The Romanian Longicorn beetle project, supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund through the Association for Biodiversity Conservation, is the first study in Romania to evaluate the distribution and abundance of saproxylic beetles in traditionally-maintained landscapes, ultimately providing conservation and management guidelines for endangered, threatened, and data deficient longicorn beetles. To survey longicorn beetles, we are using pheromones combined with flight intercept traps in the Iron Gates Natural Park in southwest Romania. Along with ecological information on longicorn community composition, species richness, and abundance, the information gathered over the next two summers (2015 and 2016) will be used to evaluate current forest management practices and promote public education on the ecological role of longicorn beetles within the Park and Southwestern Carpathians. Our target groups include natural park and forest department staff, local communities, and land managers. To reach the project goal and objectives, we are also engaging with Romanian academics (faculty and students at University of Bucharest, Faculties of Geography and Biology), the National Natural History Museum Grigore Antipa, as well as agencies (U.S. Department of Agriculture), pheromone industry (Synergy Semiochemical Corp.), outreach (Invisible Nature) and higher education institutions in the U.S. (State University of New York Environmental Science and Forestry and Ohio University).
The Longicorn Beetles:
What is a longicorn beetle? A longicorn beetle, or long horned beetle, (Family Cerambycidae) is a species of beetle typically with (as you might have already guessed) very long antenna. Often, the antenna are one and a half times the size of their body. There are over 20,000 of these beetles described worldwide. The larva (or immature stage) of the beetle can often be found boring through wood where they develop and pupate. Many species in this family are considered pests because of the damage they cause to lumber (nobody wants wood with holes when building a house). But these beetles are just doing their job, recycling wood, which is an important ecosystem service! As nature's recyclers, longicorn beetles are the ideal biological indicator for forest health, and can be used as conservation surrogates for other forest species of conservation concern. It's because they are such good recyclers of trees that the line between "damage' and "ecosystem service" can be gray, causing the conservation of these beetles to be tricky.
The Iron Gates Natural Park (IGNP):
The IGNP is the largest protected area in Romania covering 1156 km2. The park is located in Southwestern Romania on the left side of the Danube river, and stretches from Socol (to the West) to Drobeta Turnu-Severin (to the East). On the opposite side of the Danube river, bordering Serbia, is the Djerdap National Park, which protects similar ecosystems. The IGNP is a sub-Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot in Europe, and management places emphasis on nature conservation and interactions with humans through traditional land use practices. The forests are mixed (maple, oak, linden, beech, spruce) and harbor a variety of data deficient, vulnerable, threatened, and endangered beetles.
For more details about the Romanian Longicorn Project, the traditionally managed landscapes we are working in, the people that live on and maintain the land, and the adventures we are having throughout the project, please visit the "RO Beetle Project" at www.bekkabrodie.com.
Project 152510395 location - Romania, Europe