Look who’s back! A visit from Rosalia alpina

Photo Credits: Daniele Di Santo

I have already mentioned the FAGUS project in a previous post (“The mess of sampling biodiversity”, where I described the results we obtained when analyzing the pre-intervention biodiversity data, as they are published in the paper (open access):

One taxon does not fit all: Herb-layer diversity and stand structural complexity are weak predictors of biodiversity in Fagus sylvatica forests

I just got a great news today from the staff of the LIFE+ project – FAGUS, Daniele Di Santo (Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park) and Sabina Burrascano (Sapienza, University of Rome). A pair of individuals of Rosalia alpina were found in one of the intervention areas of the project. Read below!

I had the fortune to work for the FAGUS project both during my PhD and during my first year of Post-Doc. It’s a LIFE+ project which focuses on two habitats of European priority interest according to the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) i.e., the habitat 9210* – Apennine beech forests with Taxus and Ilex, and the habitat 9220* – Apennine beech forests with Abies alba and beech forests with Abies nebrodensis. During the project, specifically designed silvicultural intervention were applied to six beech forest stands in two Italian national parks in the Apennines. The aim was to reconcile biodiversity conservation and economic interests of local stakeholders. The concrete actions were designed to enhance the structural heterogeneity of these forest stands, with the expectation that this will foster the biological diversity for several taxa, i.e. vascular plants, lichens, birds, saproxylic beetles and fungi.

While we wait for the post-intervention results, let’s celebrate the appearance of Rosalia alpina in the forest stand of Prati di Tivo (MAP) in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. Definitely another good reason to visit the park (in case it was still needed!)


Here’s the original notice, as it was published by the FAGUS’ staff:

“During a visit to one of the areas of intervention of the project near Prati di Tivo, we spotted two individuals of  Rosalia alpina.

It is a cerambycid beetle, typically inhabiting the beech forests of the Park that are in the older age phases. This species is easily distinguished by its pale blue color with three big velvety black spots on the elytrae (forewings). Rosalia alpina is related to the dead and decaying wood both in the larval and in the adult stage, especially dead wood lying on the ground, which is usually chosen as a breeding site.

Finding this species in the intervention areas of FAGUS is source of great satisfaction because it denotes the success of the concrete actions of the project: the implementation of measures that aim to increasing the structural heterogeneity of the forest through the creation of dead wood and habitat trees useful to foster the presence of birds and saproxylic organisms linked to this type of microhabitats just as the Rosalia alpina.

Furthermore, the Rosalia alpina is included in the Habitats Directive as a priority species, classified as vulnerable by the IUCN and included in Annex III of the Bern Convention. The main threat to this species is therefore represented by the destruction, loss and fragmentation of their habitat, the dead wood in the forest.”