Beetles colour pattern as individual fingerprint: a valuable field-monitoring method!
The longicorn beetls Rosalia alpina is widely known for the beauty of its eliytral colour pattern. Together with the researchers of the MIPP project, a project I was working in in 2014, we demostrated that it is also so variable at the individual level that it can be used in capture-mark and recapture studies!
Indeed, the pattern of coloration of the elytrae is different for each individual. This characteristic can be used in an approach of photographic identification of individuals, as we described in a paper recently published on the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity. The use of photographic identification is common in many mammals, and in our case it has a two-fold advantage: first, it reduces the stress for beetles during the handling and marking procedure, second, it allow citizens to participate in beetles censuses by sending their photos to researchers! Have a look at Rosalia alpina variability and at our results here! http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/icad.12199/full