Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 2799–2821 | Cite as

The impact of forest ski-pistes on diversity of ground-dwelling arthropods and small mammals in the Alps

  • Matteo Negro
  • Marco Isaia
  • Claudia Palestrini
  • Antonio Rolando
Original Paper


Forest clearing for winter sport activities is the major force driving loss and fragmentation of the alpine forests. The establishment of ski-pistes involves impacts on every ecosystem component. To assess the extent of this threat we studied ground-dwelling arthropods (namely ground beetles and spiders) and small mammals (shrews and voles) at two ski resorts in north-western Italian Alps by pitfall trapping. Diversity parameters (mean abundance, species richness and Shannon index) of spiders and macropterous carabids increased from forest interior to open habitats (i.e., ski-piste or pasture), whereas parameters of brachypterous carabids significantly decreased from forest interior to open habitats. Diversity parameters of macropterous ground beetles were higher on pastures than on ski-pistes. Small mammals were virtually absent from ski-pistes. Observed frequencies in the three adjacent habitats were significantly different from expected ones for the bank vole Myodes glareolus and the pygmy shrew Sorex minutus. Generalized linear models showed that abundance, species richness and diversity of spiders and macropterous carabids of ski-pistes were best modelled by combination of factors, including grass cover and width of the ski-piste. Indicator Species Analysis showed that species that significantly preferred ski-pistes were less than those preferring pastures, and species which were exclusive of ski-pistes were very few. To retain arthropod ground-dwelling fauna of open habitats environmentally friendly ways of constructing pistes should be developed. After tree clearing, only the roughest ground surfaces should be levelled, in order to preserve as much natural vegetation as possible. Where necessary, ski-pistes should be restored through the recovery of local vegetation.


Alpine forests Diversity Ground beetles Ski-pistes Spiders Bank vole Pygmy shrew 



We are sincerely grateful to Achille Casale and Gianni Allegro, who checked ground beetle identification and to Sandro Bertolino, who supervised small mammal identification. Matteo Negro was funded by a Turin University fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matteo Negro
    • 1
  • Marco Isaia
    • 1
  • Claudia Palestrini
    • 1
  • Antonio Rolando
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell’UomoUniversità degli Studi di TorinoTurinItaly

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