape elements as ditches and small patches of wet habitats may be of pivotal importance to foster the long-term conservation of bird communities linked to the residual wetlands of the sub-Alpine belt.
  • Data package
    Data from: GPS tracking technology and re-visiting the relationship between the avian visual wulst and homing pigeon navigation
    (2024-04-02) Cioccarelli, Sara; Giunchi, Dimitri; Pollonara, Enrica; Casini, Giovanni; Bingman, Verner P.; Gagliardo, Anna
    Within their familiar areas homing pigeons rely on familiar visual landscape features and landmarks for homing. However, the neural basis of visual landmark-based navigation has been so far investigated mainly in relation to the role of the hippocampal formation. The avian visual Wulst is the telencephalic projection field of the thalamofugal pathway that has been suggested to be involved in processing lateral visual inputs that originate from the far visual field. The Wulst is therefore a good candidate for a neural structure participating in the visual control of familiar visual landmark-based navigation. We repeatedly released and tracked Wulst-lesioned and control homing pigeons from three sites about 10-15 km from the loft. Wulst lesions did not impair the ability of the pigeons to orient homeward during the first release from each of the three sites nor to localise the loft within the home area. In addition, Wulst-lesioned pigeons displayed unimpaired route fidelity acquisition to a repeated homing path compared to the intact birds. However, compared to control birds, Wulst-lesioned pigeons displayed persistent oscillatory flight patterns across releases, diminished attention to linear (leading lines) landscape features, such as roads and wood edges, and less direct flight paths within the home area. Differences and similarities between the effects of Wulst and hippocampal lesions suggest that although the visual Wulst does not seem to play a direct role in the memory representation of a landscape-landmark map, it does seem to participate in influencing the perceptual construction of such a map.