One aim of the MIPP Project (http://www.lifemipp.eu) was to develop non-invasive monitoring
methods for selected saproxylic beetles. In this paper, a method is proposed for monitoring
the larvae of Osmoderma eremita in their natural habitat (i.e. hollow trees), using
a conservation detection dog (CDD). Wood mould sampling (WMS), the standard method
to detect hermit beetles and other saproxylic insects inside tree hollows, is time-consuming
and exposes the target species and the whole saproxylic communities to some risks.
In contrast, CDDs pose no risk to the species living inside trees while, at the same
time, offer a powerful tool for surveying the insects. In this paper, the methods
applied to train the dog are presented, together with the results for accuracy (the
overall proportion of correct indications), sensitivity (the proportion of correct
positive indications) and specificity (the proportion of correct negative indications)
obtained once the CDD had been fully trained. Results are presented for nitrocellulose
filters with the odour of the target species, for larvae living inside hollow trees,
for frass and for the remains of adults. A comparison of the efficiency between CDD
and WMS showed that employing the dog was much less time-consuming than WMS.
The literature on training CDDs for nature conservation tasks, with particular reference
to cases involving Coleoptera, was also reviewed.