, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 367-378

Use of insect rarity for biotope prioritisation: the tenebrionid beetles of the Central Apennines (Italy)

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Abstract

Insect conservation has been traditionally based mainly on the identification of priority biotopes. One of the most commonly used criteria for biotope prioritisation is the occurrence of priority species, hence the need for measures of species vulnerability. In this paper a two-step protocol for biotope prioritisation is proposed. Firstly, insect species vulnerability is estimated from rarity measures that can be easily derived from basic data. Then, these values of vulnerability are used to rank biotopes. The method was applied here to the tenebrionid beetles of the Central Apennines, a montane area of high conservation concern for South Europe. Their use in this paper is an example of the use of data hidden in museum collections for analyses dealing with traditionally overlooked insect groups. Most of conservation decisions for Mediterranean mountains are biased towards certain vertebrates. Although current management practices in the preserves of the study area are generally consistent with the conservation of tenebrionids (especially woodland protection, which is essential for arboreal species), results provided in this study stress the importance of preserving also open biotopes, which are crucial for many taxa, including several endemic forms. Moreover, there is indication that preservation of such kind of biotopes would be important also for vertebrates. The approach for biotope prioritisation based on species rarity was here applied to a single animal taxon, but it can be easily extended to other insect groups, in order to obtain a more general view of the relative importance of different biotope types for Apennine conservation.