Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 5–6, pp 907–915 | Cite as

Habitat description and interannual variation in abundance and phenology of the endangered beetle Lucanus cervus L. (Coleoptera) using citizen science monitoring

  • Marcos Méndez
  • Chabier de Jaime
  • Manuel A. Alcántara


Conservation of threatened saproxylic beetles, which are often elusive, faces the problem of efficient monitoring. Lack of standard monitoring protocols has hindered the much needed assessment of temporal trends in phenology and abundance of the stag beetle, Lucanus cervus, and the development of landscape ecology studies. Our main objective was to illustrate how transects at dusk, implemented by means of citizen science projects, could provide reliable information on habitat characterization and population trends in the stag beetle. Abundance and phenology was studied in a longitudinal study during 7 years in E Spain. Habitat characterization was studied in a transversal study in N Spain. Our longitudinal study detected between-year variation in phenology (up to 4 weeks in peak activity) and abundance (twofold among maxima and minima recorded). In addition, both our longitudinal and transversal studies detected variation among sites in abundance, that was related to rainfall in the previous winter. In this sense, transects at dusk were a suitable monitoring method. Abundance variation could not be related to habitat variables. Nevertheless, we provide one of the few descriptions available of stag beetle habitat at scales of tens to hundreds of meters. Forest was the dominant vegetation in a 25 m buffer around the transects. However, open natural vegetation prevailed in a 1000 m buffer around the transects, indicating strong habitat fragmentation. We conclude that transects at dusk are easily implemented in citizen science projects and provide much needed information about temporal trends in abundance, phenology and habitat description of stag beetles.


Conservation Habitat fragmentation Saproxylic beetles Stag beetle Weather Time series 



We thank the high school teacher Rodrigo Pérez and the students Jorge Agustín, Chabier de Jaime Jr., Jorge Falcón, Laura Malo, Elena Agustín, Alicia Benhamou, Miguel Cebrián, Álvaro Franco, Sara Marzo, Jorge Alvés, Diego Cebrián, Javier Colás and Vera Nogueira for their collaboration on the longitudinal study at Calamocha, and Gustavo Gutiérrez Fernández for his support and contribution to the transversal study in Cantabria. We thank Jakub Horák for additional information about his study in the Czech Republic and Maria Fremlin and Al Vrezec for useful literature, and two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments to a previous version of this manuscript. Special thanks are due to Maria Fremlin for her keen comments and revision of the English.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Área de Biodiversidad y ConservaciónUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMóstolesSpain
  2. 2.Depto. Biología y GeologíaIES Valle del JilocaCalamochaSpain
  3. 3.SantanderSpain

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