Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 555–565 | Cite as

Conflict between insect conservation and public safety: the case study of a saproxylic beetle (Osmoderma eremita) in urban parks

  • Giuseppe Maria CarpanetoEmail author
  • Adriano Mazziotta
  • Giorgia Coletti
  • Luca Luiselli
  • Paolo Audisio
Original Paper


Urban parks can harbour small populations of saproxylic insects of high conservation concern, such as Osmoderma eremita and other rare beetles. These areas often host old trees which have become very uncommon in rural areas where they are threatened by commercial forestry management procedures based on frequent tree cutting. Nevertheless, old trees of urban parks may represent a hazard for public safety and are sometimes cut by management authorities. The aim of this work was to assess the loss of reproductive sites for saproxylic beetles of the Scarabaeidae, Lucanidae and Cerambycidae, when felling plans are adopted according to a Visual Tree Assessment Procedure (VTA), in a Mediterranean urban park. On July–August 2004, 1,247 holm oaks were surveyed within the border of an urban park of Rome (Villa Borghese). The occurrence of saproxylic beetles (i.e. the presence of frass, living insects or their remains) was verified in 66 old holm oaks, 41% of which were doomed to cutting by VTA. Eleven of these trees (41% of the trees doomed to be cut) held fragments of adults and sometimes living larvae of Osmoderma eremita, and four of them (36%) were included in the felling plan. The presence of Osmoderma eremita in tree holes was more frequent in deep cavities. The presence of frass in the cavities was positively associated with tree height and a high degree of damage at the root collar and negatively with the presence of hole-nesting birds.


Dead wood Habitat directive Saproxylic beetles Site of community importance Urban ecosystems Visual tree assessment 



We are grateful to Bruno Cignini, executive manager of the Rome Municipality (10th Department: Environment and Agriculture Policies/Conservation and management of vast areas and biodiversity) for providing facilities and funding. A special thank is due for Fabio Nicolai (Zoological Museum, Rome) for field assistance and help.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe Maria Carpaneto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adriano Mazziotta
    • 1
  • Giorgia Coletti
    • 2
  • Luca Luiselli
    • 3
  • Paolo Audisio
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity “Roma Tre”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Animal and Human Biology“Sapienza” UniversityRomeItaly
  3. 3.Centre of Environmental Studies Demetra S.r.l.RomeItaly

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