Population Ecology

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 315–328 | Cite as

Larval assemblages of large saproxylic cerambycids in Iberian oak forests: wood quality and host preference shape resource partitioning

  • Luis M. Torres-Vila
  • Carlos Zugasti-Martínez
  • F. Javier Mendiola-Díaz
  • José M. De-Juan-Murillo
  • Álvaro Sánchez-González
  • Yolanda Conejo-Rodríguez
  • Francisco Ponce-Escudero
  • Félix Fernández-Moreno
Original article


Oak open woodlands are widespread in southwestern Iberia and present outstanding ecological, biodiversity and socio-economic values. Evergreen species (holm and cork oaks) are prevalent but deciduous oaks may be also locally important. Three large xylophagous cerambycids are associated to these oaks, Cerambyx welensii (Cw), C. cerdo (Cc) and Prinobius myardi (Pm). Like other saproxylic insects, these cerambycids are essential to the nutrient cycle, wood degradation and tree hollow formation, significantly contributing to biodiversity in oak forests. These cerambycids may also potentially colonise healthy living trees and become harmful or pest species. Factors driving their larval ecology are almost unknown, especially in oak forests harbouring mixed populations living in sympatry. Wood samples (n = 500 bolts) from 348 colonised trees were examined during 2011–2016 across the Extremadura region (41,634 km2). Bolts were measured, scored into five wood quality classes, dissected, and all target cerambycids were collected, measured, reared and taxonomically identified. We then determined species-specific prevalence, niche breadth, niche overlap, age structure and population density depending on wood quality, host preference, tree part, wood size, altitude and sun exposure. Wood quality and host preference were major factors segregating interspecific resource partitioning. Cw was prevalent on cork oak decayed wood, and Pm on holm oak degraded wood. Host tree part was involved in Cerambyx larval niche segregation, with Cw prevalent in the fork/branches and Cc in the trunk/base. Pm was never found inhabiting deciduous oaks. Our results may be useful to improve sustainable forest management practices in Iberian oak open woodlands.


Cerambyx Ecological succession Niche differentiation Oak decline Prinobius Sympatry 



The authors are grateful to all colleagues from several regional facilities who provided advice and logistic support in either cabinet, laboratory or fieldwork: Rafael López, Jesús Merino, José Manuel Fonseca, Pedro Bueno, Guadalupe Espárrago (SSV-Mérida), José J. Mareque, Ramón Álvarez, Antonio Vázquez, Lorenzo Castro, Fernando Naveiro (SSV-Cáceres), Juande del Pozo (SSV-Badajoz), Antonio J. Romero, Joaquín Cordero, José Fernández (SOGF), Rubén Trenado (SSIA-Mérida), Juan Gragera, Mercedes Paniagua (CICYTEX-La Orden), Isidro Rodríguez (CENSYRA-Badajoz), Paco Barrena, Eva Cruces, Pedro Collado, Paco del Pozo and Laura López (GPEX). We are indebted to the owners of dehesas and oak forests for their kind permission to conduct this study. We also thank Dr Pedro J. Cordero and an anonymous referee for their valuable comments and suggestions. This research was supported by the Servicio de Sanidad Vegetal (SSV, Junta de Extremadura) and benefited from funding of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF/FEDER) to the GR15112 research group.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10144_2017_592_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (336 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 336 KB)


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan KK 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis M. Torres-Vila
    • 1
  • Carlos Zugasti-Martínez
    • 2
  • F. Javier Mendiola-Díaz
    • 1
  • José M. De-Juan-Murillo
    • 2
  • Álvaro Sánchez-González
    • 1
  • Yolanda Conejo-Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Francisco Ponce-Escudero
    • 1
  • Félix Fernández-Moreno
    • 1
  1. 1.Servicio de Sanidad VegetalConsejería de Medio Ambiente y Rural PAyTMéridaSpain
  2. 2.Servicio de Sanidad VegetalConsejería de Medio Ambiente y Rural PAyTCáceresSpain

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