iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Exposure elevation and forest structure predict the abundance of saproxylic beetles’ communities in mountain managed beech forests

Francesco Parisi (1-2), Adriano Mazziotta (3), Elia Vangi (4-5), Roberto Tognetti (6), Davide Travaglini (4), Marco Marchetti (1), Giovanni D’Amico (4-7), Saverio Francini (4-8), Costanza Borghi (4), Gherardo Chirici (4-8)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 155-164 (2023)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor4264-016
Published: Jun 08, 2023 - Copyright © 2023 SISEF

Research Articles

In the managed beech forests of Central Italy (Molise), the diversity of saproxylic species is potentially under threat by intensive management. To evaluate the impact of forestry on the biodiversity of these ecosystems, we analyzed the relationship between abundance of saproxylic beetles and (i) forest stand exposure and elevation, (ii) deadwood availability (coarse woody debris - CWD - and stumps), (iii) abundance of microhabitats. Four sampling sectors with different altitudes and exposure were identified in a 400-ha study area in the Appenine mountains. Fifteen circular plots (13 m radius) were established in each sector where deadwood and microhabitats were surveyed and saproxylic beetles sampled. We fitted joint species distribution models to quantify the relationship between forest attributes and saproxylic species’ abundance, including the interactions with their family and trophic category. Overall, 2334 specimens belonging to 64 species of saproxylic beetles were collected. Both abundance and species richness were higher in the sectors with high elevation (respectively, 55% and 44%) and South exposure (respectively, 28% and 44%). Average deadwood volumes were low (stumps: 7.6 m3 ha-1; CWD: 0.3 m3 ha-1; snags: 0.4 m3 ha-1), and insect galleries were the most abundant microhabitat (380 records over a total of 434). The most important variables affecting abundance were stump characteristics (model deviance = 81.2), elevation (deviance = 64.7), and CWD characteristics (deviance = 58.0). Our results show that topographical variables and forest structure jointly affect the abundance patterns of saproxylic beetle communities in managed beech forests. These ecological interactions imply that management has different impacts on the saproxylic communities in different topographic conditions. To acknowledge this complexity we advocate for a landscape-level forest management supporting the local beetle diversity maintaining a mosaic of semi-natural forest characteristics in different topographic contexts. The ecological value of the forest landscape will be further enhanced by the application of closer-to-nature management interventions based on deadwood retention, microhabitat creation and tree retention, in line with the guidelines of the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030.


Deadwood, Forest Heterogeneity, Fourth-corner Problem, Italy, Joint Species Distribution Models, Microhabitats, Trophic Categories

Authors’ address

Francesco Parisi 0000-0002-1914-7331
Marco Marchetti 0000-0002-5275-5769
Dipartimento di Bioscienze e Territorio, Università degli Studi del Molise, c.da Fonte Lappone, 86090 Pesche (IS), Italy
Francesco Parisi 0000-0002-1914-7331
NBFC, National Biodiversity Future Center, 90133 Palermo (Italy)
Adriano Mazziotta 0000-0003-2088-3798
Natural Resources Institute Finland - Luke, Helsinki (Finland)
Elia Vangi 0000-0002-9772-2258
Davide Travaglini 0000-0003-0706-2653
Giovanni D’Amico 0000-0002-2341-3268
Saverio Francini 0000-0001-6991-0289
Costanza Borghi 0000-0002-5334-7548
Gherardo Chirici 0000-0002-0669-5726
geoLAB - Laboratorio di Geomatica Forestale, Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Agrarie, Alimentari, Ambientali e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Firenze, v. San Bonaventura 13, 50145 Firenze (Italy)
Elia Vangi 0000-0002-9772-2258
National Research Council of Italy, Institute for Agriculture and Forestry Systems in the Mediterranean - ISAFOM, 06128, Perugia (Italy)
Roberto Tognetti 0000-0002-7771-6176
Dipartimento Agricoltura, Ambiente e Alimenti, Università degli Studi del Molise, v. De Sanctis, 86100 Campobasso (Italy)
Giovanni D’Amico 0000-0002-2341-3268
CREA Research Centre for Forestry and Wood, 52100 Arezzo (Italy)
Saverio Francini 0000-0001-6991-0289
Gherardo Chirici 0000-0002-0669-5726
Fondazione per il Futuro delle Città, Firenze (Italy).

Corresponding author


Parisi F, Mazziotta A, Vangi E, Tognetti R, Travaglini D, Marchetti M, D’Amico G, Francini S, Borghi C, Chirici G (2023). Exposure elevation and forest structure predict the abundance of saproxylic beetles’ communities in mountain managed beech forests. iForest 16: 155-164. - doi: 10.3832/ifor4264-016

Academic Editor

Marco Borghetti

Paper history

Received: Nov 14, 2022
Accepted: Mar 14, 2023

First online: Jun 08, 2023
Publication Date: Jun 30, 2023
Publication Time: 2.87 months

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