Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 433–449 | Cite as

Identifying hotspots for rare species under climate change scenarios: improving saproxylic beetle conservation in Italy

  • Francesca Della RoccaEmail author
  • Giuseppe Bogliani
  • Frank Thomas Breiner
  • Pietro Milanesi
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


Our aim is to model rare species (with few occurrences) but modelling the distribution of species with few occurrence data and many predictor variables leads to model overfitting. Thus, we use the recently developed ensemble of small models, which showed high predictive accuracy in modelling the distribution of rare species to estimate the current and future distribution of 56 rare (and endangered) saproxylic beetle species. Thus, we stacked predictions from individual species distribution models to derive rare species richness. We used current and five future general circulation models and three representative concentration pathways to test whether the distribution of hotspots for rare species shifts due to climate change under different future scenarios. Moreover, we verified the representativeness of existing protected area systems under future climate conditions in Italy. Specifically, we identified potential hotspots for rare species richness through a cumulative relative frequency distribution function. The current surface covered by hotspots is 50.4% of the study area corresponding to 151,223 km2 (mainly from central to northern Italy). Currently, only 35,124 km2 of rare saproxylic hotspots are covered by protected areas (PAs) and they will decrease by about 2–72% in 2070 depending on the future scenarios considered. Our results confirmed that the shift of the distribution of hotspots for rare species might occur due to climate change under different future scenarios and that the existing PAs system would be inadequate for assuring the conservation of rare saproxylic beetles in Italy under current and future climate conditions.


Climate change Ensemble of small models Gap analysis Protected areas Saproxylic conservation Species distribution models Species richness 



We thank Prof. Francesco Sartori and Prof. Francesco Bracco, managers of the Riserva Naturale Integrale Bosco Siro Negri, who supported part of this research through funds from the Italian Ministry of the Environment and Protection of Land and Sea. We thank Kelsey Horvath for improving the English language. We are grateful to the Linda Xavier and three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions on the previous version of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1670_MOESM1_ESM.docx (699 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 699 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Della Rocca
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giuseppe Bogliani
    • 1
  • Frank Thomas Breiner
    • 2
    • 3
  • Pietro Milanesi
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUniversité de Lausanne, BiophoreLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Swiss Federal Research Institute WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  4. 4.Swiss Ornithological InstituteSempachSwitzerland

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