The Archivio Moncharmont: a pioneering biodiversity assessment in the Gulf of Naples (Italy)

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In these last years the importance of marine species check-lists and floristic and faunal data bases has been strongly re-evaluated, as this information represents a useful tool to assess the biodiversity of geographic areas or single habitats, in relation to biogeographic and ecological comparisons of the past and actual environmental conditions, and to conservation problems of the marine biota In the present contribution we wish to present a synthesis of the “Moncharmont Project,” a program conducted in collaboration with the Historical Archives of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, and devoted to the acquisition, data base construction, and a first evaluation of the Archivio of Prof. Ugo Moncharmont (1913-2000). Prof. Moncharmont has been for many years collaborator and consultant for the Zoology Department at the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, exerting a thorough supervision of the marine specimens collected for the Museum and for the zoological and biological work of the Institute’s scientist hosts. 1 Actual adress: Santa Maria a Cubito 687, 80145 Napoli, Italy. 460 Maria Cristina GaMbi, isabella D’aMbra, Graziano Fiorito, et al. This Archivio, which has been electronically acquired as a pdf document and as a data-base in Excel, is represented by 5389 hand-written file cards, which have been mainly compiled between 1960 and 1968 (with additions and revisions up to 1985), and that include and give information on 4659 marine animal species belonging to 24 Phyla. The Archivio Moncharmont represents a bridge of knowledge between the past historical information on the biodiversity of the Gulf of Naples (dating back to the time of Anton Dohrn and Salvatore Lo Bianco), and the actual, recent one deriving from modern studies conducted mainly by the ecology research groups of the Stazione Zoologica and other scientific Institutions acting in Naples. The importance of the Archivio Moncharmont is given with some examples of species once very common and now quite rare and desperately wanted by marine biologists, or on the contrary on species still common or that have increased their frequency and colonization success due to favourable climate and environmental changes. Finally, a useful actualization of the information occurring in the Archivio Moncharmont can be achieved with a GIS map of some species, e.g., the potential preys of the common cephalopod Octopus vulgaris in the Gulf of Naples.