Research papers

How different management regimes of chestnut forests affect diversity and abundance of moth communities?


Chestnut forests were exploited from centuries for several uses and are still nowadays managed under coppice and orchard regimes. The different management practices created a typical mosaic-like structure in landscapes in which alternate different kind of habitat represented by young and mature coppices, old thinned coppices with the physiognomy of high forest,  and managed or abandoned orchards. The aim of our study was to evaluate how the different kind of management could affect the hosted biodiversity. We used nocturnal Lepidoptera as indicators, sampled in different woodlots along an altitudinal gradient in the chestnut forests of the Catena Costiera Mountains, southern Italy. We analyzed a published dataset concerning 15 stands subjected to different management regimes. We found that the main variables affecting moth communities distribution were (i) the elevation at which the stands were located and (ii) the time elapsed from the last human intervention. In fact, the stands subjected to recent intervention (young coppices and managed orchards) showed low values of moth richness and abundance, on the contrary the stands subjected to old interventions (mature and old coppices and abandoned orchards) registered a high number of species and individuals, mainly due to their greater structural complexity. Despite the quantitative differences, in woodlots recently managed were collected exclusive species that increased the diversity at a landscape level. Our results underlined the importance to maintain a mosaic-like landscape taking into account also the altitude when interventions are planned in order to improve the ecological sustainability of chestnut forest exploitation.


sustainable management; moth communities; biodiversity; Castanea sativa; Italy

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