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Discarded bottles entrap endemic small mammals species in a large Mediterranean island

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Abstract

We examined the entrapment effect of discarded bottles on small mammals, along a road network located in North-Western Sardinia (Italy). On 162 bottles, 49 (> 30%) contained at least one animal specimen (invertebrate or vertebrate) and 26 (16%) entrapped 151 small mammals: insectivorous shrews (Soricomorpha) were more frequently recorded. Larger bottles (66 cl.) showed a higher number of entrapped mammals, but difference was not significant when compared to smaller bottles (33 cl.). Our data highlighted as abandoned bottles represent a threatening factor for small mammals on a large Mediterranean island with over-represented endemic shrews (predators of high trophic level) attracted by insects entrapped in bottles. Correspondence analysis suggest a weak segregation between bottles of different size, related to the abundance of the most entrapped species, the Mediterranean shrew (Crocidura pachyura). This still neglected type of litter, reducing number and biomass of insectivorous mammals of high trophic level and high ecological value may affect the food web in terrestrial insular communities, yet impoverished for biogeographical reasons. However, discarded bottles may represent as low-cost surrogate pitfall traps useful to improve knowledge in poor studied areas. Following the DPSIR (Driving force, Pressure, State, Impact, Response) approach as a framework to select indicator, we suggest as the effectiveness of removal clean-ups could be monitored using both the density of discarded bottles (as indicator of threat pressure) and the abundance of entrapped animals (as indicator of impact on small mammals).

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Acknowledgements

Giuliano Milana provided further data on literature about Sardinian small mammals. Three anonymous reviewers and the Managing Editor (Philippe Garrigues) largely improved the first and the second draft of the manuscript, providing useful comments and suggestions.

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Vincenzo Ferri and Corrado Battisti: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, field sampling; Corrado Battisti: writing—original draft and supervision; Paolo Crescia and Vincenzo Ferri: data analysis and taxonomy.

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Correspondence to Corrado Battisti.

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Highlights

• About 16 % of discarded bottles contained small mammals.

• Largest glass bottles showed a higher number of entrapped mammals.

• Endemic shrews of higher trophic level were over-represented in bottles.

• Abandoned bottles may represent a threatening factor for insular small mammals.

• These containers may represent a low-cost traps useful to improve knowledge.

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Ferri, V., Crescia, P. & Battisti, C. Discarded bottles entrap endemic small mammals species in a large Mediterranean island. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 57164–57173 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-023-26133-y

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