Invertebrates

There is a lot to learn about these little creatures

APAM Archive

Although greater attention is paid to the largest and most active species, such as mammals or birds, in reality the Earth belongs to invertebrates, both because there are countless species present and an incalculable number of individuals. Their ecological role is fundamental in all terrestrial environments, so much so that without invertebrates life on our planet would not be as we know it.

The invertebrate fauna of the Maritime Alps Park is no exception to these rules. Since the conservation of biodiversity is now recognised as an indispensable strategy to tackle the ongoing climate change, the two Parks, Mercantour and Alpi Marittime have decided to face a major challenge: to census all the biological species present on their territories, through the involvement of many European scientists and research groups, coordinated by the EDIT Institute. The first results can already be consulted on the marittimemercantour.eu portal. The research carried out identified over 1353 invertebrates, not counting all those already surveyed in previous studies.

The class of Insects is among the most significant in the animal world, although it is very often little known. In the Park, in-depth studies have only been made for some groups such as Lepidoptera, while partial studies have been carried out on Hymenoptera, in particular ants, Coleoptera (Carabidae, Cerambicidae, and Scarabaeidae), and aquatic insects (Plecoptera, Ephemeroptera, Diptera, Trichoptera).

The variety of species present confirms once again the importance of this area as a site of high biodiversity: the low mobility of many species, the presence of many microhabitats, the permeation of continental and Mediterranean climates mean that every new research leads to the discovery of species never described or locally endemic species.

Just to give some figures, there are more than 1000 species of Lepidoptera identified in the area, including some very rare species, such as the large Papilio alexanor and Parnassius phoebus, the rare Callimorpha quadripunctaria, the small butterfly Eudarcia palanfreella/, first described in 2001. One could go on almost indefinitely.

Interesting are the presences of rare beetles such as the Carabus solieri, a species indicating a fair complexity of the forest environments in which it lives, or Haptoderus nicaensis, a very interesting species because it is very localized.

It is surprising to discover slave-maker ants, Polyergus rufescens living in these valleys. They induce another species to work for the dominant colony. Among the other Arthropods is a representative of the group of wolf spiders, i.e. running land spiders: Vesubia jugorum is an endemic species restricted to the southwestern Alps, where it lives among the rocks of the crystalline massif.

Download the Check list of the spiders of the Maritime Alps Park and the adjacent SCIs.
The study was published (2015) on Zoosystema by Marco ISAIA, Mauro PASCHETTA, Alberto CHIARLE of the Lab. of Ecology - Earth Ecosystems, Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Turin.