Jean-Yves Rasplus

Centre de Biologie pour la Gestion des Populations, INRA, Montpellier, France

Jean-Yves Rasplus

I’m a taxonomist and an evolutionary biologist working mostly on insects. My research focuses on the taxonomy, ecology and phylogeny of parasitic wasps used in biological control programs (Chalcidoidea). One of my favourite groups of chalcids is the “fig wasps”, and since 20 years I have deeply investigated the fig – fig wasp mutualism, sampling figs all over the tropics and showing that figs and fig wasps may represent the first case of long-term (∼75myr) codiversification in an insect–plant association. As a phylogeneticist, I have investigated evolutionary histories of several groups of insects (few groups of Hemiptera, Coleoptera – especially Carabus – and Lepidoptera). I’m also involved in studies dealing with population genetics of pest insects (e.g. Megastigmus, Bruchids, Hemiptera) as well as endangered insects (ground beetles). I’m in charge of the molecular characterization of quarantine pests for Europe and I’m also deeply involved in the molecular identification of pests and their associated parasitoids. I have authored or co-authored about 150 refereed publications or edited book chapters and four books. For my contributions in evolutionary biology and systematics, I was awarded the Balachowsky price in Integrative Biology by the French Academy of Sciences in 2012. See my ResearchGate web page at

Reconstructing the biogeographical and evolutionary history of the genus Carabus, from multiple genes to pangenomic markers

Despite the high number of studies that have been conducted on Carabus, the global evolutionary history of the genus remains poorly understood. Several studies have recently proposed new phylogenetic hypotheses for the genus. These hypotheses based on molecular markers are mostly congruent and corroborate most morphological subgroups of Carabus. However, current morphological and molecular data appear unable to accurately infer the deep branchings within the genus. As previously highlighted by several studies, we observe conflicts between mitochondrial and nuclear topologies that may be explained by mitochondrial introgression. Dating the Carabus phylogeny appears challenging and different timescales have been estimated depending on calibrations, genes and methods used. I shall discuss these hypotheses and present different biogeographical scenario for the genus, including some suggesting that the present-day distribution of Carabus subgroups may be explained by isolation resulting from Eurasian forest fragmentation brought on by Miocene climate changes and by mountain orogenesis. Recent studies on two Carabus subgenera have demonstrated that restriction-site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) can generate useful data for phylogenomics of these clades. This novel method may thus contribute to improve our knowledge on the evolutionary history of Carabus subgenera. While opening new avenues for phylogeneticists, this method could open a Pandora’s box of analytical issues, especially in a group where introgressive hybridization is rampant. I shall discuss the results obtained within the subgenus Chrysocarabus and propose new biogeographical scenario and dating.

Achille Casale

Corso Raffaello 12, 10126 Torino, Italy

I was born on January 6th, in Ivrea (Torino), Italy, in1949; married, have one daughter. I got my degree in Biological Sciences at the Torino University. First, I worked as an assistant at the Institute of Entomology, Torino University, from 1972 to 1979. From 1980 to 1990, I worked as a curator at the Department of Entomology at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Torino, where I was appointed as Scientific Director. From 1990 to 2013, I worked as a Full Professor of Zoology at the University of Sassari, Italy, fulfilling the position of Director of the Department of Zoology and Evolutionary Genetics from 1993 to 2002. I taught Zoology, Animal Biology, Entomology and Conservation Biology and was active as member and/or president of PhD commissions in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and by the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.
I’ve retired since January 2014, but I’m still fully active as a member of the National Italian Academy of Entomology, a member of the Council and legal responsible of the publications of the Italian Entomological Society, President of the Association of Naturalists of Piedmont (ANP), co-editor of the journal ZooKeys, member of editorial boards of the journal Subterranean Biology and in other duties.
I dedicated most of my scientific activities to the following topics: 1. Biology, ethology, morphology of insects; 2. Taxonomy, biogeography, phylogeny, ecology of Coleoptera, Carabidae and Cholevidae; 3. Studies on extreme habitats (caves and high mountains); 4. Museums; 5. Nature conservation. For this, I attended many national and international congresses (in several cases as invited speaker), and organised sampling investigations in the field, in co-operations with local Institutions, in all Italian regions, in most European countries, and in Turkey, Iran, Tuni­sia, Algeria, Morocco, Canada, USA, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador (Galapagos included), Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar and South Africa.
Main projects in progress is: R.A.S. (Sardinia Region) Project CRP-60215 (2012) “Conservation and valorisation of the Sardinian caves: biodiversity and social, cultural and economic rules”.
I’m author or co-author of more than 260 publications in national and international journals (several available in web). Beside these, some monographic contributions have to be recalled, as the 1st volume (with M. Sturani and A. Vigna Taglianti) on Carabidae for the series “Fauna d’Italia” (1982), a synthesis of the world Carabidae Trechinae (1982) with R. Laneyrie in Annales de Biospéologie, and a Revision of Sphodrina (1988, Monografie Museo reg. Scienze nat. Torino, V, 1024 pp.). Furthermore, I’m co-editor and author of the book “The genus Carabus in Europe. A Synthesis” (2003, Pensoft publisher), and the author of some other books edited by Springer, Academic Press and Pensoft.

Many of my contributions deal with subterranean carabids of the world, Biospeleology, and Nature conservation. In co-operation with Croatian biospeleologists, I’ve described some peculiar, highly specialized genera and species of Carabidae and Cholevidae from Croatian caves.

Past, present and future knowledge of subterranean carabid beetles in the Dinaric chain

The Dinaric Alps or Dinarides are a mountain chain that fringes the Eastern side of the Adriatic sea, from the south-eastern (Julian) Alps in the NW to the Albanides/Hellenides in the SE, extended for 645 kilometres, with their highest peak in Prokletije Mt. (2,694 m) at the border of eastern Montenegro and northern Albania. Dinarides represent the north-eastern part of the Apulian continental plate, which was separated from Africa and Europe during most of the Mesozoic, and became a part of the alpine orogenetic system by the closure of Tethyan oceanic realms and associated basins in the period from Late Jurassic to the Quaternary.

They are mostly formed by Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks of dolomite, limestone, sand and conglomerates. This Mesozoic chain is a peculiar area of the Balkan peninsula, characterized by the deep erosion of limestone by the water. Deep valleys, big caves, and the typical features of the “Karst” are widely represented everywhere. The Quaternary ice ages – a part some of the highest peaks of the chain – only marginally influenced Dinarides, and there is a little evidence of extensive glaciation. Conversely, some coastal massifs along the eastern Adriatic coast are now characterized by etesian, maritime-subtropical climate: Orjen represents one of the rainiest area of Europe, with average annual precipitations exceeding 5000 mm (with a record of 8.063 mm in 1938), comparable to those of tropical rain forests.

For this very reason, this area as a whole represents a very important Pleistocene refugium and a centre of speciation for many living organisms. Furthermore, it is today recognized as one of the main hotspots of subterranean biodiversity in the world. Many zoological groups are represented in subterranean environment, both invertebrates (sponges, mollusks, Arthropoda) and vertebrates (the famous olm or “human-fish” Proteus anguinus Laurenti, 1768, the first hypogean species officially described). Not casually it is recognized that Biospeleology, the science of subterranean life, was traditionally born with the discoveries in the Postojna caves (Adelsberger grotte, Postojnska jama) of the cholevid beetle Leptodirus hochenwarti Schmidt, 1832 and the carabid beetle Anophthalmus schmidtii Sturm, 1844.
It is well known that Caraboidea are one of the most diverse groups of Coleoptera, with more than 35,000 species described so far in the world. With Coleoptera Cholevidae, they are the group of insects more represented in both superficial and deep subterranean environment. A few only lineages of them, however, were able to colonize the hypogean habitat: in particular, the tribes Ozaenini, Crepidogastrini, Nebriini, Scaritini, Promecognathini, Trechini, Bembidiini, Psydrini, Pterostichini, Harpalini, Platynini, Sphodrini, Perigonini, Lebiini, Cyclosomini, Zuphiini. Nebriini, Scaritini, Trechini, Bembidiini, Pterostichini and Sphodrini are widely represented in the subterranean Dinaric fauna, with both hypogeophilous and troglobiont taxa. Some lineages in particular are noticeable: Scaritini with the endemic specialized genus and species Spelaeodytes mirabilis L. Miller, 1863, Trechini with many endemic genera and species at different degrees of specialization to the subterranean habitat (from microphthalmous and anophthalmous to aphaenopsian level), Bembidiini with the subtribe Lovriciina recently described, Pterostichini with some species of the genus Speluncarius, Sphodrini with some Laemostenus of the subgenus Antisphodrus.

Recent molecular phylogenies showed close relationships of subterranean Dinaric Trechini lineages with eastern Alpine taxa. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that the impressive, recent increasing of discoveries of new genera and species in that area should be related to phenomena of global or local climatic changes.

These are examples of scientific questions that need future, careful investigations.

Pietro Brandmayr

Dipartimento DiBEST (Biologia, Ecologia e Scienze della Terra), Università della Calabria, 87036 RENDE – Italy

pietroBirth date: May 19, 1949, Trieste. As student in Trieste I graduated with a thesis on the ground beetle communities of some habitats of the Slovene coastal mountains in Northern Istria, beginning on this way to describe and quantify the structure of species assemblages, looking mainly at nature conservation. At the same time I was interested in the study of species traits and behaviour of Carabids, and this other research line was rich of novelties, especially because my wife Tullia Zetto was patiently working with me. The discovery of brood care in Ditomine ground beetles and the pioneer studies on granivory of larval ground beetles belong to the first phase of our scientific work, that continues today in the attempt to find relationships between morphofunctional aspects of carabid larvae, their behaviour and environmental constraints. Since 1987, as full Professor of Zoology at the University of Calabria, I taught Zoology, Ecology, Zoogeography, Evolutionary Zoology, E.I.A. procedures and other topics for Biologists and Natural Science students, and this activity is still continuing. Despite some Academic charges (President of the Campus of the University for sixteen years), as President of the Committee for Faunal Conservation of the “Unione Zoologica Italiana” I coordinated the Natura 2000 Italian Network for the Ministry for Environment and Territory in the years 1994-1999 (Bioitaly Project). In the last years, thanks several keen co-workers I was able to deepen my experience in: global change and animal communities in the Mediterranean mountains – Glacier retreat and fauna in the Alps – Mapping and modelling of faunal biodiversity. – Management of fauna in protected areas – Predatory and antipredatory strategies of Carabid beetles – Forest management and saproxylic beetles.

Climate change and its impact on epigean and hypogean carabid beetles

The presentation summarizes about 10 years research on the impact of climate change on ground beetle assemblages in Italy and on hypogean species living in Europe. The epigean research focuses on the comparison between pit-fall year samples collected about 30 years ago in forest and grassland sites of the Southern Appennine and of the Dolomites (Eastern Alps). In the first area (Pollino National Park) the changes 1977/2004 showed a minor impact in mature beech forests but a stronger one in a mountain pasture, where the three most abundant species have been substituted by thermos-xerophilic elements, testifying for an uphill shift of 300/400 meters.

In the Dolomites the research concerns an altitudinal habitat sequence from subalpine spruce forest to alpine grassland in a low disturbance area of the southeastern Dolomites in Italy, the Paneveggio Regional Park. We compared the ground beetle (Carabidae) populations sampled in 1980 in six stands below and above the treeline (1650–2250 m a.s.l.) with those sampled in the same sites almost 30 years later (2008/9). Quantitative data (species richness and abundance) have been compared by means of several diversity indexes and with a new index, the Index of Rank- abundance Change (IRC). Our work shows that species richness and abundance have changed after almost 30 years as a consequence of local extinctions, uphill increment of abundance and uphill shift of distribution range. The overall species number dropped from 36 to 27, while in the sites above the treeline, species richness and abundance changed more than in the forest sites. Two microtherm characteristic species of the pioneer cushion grass mats, Nebria germari and Trechus dolomitanus, became extinct or showed strong abundance reduction. In Nardetum pastures, several hygrophilic species disappeared, and xerophilic zoophytophagous elements raised their population density. In forest ecosystems, the precipitation reduction caused deep soil texture and watering changes, driving a transformation from Sphagnum-rich (peaty) to humus-rich soil, and as a consequence, soil invertebrate biomass strongly increased and thermophilic carabids enriched the species structure. In three decades, Carabid assemblages changed consistently with the hypothesis that climate change is one of the main factors triggering natural environment modifications. Furthermore, the level of human disturbance could enhance the sensitivity of mountain ecosystems to climate change.

Despite the impressive research effort performed on surface living animals and plants, little is known about the impact on the relict lineages of cave animals. Ground beetles show a wide variety of evolutionary pathways, from soil-surface (epigean) predatory habits to life in caves and in other subterranean (hypogean) compartments. We reconstructed an unprecedented set of species/time accumulation curves of the largest carabid genera in Europe, selected by their degree of ‘underground’ adaptation, from true epigean predators to eyeless highly specialized hypogean beetles. The data show that in recent periods an unexpectedly large number of new cave species were found lying in well established European hotspots; the first peak of new species, especially in the most evolved underground taxa, occurred in the 1920–30s and a second burst after the 70s. Temperature data show large warming rates in both periods, suggesting that the temperature increase in the past century might have induced cave species to expand their habitats into large well-aired cavities and superficial underground compartments, where they can be easily sampled. An alternative hypothesis, based on increased sampling intensity, is less supported by available datasets.