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      The good, the bad and the ugly of COVID-19 lockdown effects on wildlife conservation: Insights from the first European locked down country


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          The COVID-19 pandemic zoonosis has determined extensive lockdowns worldwide that provide an unprecedented opportunity to understand how large-scale shifts of human activities can impact wildlife. We addressed the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on wildlife in Italy, the first European country that performed a countrywide lockdown, and identified potentially beneficial and negative consequences for wildlife conservation and management. We combined a qualitative analysis of social media information with field data from multiple taxa, data from citizen science projects, and questionnaires addressed to managers of protected areas. Both social media information and field data suggest that a reduction of human disturbance allowed wildlife to exploit new habitats and increase daily activity. The field data confirmed some positive effects on wildlife conservation, such as an increase in species richness in temporarily less-disturbed habitats, a higher breeding success of an aerial insectivorous bird, and reduction of road-killing of both amphibians and reptiles. Despite some positive effects, our data also highlighted several negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on wildlife. The lower human disturbance linked to lockdown was in fact beneficial for invasive alien species. Results from questionnaires addressed to managers of protected areas highlighted that the COVID-19 lockdown interrupted actions for the control of invasive alien species, and hampered conservation activities targeting threatened taxa. Furthermore, the reduction of enforcement could cause a surge of illegal killing of wildlife. The COVID-19 crisis, besides having deep socio-economic impacts, might profoundly affect wildlife conservation, with potentially long-lasting effects.


          • Lockdowns following COVID-19 provide an unprecedented opportunity for conservation studies.

          • We combined multiple tools to understand Italian lockdown's effects on wildlife.

          • Wildlife exploited new habitats and increased daily activity and breeding success.

          • Also some invasive alien species took advantage from the lockdown.

          • Negative effects occurred on conservation actions and alien species eradications.

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          Most cited references53

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          COVID-19 and Italy: what next?

          Summary The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has already taken on pandemic proportions, affecting over 100 countries in a matter of weeks. A global response to prepare health systems worldwide is imperative. Although containment measures in China have reduced new cases by more than 90%, this reduction is not the case elsewhere, and Italy has been particularly affected. There is now grave concern regarding the Italian national health system's capacity to effectively respond to the needs of patients who are infected and require intensive care for SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. The percentage of patients in intensive care reported daily in Italy between March 1 and March 11, 2020, has consistently been between 9% and 11% of patients who are actively infected. The number of patients infected since Feb 21 in Italy closely follows an exponential trend. If this trend continues for 1 more week, there will be 30 000 infected patients. Intensive care units will then be at maximum capacity; up to 4000 hospital beds will be needed by mid-April, 2020. Our analysis might help political leaders and health authorities to allocate enough resources, including personnel, beds, and intensive care facilities, to manage the situation in the next few days and weeks. If the Italian outbreak follows a similar trend as in Hubei province, China, the number of newly infected patients could start to decrease within 3–4 days, departing from the exponential trend. However, this cannot currently be predicted because of differences between social distancing measures and the capacity to quickly build dedicated facilities in China.
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            The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China

            The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak expanded rapidly throughout China. Major behavioral, clinical, and state interventions have been undertaken to mitigate the epidemic and prevent the persistence of the virus in human populations in China and worldwide. It remains unclear how these unprecedented interventions, including travel restrictions, affected COVID-19 spread in China. We use real-time mobility data from Wuhan and detailed case data including travel history to elucidate the role of case importation on transmission in cities across China and ascertain the impact of control measures. Early on, the spatial distribution of COVID-19 cases in China was explained well by human mobility data. Following the implementation of control measures, this correlation dropped and growth rates became negative in most locations, although shifts in the demographics of reported cases were still indicative of local chains of transmission outside Wuhan. This study shows that the drastic control measures implemented in China substantially mitigated the spread of COVID-19.
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              The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: what we know

              Highlights • The latest summary of the COVID-19 outbreak in China. • There might be an oral-fecal transmission of the virus. • Aggregates and consolidates the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatments and preventions of this new type of coronavirus.

                Author and article information

                Biol Conserv
                Biol. Conserv
                Biological Conservation
                Elsevier Ltd.
                21 August 2020
                September 2020
                21 August 2020
                : 249
                : 108728
                [a ]Dipartimento di Scienze e Politiche Ambientali, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 26, I-20133 Milano, Italy
                [b ]Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Ricerca sugli Ecosistemi Terrestri, Via Madonna del Piano 10, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
                [c ]Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Informatica e Statistica, Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia, Via Torino 55, I-30172 Venezia, Italy
                [d ]Osservatorio Ornitologico Pianura Bresciana ‘Padernello’, via Cavour 1, I-25022 Borgo San Giacomo, BS, Italy
                [e ]Fondazione Lombardia per l'Ambiente, Settore biodiversità e aree protette, Largo 10 luglio 1976 1, I-20822 Seveso, MB, Italy
                [f ]Museo delle Scienze, Sezione di Zoologia dei Vertebrati, Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, I-38122 Trento, Italy
                [g ]Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, LECA, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, Rue de la Piscine 2233, F-38000 Grenoble, France
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. raoulmanenti@ 123456gmail.com
                S0006-3207(20)30786-2 108728
                © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                : 14 May 2020
                : 14 July 2020
                : 2 August 2020

                coronavirus, conservation, crisis, pandemic, wildlife, fauna


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