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(Lucanus cervus)

La nueva dirección de este proyecto es / The new web of this project is:


The Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus, is the biggest beetle in Europe. Males have huge mandibles -from which the species takes its common name-, utilised in the struggles for the females. While the adult life does not exceed of two months, larvae develop during several years within decaying wood. This long period of larval development makes this species potentially vulnerable to forestry practices as the removal of fallen, dead trees. Desaparition of its natural habitat, the deciduous forest, is also a potential threat to the Stag beetle. Currently, this beetle is protected by several international laws subscribed by Spain (Appendix III of Bern Convention and Appendix II of the Habitat Directive of the EU), as well as other xylophagous beetles.

For additional information on the biology of the Stag beetle, you can have a look to our paper "Biology of the Stag beetle: about of the few things that are known and the lot of things that should be known" originally published in Boletín de la S.E.A. and reproduced here with permission. In this paper, we review most of the literature currently available on the natural history of the species. You can also visit some other homepages in the Net, devoted to the Stag beetle.


The core of the team consist of:

Marcos Méndez.- 30 years old, spanish, biologist, PhD. Currently is working as a post-doc researcher at the Dept. of Ecological Botany (Uppsala University, Sweden). He is the responsable for the international contacts. He also looks for bibliography concerning ecology and conservation of insects.

César Álvarez.- 31 years old, spanish, biologist (ornithologist). He is the responsible for the national contacts, and for gathering information for our database about the status of the species in Spain. In addition, he takes data about mortality of the Stag beetle in roads.

Manuel Martínez.- 30 years old, spanish, biologist. He is the responsable for our project of long-term monitoring of field populations of Stag beetle.

Ángel Quirós.- 26 years old, spanish, biologist. He is our contact person with the National Museum of Natural History in Madrid.

In addition, there is a "floating team" of collaborators of very different kind, spread all over the Iberian Peninsula: friends, conservationist groups, amateur entomologists, entomological societies, professional entomologists in several Universities, undergraduate and PhD students in several Universities. We also keep international contacts, in order to be aware of the status of the Stag beetle in Europe and to know the ongoing efforts allocated to its conservation.


Our objective is to get and to provide reliable information about the ecology and biology of the Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus (L.) and the related species Pseudolucanus barbarossa Fuesslins (an endemic of the Iberian Peninsula and Maroc), in order to make possible their conservation. We consider that the study of these two species is important for the following reasons:

1.- The successsful conservation of threatened species is dependent on a good knowledge of their biology. Despite the popularity of the Stag beetle and its appearance in a lot of divulgative books, its biology is in fact poorly known.

2.- The Stag beetle can act as a "flag" or "umbrella" species for: (a) the protection of other less known or appreciated saproxylophagous (i.e. dependent on decaying wood) insects, as Rosalia alpina or others, and (b) the conservation of habitats as the autoctonous deciduous woodlands.

3.- It can help to get a more rational forestry policy.

4.- Endemics as Pseudolucanus barbarossa, potentially affected by the same threats as other more popular or spread species, are more likely missed by international conservation policies.

As amateurs, our objectives are simple but we try to work as seriously as we can. We also try to keep ourselves within the legality, and every year we apply our regional goverment for a permission to work with Lucanus cervus, because its protected status. We are not interested in the exchange of beetles. We do not want to increase our own curriculum vitae by using the information kindly provided for our collaborators. Thus, whenever we use information provided by collaborators, we always try to sign the papers as Project "Stag beetle" and not using our names.


1.- Our main activity is to get a distribution map of Lucanus cervus and Pseudolucanus barbarossa in Spain. We have created a database where we include all the information about distribution of both species taken from faunistical papers, entomological collections at Universities and Museums, private collections and personal communications by our collaborators.

2.- Long-term monitoring of the populations of Lucanus cervus in our study area (Northern Spain) from 1993. We intend to know the interanual fluctuations in abundance of this beetle. The trend until now is shown in Fig. 1

3.- Study of mortality in roads of the Stag beetle, in our study area, from 1991. This is a way of knowing the abundance of the species and its variation between sites and between years. It also provide us with a lot of dead imagoes on we take data about biometry, sexual dimorphism, sex ratio and phenology.

4.- Rearing of larvae of Lucanus cervus, as a way to increase the knowledge on the larval biology of the species (number, duration and survival of instars). This could also be useful for reintroduction of the species. We have also tried to breed this species in captivity, in order to learn more about the reproductive behaviour and female fecundity. These activities are still tentative.

5.- Bibliographic review about the biology of Stag beetle.

6.- We are preparing a "dossier" about the situation of Stag beetle in Europe.


1.- Publications:

Álvarez Laó, C. M.; Álvarez Laó, D. J. (1995). Análisis de la mortalidad de ciervos volantes Lucanus cervus en carreteras asturianas. Boletín de Ciencias Naturales del R.I.D.E.A. 43: 15-25.

Proyecto Ciervo Volante (1996). Biología del Ciervo Volante: de lo poco conocido y lo mucho por conocer. Boletin de la S.E.A. 15: 19-23.

2.- Attendance of XIV Jornadas Ibéricas de Entomología (Cuenca, Spain) with the oral communication: "Sexual dimorphism in size and poecilandry in Lucanus cervus (Coleoptera)".

3.- Writing of the "Dossier about the situation of Lucanus cervus in Spain" in september 1996, for the Spanish asociation of Entomology, within a project devoted to map all the spanish species of Arthropoda included in the Habitat Directive of the EU.

4.- We are considered "serious" people by the professional entomologists we have contacted. We keep good relations with most of them.

6. HOW TO COLLABORATE WITH OUR PROJECT (from outside the Iberian Peninsula)

We develop all our activities in Spain. This is why we have not translated to english the section "How to collaborate...". However, foreign people can help us in the following ways:

1.- By giving us your oppinion about our Project, pointing us to interesting goals to study, sending us information about other similar projects in other countries, or sending us bibligraphy concerning the Stag beetle or insect conservation.

2.- Checking our horrible english and helping us to correct our mistakes in this page.

3.- Helping us to collect information about the status of the Stag beetle in other european countries. We intend to prepare a "dossier" about the general situation of this species in Europe, but it is difficult to find the right bibliography.


To request our publications or sending us data about Lucanus cervus or Pseudolucanus barbarossa, send a letter to the following address:

APTDO. 385

For general information and collaborations concerning the status in other countries, aside Spain, e-mail Marcos Méndez or send a letter to the following address:

Depto. Biología de Organismos y Sistemas (Ecología)
Universidad de Oviedo
C/ Catedrático Rodrigo Uría s/n
E-33071 Oviedo - España
Tfno: 98-5104831 (Facultad)/ 98-5576441 (casa)

Thank you in advance for your kind collaboration.