Forested urban areas provide many important ecosystem services and their preservation is considered of paramount importance. Although urban forest are known to host a high diversity of saproxylic beetles (i.e. those associated with dead wood), contributions dealing with the role of urban green spaces for their conservation are lacking. We investigated the importance of urban green spaces for saproxylic and non-saproxylic tenebrionid beetles in urban Rome. Based on species vulnerability scores we calculated two indices of area prioritisation, the Biodiversity Conservation Concern (BCC) and the Biodiversity Conservation Weight (BCW) for saproxylic and non-saproxylic species. Site area and forest surface correlated positively with saproxylic richness, whereas site isolation correlated negatively with non-saproxylic richness. BCC and BCW values for saproxylic species were positively correlated with distance from the city centre. For non-saproxylic species, BCW values were negatively correlated with distance from adjacent areas. These results suggest that saproxylic beetles require large areas covered by forest, but are not strongly influenced by isolation, which is important for non-saproxylic species. Non-saproxylic tenebrionids have limited dispersal capabilities, which explains their sensitivity to isolation, but are generally eurytopic species frequently found even in the city centre. By contrast, most saproxylic species are able to fly, but are mainly found in peripheral areas with large and relatively well preserved forest fragments. Maintaining and possibly enhancing connectivity among green spaces is important for the conservation of non-saproxylic species, whereas preserving large forest surfaces, especially in peripheral areas, is needed for the conservation of saproxylic species.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.