Fireflies and land use in an urban landscape: the case of Luciola italica L. (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) in the city of Turin
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- Picchi, M.S., Avolio, L., Azzani, L. et al. J Insect Conserv (2013) 17: 797. doi:10.1007/s10841-013-9562-z
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Research was carried out in the city of Turin (Northern Italy) in order to assess the suitability of the urban environment for fireflies.The study started in 2007 with an artistic and scientific project promoted by Parco Arte Vivente (PAV—Park of living art). Citizens joining the project recorded 18 areas where they could observe fireflies, which were identified as Luciola italica L. (Coleoptera Lampyridae). All of the 18 areas recorded by citizens were then visited during the summer of 2009 and the abundance of L. italica was estimated using transects. In 12 sites the presence of the firefly was confirmed. The habitat structures of L. italica were woods interspersed with clearings in the urban districts in the hills, and parks along rivers in the lower and more populated part of the city. In sites where fireflies were observed, the level of illuminance measured was significantly lower than in areas where L. italica was absent. The analysis of the landscape around the study areas showed a negative correlation between the extent of urbanization and fireflies abundance. Survival of L. italica populations in the urban area of Turin is influenced by the extent of green areas and the level of artificial illumination. Parks lying among rivers preserve a level of darkness suitable for fireflies and are connected by woody strips growing along the banks of rivers, that probably function as ecological corridors.