First records of Opetiopalpus sabulosus Motschulsky, 1840 (Coleoptera, Cleridae) for the European Alps
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The genus Opetiopalpus from the family of checkered beetles (Coleoptera: Cleridae) is represented by 28 species worldwide, with 11 species found in the Palearctic and only four sparsely in Europe prior to 1998. One species, Opetiopalpus sabulosus Motschulsky, 1840, was recently found in Eastern Europe (i.e. Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Moldavia), with the most recent record in 2015 in Eastern Romania; no data are available for Central Europe. During a comprehensive sampling survey in 2016 in the dry inner-Alpine Vinschgau Valley (South Tyrol, Italy), one individual of O. sabulosus was recorded from soil core samples on an extensively managed steppe-like dry pasture at 2000 m a.s.l. This was the first record of O. sabulosus for the European Alps and Central Europe. Further intensive samplings were conducted in 2017 and 2018, in which one additional specimen at a dry pasture at 2500 m confirms the presence of this checkered beetle. Opetiopalpus sabulosus seems to have a cryptic lifestyle and therefore a low detection probability. The locations from where the species was recorded, all steppe-like dry grasslands that are part of the LTSER area “Val Mazia/Matschertal” within the LTER-Italia network, are characterized by low precipitation (730 mm at 2000 m a.s.l.) and traditional low input management (grazing cattle, sheep, and horses). Beside O. sabulosus, other rare and new species for South Tyrol and Italy were found at the sampling area. Therefore, our records underline the high biodiversity and the high nature conservational value of these steppe-like dry grasslands and the importance of long-term research to monitor such species.