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Habitat selection by the highly endangered long-horned beetle Rosalia alpina in Southern Europe: a multiple spatial scale assessment

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Despite the popularity of the saproxylic cerambycid Rosalia alpina as a flagship species, its ecology is still poorly know, especially in the southern part of its range. Detailed information on its habitat preferences is needed to plan appropriate management. We set our multiple spatial scale assessment of habitat preferences in a beech forest of central Italy whose landscape, featuring both unmanaged forest and two types of grazed open forest, allowed us to look at the influence of different land uses. Preferred trees occurred in open sites, and those close to tall undergrowth were avoided. A range of moribund or dead trees were used: those preferred had a lower percentage canopy closure, significantly thicker bark, and were more sun-exposed, than the average. Logistic regression showed that the most important variables for selection were distance from nearest occupied tree, bark thickness, undergrowth height and irradiation. Occurrence likelihood augmented as the distance from nearest other occupied tree increased. Despite being mostly unmanaged, forest was avoided, whereas open forest (with trees pruned by ‘shredding’) was used more than expected. Although intensive forestry limits the availability of dead wood, closed forest may be unsuitable when shadowing useful substrate. The disappearance of traditional forms of forest management as shredding and moderate cattle grazing may lead to woody vegetation expansion and habitat closure eventually threatening the persistence of R. alpina. The return to traditional habitat management would be beneficial to R. alpina, an issue that conservation plans should carefully take it into account.

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We gratefully acknowledge funding received from the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, and also thank its scientific staff (Cinzia Sulli and Roberta Latini), Alessandro Biscaccianti, Lorenzo Vacca and the other park rangers, who provided useful information on the occurrence of Rosalia alpina. Nancy Jennings and Mark Weir made useful comments and kindly improved the language of a previous ms draft.

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Correspondence to Danilo Russo.

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Russo, D., Cistrone, L. & Garonna, A.P. Habitat selection by the highly endangered long-horned beetle Rosalia alpina in Southern Europe: a multiple spatial scale assessment. J Insect Conserv 15, 685–693 (2011).

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