For all researches, please visit our "Peer-reviewed publications" page.
Calderón L, Campagna L, Wilke T, Lormee H, Eraud C, Dunn J et al. (2016)
Genomic evidence of demographic fluctuations and lack of genetic structure across flyways in a long distance migrant, the European turtle dove
BMC Evolutionary Biology 16(1) 237.
Understanding how past climatic oscillations have affected organismic evolution will help predict the impact that current climate change has on living organisms. The European turtle dove, Streptopelia turtur, is a warm-temperature adapted species and a long distance migrant that uses multiple flyways to move between Europe and Africa. Despite being abundant, it is categorized as vulnerable because of a long-term demographic decline. We studied the demographic history and population genetic structure of the European turtle dove using genomic data and mitochondrial DNA sequences from individuals sampled across Europe, and performing paleoclimatic niche modelling simulations. Overall our data suggest that this species is panmictic across Europe, and is not genetically structured across flyways. We found the genetic signatures of demographic fluctuations, inferring an effective population size (Ne) expansion that occurred between the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, followed by a decrease in the Ne that started between the mid Holocene and the present. Our niche modelling analyses suggest that the variations in the Ne are coincident with recent changes in the availability of suitable habitat. We argue that the European turtle dove is prone to undergo demographic fluctuations, a trait that makes it sensitive to anthropogenic impacts, especially when its numbers are decreasing. Also, considering the lack of genetic structure, we suggest all populations across Europe are equally relevant for conservation.
Keywords: Climate change, Conservation, Demography, Genomics, Migratory birds, Paleoclimatic, Population genetic structure, niche modelling
Mifsud S, Napier M, Fenech S, Cassar L (2016)
Fl. Medit 26 69-80.
Asplenium sagittatum is a rare, indigenous fern which was assumed extinct in the dated Maltese Red Data book until 2008 when a small number of individuals was rediscovered. New records of this fern are reported, including a large and important population located in the north of mainland Malta. For the first time, the anatomical characters of Maltese material are described and compared with those of material from central Europe. The paper also presents taxonomical clarifications dealing with A. scolopendrium, as also the results of a local Red List assessment for this endangered fern.
Keywords: Asplenium scolopendrium, Central Mediterranean region, Red List, ferns, flora of Malta, pteridophytes
Mifsud S (2014)
The Central Mediterranean Naturalist 5(3-4) 26-51.
A detailed study on the taxonomy, distribution and populations of Persicaria spp. occurring on the Maltese Islands is carried out based on field surveys between 2008 and 2011. Four taxa are recognised in this study: two forms of Persicaria senegalensis, P. lanigera and P. salicifolia, of which only the latter is native. A taxonomical overview of these species and a detailed account of the distribution and size of the populations of each species (including new records) is given. Habitat preference of the species and their significance in Maltese wetland ecosystems are discussed.
Keywords: distribution, malta, persicaria, polygonum, taxonomy, wetland flora
Mifsud S (2013)
Distribution of some rare or endemic chasmophytic and rupestral species growing along the coastal cliffs of the Maltese Islands
Webbia 68(1) 35-50.
This paper gives a detailed account of the distribution of endemic or rare species that comprise part of the chasmophytic and rupestral vegetative community lining the Maltese coastal cliffs. The species discussed in this paper are the following: Palaeocyanus crassifolius (Bertoloni) Dostál; Cremnophyton lanfrancoi Brullo and Pavone; Helichrysum melitense (Pignatti) Brullo, Lanfranco, Pavone and Ronsisvalle; Linaria pseudolaxiflora Lojacono; Asparagus horridus L. and Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. arvense (Guss.) Arcang. The first four are species found in article 17 of the Maltese habitats and species, listed in the annexes of the Habitats Directive by the European Commission. Asparagus horridus and Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. arvense are recent additions to the flora of Malta, and their distribution is given in this account. Discussion on the distribution and observations on the preferred habitat are given for each species supplemented by recommendations for the red data book.
Keywords: Article 17, Malta, Maltese flora, coastal cliffs, endemic, rupestral species
Mifsud S (2012)
Marasmius Corbariensis (Roum.) Singer (Family Marasmiaceae Roze Ex Kuhner) - A New Fungal Species for Malta
The Central Mediterranean Naturalist 5(3-4) 52-53.
A population of Marasmius corbariensis (Roum.) Singer was found in an olive grove at ix-Xewkija, Gozo. Being a new agaric for the Maltese Islands, details on this population and habitat is given in this communication.
Keywords: Agaricales, Malta, Marasmiaceae, Marasmius, Marasmius corbariensis, fungi