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Biodiversità associata agli alberi

Why are we interested in the biodiversity associated with trees?

Because all living beings, including humans, depend on biodiversity.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), biodiversity is the variety of living organisms and the ecological systems in which they live, including diversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels. Not only the variety of forms and structures of living beings, but also their diversity in terms of abundance, distribution and interactions between the different components of the system. 

 

Preserving biodiversity is therefore fundamental, because it allows ecosystems to function, and to provide ecosystem services to all species, including humans. Food, raw materials such as wood, filtered water and air, sequestration of carbon dioxide through carbon sinks such as forests and oceans, mitigation of natural disasters, pollination and fertilization of crops, substances for the development of medicines are just some of the ecosystem services vital to the human species.

Diversità degli Ecosistemi

Diversity of Ecosystems

Number and abundance of habitats, living communities and ecosystems within which different organisms live and evolve.

Diversity of Species

Diversity

of the Species

Species richness, measurable in terms of the number of the same species present in a given area, or the frequency of the species, i.e. their rarity or abundance in a territory or habitat.

Diversità genetica

Genetic diversity

Difference of genes within a given species; it therefore corresponds to the totality of the genetic heritage to which all the organisms that populate the Earth contribute.

Read more about the importance of biodiversity:

Why is biodiversity important? — Italian (isprambiente.gov.it) 

specie ospitate nei dendromicrohabitat

What is a dendromicrohabitat?

A dendromicrohabitat (or tree-related microhabitat, abbreviation TreM) is a characteristic of a tree that can be used by animals, fungi, bacteria, but also other plants for at least part of their life cycle. For example, a lesion in the bark or a crack in the wood can become shelters for hibernation or sheltered niches where to build the nest. They can also provide food for a species, or be chosen as breeding sites. Each dendromicrohabitat presents very particular conditions depending on its size and shape, but also on the basis of the position on the tree (at the base, on the trunk, on the branches, etc.), on the presence of surrounding dead wood, on the degree of illumination and many other variables.

 

Each associated species tends to prefer a specific type of dendromicrohabitat, depending on its needs.
Therefore, the greater the number of dendromicrohabitats in the tree, the greater the number of species it will be able to host. 

Click and find out which communities live and reproduce in dendromicrohabitats.

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What are the threats for the 
dendromicrohabitat?

In our cities, there is a widespread practice of felling mature and senescent trees, or completely removing their dead or rotting wood, for reasons of order and safety along the roads and in urban green areas. This happens for the lack of awareness of their importance to the species that inhabit them. In addition to urban environments, the increase in surfaces for intensive agriculture has also contributed to the deforestation of our territories, putting natural habitats at great risk and creating landscapes of monocultures strongly subjected to agricultural production and devoid of trees. The result is an environment poor in suitable habitats for many organisms, which cannot find appropriate places to live and reproduce, and may become extinct if this persists. In fact, the loss of habitats represents the first element of threat to biodiversity.

If you want to know more about biodiversity loss:

One million species are on the brink of extinction (reuters.com)

Disappearing plants jeopardize a green future (reuters.com)

specie ospitate dagli alberi habitat

How are dendromicrohabitats studied?

There are several techniques for measuring the biodiversity associated with trees. In general, dendromicrohabitats are small in size, so it can be complex to identify, for example, a cavity formed by small picids and located at 20 meters heigth. In order to be able to detect microhabitats, it is therefore possible to combine different techniques, from the traditional ones such as observation using binoculars and the manual sampling of the species that live in mature and senescent trees, to the most innovative techniques, including the use of aerial traps on various portions of the crown and the non-invasive analysis of eDNA (environmental DNA) from matrix such as microsoil.

When inspecting a habitat tree, subjective perception plays an important role in the accuracy of the microhabitat surveys. Ideally, the observations are conducted in pairs, although an experienced person can also make all the recordings individually. Each tree is examined from the collar to the crown, making a first circle around the tree to check the lower trunk and a second circle at a greater distance to review the top and crown. The accurate examination of a tree can take some time depending on the size, the number of microhabitats, the inclination of the slope and the degree of detail of the shot. 

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