Biodiversity Data Journal : Data Paper (Biosciences)
Data Paper (Biosciences)
Sixty years of work on Italy’s Orthopteroids biodiversity, the big data of Galvagni collection
expand article infoFilippo Maria Maria Buzzetti, Gionata Stancher, Federico Marangoni
‡ Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto, Rovereto, Italy
Open Access



Historical natural history collections are very important for the study of nature and environmental protection of the environment, these being the depository of essential information. The Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto holds two major Orthopteroid insect collections that make this Museum a landmark on Italian and Mediterranean Orthoptera diversity. Databasing the Galvagni Collection allows considerations on geographic and taxonomic coverage by specialist researchers.

New information

Databasing of the Galvagni Collection makes possible considerations on the late specialist research, geographic and taxonomic coverage.


Natural Science Museum, Italy, entomology collection, biodiversity


The Fondazione Museo Civico of Rovereto (FMCR) is an Italian civic museum founded in 1851. The Museum contains many collections ranging from natural sciences and archaeology to art, but the entomological, botanical and archaeological collections are of greater relevance. In fact, these count more than 286,980 exhibits and are the data source of many scientific publications. The first collections date back to the years of the Museum foundation, but unfortunately, part of these were lost during World War I. The collections of the FMCR have grown during nearly 200 years of the foundation , so that the number of collections and exhibits, curated in the Museum, is continuously increasing. Currently, at the FMCR, there are four entomological collections of both national and international relevance given the presence of many types: the Bernardino Halbherr Collection is composed mainly of Coleoptera, the Livio Tamanini Collection consists of Hemiptera and Coleoptera, the Antonio Galvagni Collection gathers Orthopteroid Insects and the Collection, recently donated by Paolo Fontana, also about Orthopteroid Insects. The first three Collections are mainly composed of specimens collected within the Italian borders, while, on the other hand, specimens of the Fontana Collection come from all over the world, but mainly Italy and Central America. Museum collections are reservoirs of non-renewable information (Winston 2007), so digitisation work is needed to prevent such information from being lost or destroyed due to external events or mismanagement (Andreone et al. 2014). The aim of digitisation is to make the access and study of this information easier for experts and amateurs who want to compare their specimens with the large reference collections that carry out the task of archiving nature (Hoeksema et al. 2011, Smith and Blagoderov 2012). Noteworthy is the Galvagni Collection that covers 60 years of sampling in all regions of Italy and with an excellent representation of the species present in the territory. All this material is an irreplaceable resource and an excellent starting point for carrying out studies on ecology and the variation of biodiversity over time, particularly during the current period of anthropological change (Chapman 2005, Hill et al. 2012, Hoeksema et al. 2011, Alessandri et al. 2019). The purpose of this focus on the Galvagni Collection is to enhance this donation acquired by FMCR in 2015, communicating to experts and amateurs the considerable amount of useful data held by the preserved specimens. Antonio Galvagni (24 May 1924 - 30 April 2015) was a key entomologist on Italian Orthoptera and related orders of Insects (Massa and Fontana 2016). The Galvagni Collection consists of a systematic part and a miscellaneous part for a total of 350 entomological standard boxes, containing 382 types of which 30 are holotypes. The number of types is likely to increase over time, for example, thanks to the help of six specimens of this Collection, a new species of grasshopper has been described for the Italian territory (Fontana et al. 2019).

General description

Additional information: 

The work carried out on the Galvagni Collection took three years of work (2016 - 2019) between reorganisation, restoration of some boxes and digital databasing. The collection as it entered the Museum was in a good state, even after some years of no maintenance by the owner. Nevertheless, to avoid any sort of possible infestation, it was subjected to freezing treatment using large refrigerators present in the Museum. Afterwards, the entomological boxes in the FMCR deposit began to be arranged, cleaned and restored. Finally the systematic collection, that part of the Galvagni Collection identified and arranged according to current taxonomy, was digitally databased in the Museum catalogue. This consists of 219 boxes and is available on the website in the subsection Archives/Sections of the Museum/Zoology-Insects, after registration in the Museum portal (Fig. 1) or is downloadable here as a supplementary file (Suppl. material 1). The systematic collection contains samples pinned or glued on a label for a total of 32,046 specimens and some extracts of genitals or glands prepared on a slide, mostly in excellent condition. All specimens are accompanied by an identification label and collecting locality label indicating country, region, province, municipality, location, altitude and date of collection. On some specimens, not collected directly by Antonio Galvagni, there are also the coordinates of the collecting locality.

Figure 1.  

Database of FMCR available on subsection Archives.

Geographic coverage


The Antonio Galvagni Collection is made up mostly (85%) of Italian specimens, plus others (15%) from the Mediterranean Basin and beyond. With this work, we want to underline the investigation carried out in the Italian regions. As shown in Table 1, Italian regions have different numbers of collected specimens and species: the Region Trentino Alto-Adige (TAA) is characterised by the higher number of collected specimens. This is due to the fact that Galvagni lived in TAA and, therefore, most of the excursions took place on his territory. This does not mean that some collections made in the other Regions are not complete; in fact, if the number of specimens by Regions are converted into the number of species for each Region, it is observed that most of the Regions in the systematic collection are optimally represented (Fig. 2, Fig. 3).

Table 1.

Total of specimens, types and holotypes conserved in the Galvani’s systematic collection.


Number of specimens























Figure 2.  

Number of samples collected on the Italian territory.

Figure 3.  

Number of species divided by Regions.

Concerning the altitudinal distribution of Orthoptera, it is observed that there is a trend for which the Orthoptera increase with the altitude, showing a peak between 1800–2000 m, while the other orders are mostly found below 1400 m (Fig. 4). The reason for this is twofold: 1) a more intensive investigation effort on some medium-high mountain species, some examples are the genera: Miramella (n: 899), Podisma (n: 1438), Anonconotus (n: 521) and Italopodisma (n: 650);

Figure 4.  

Number of samples collected at different altitudes.

2) in general, the number of specimens collected is lower on the valley floor or in coastal areas, as these areas are often highly anthropogenised, therefore lacking suitable habitats.


; .

Taxonomic coverage


The 32,046 specimens of the Galvagni Collection consist of 138 Mantodea (5 species), 4,434 Blattodea (30 species), 25,014 Orthoptera (365 taxa), 2,450 Dermaptera (25 species) and 10 Phasmatodea (Table 1).

Although Antonio Galvagni collected all the orthopteroid groups, his studies concentrated on some genera and this is mostly evident by the fact that many specimens of target taxa are dissected and their genitalia prepared for a deeper study. Some examples of the most studied genera are: amongst Orthoptera Rhacocleis Fieber FX 1853 and Pterolepis Rambur 1838 with 205 samples, Anonconotus Camerano 1838 with 533 samples, Miramella Dovnar-Zapolskij 1932 with 898 samples, Podisma Berthold 1927 with 1460 samples and amongst Blattodea Ectobius Stephens, 1835 with 2966 samples.

In addition to these numbers, we also report a list of all those taxa described by Antonio Galvagni that are still valid for science (Fontana 2017). For the complete list of publications by A. Galvagni, see Fontana 2017.

Taxa included:
Rank Scientific Name
order Mantodea
species Ameles andreae (Galvagni, 1976)
order Blattodea
species Ectobius caprai Galvagni, 1971
species Ectobius tamaninii Galvagni, 1972
species Ectobius tuscus Galvagni, 1978
order Orthoptera
subspecies Capraiuscola ebneri ebneri (Galvagni, 1953)
species Ephippiger ruffoi Galvagni, 1955
species Platycleis concii Galvagni, 1959
subspecies Metrioptera caprai baccettii Galvagni, 1959
species Rhacocleis baccettii Galvagni, 1976
species Rhacocleis bonfilsi Galvagni, 1976
species Pterolepis elymica Galvagni & Massa, 1980
subspecies Pterolepis spoliata kaltenbachi Galvagni, 1981
subspecies Pterolepis spoliata llorenteae Galvagni, 1981
subspecies Pterolepis spoliata nadigi Galvagni, 1981
subspecies Pterolepis spoliata nevadensis Galvagni, 1981
subspecies Pterolepis spoliata pascuali Galvagni, 1981
subspecies Pterolepis spoliata raggei Galvagni, 1981
subspecies Rhacocleis silviarum Galvagni, 1984
subspecies Pterolepis adolphorum (Galvagni, 1988)
subspecies Pterolepis claudiae (Galvagni, 1988)
subspecies Pterolepis moralesi (Galvagni, 1988)
subspecies Pterolepis berberica berberica (Galvagni, 1989)
subspecies Ctenodecticus bolivari africanus Galvagni, 1990
species Barbitistes vicetinus Galvagni & Fontana, 1993
species Pterolepis kabylica (Galvagni & Fontana, 2000)
species Pterolepis augustini (Galvagni, 2001)
species Anonconotus ligustinus Galvagni, 2002
species Anonconotus sibyllinus Galvagni, 2002
species Dolichopoda (Dolichopoda) pavesii Galvagni, 2002
species Anonconotus mercantouri Galvagni & Fontana, 2003
species Dolichopoda (Dolichopoda) lycia (Galvagni, 2006)
species Chrysochraon beybienkoi Galvagni, 1968
species Podisma magdalenae Galvagni, 1971
species Italopodisma lagrecai (Galvagni, 1973)
subspecies Heteracris adspersa massai Galvagni, 1978
genus Nadigella Galvagni, 1986
species Pseudopodisma transilvanica Galvagni & Fontana, 1993
species Pseudopodisma nagyi Galvagni & Fontana, 1996
order Dermaptera
species Chelidurella guentheri Galvagni, 1994
species Chelidurella vignai Galvagni, 1994
species Chelidurella fontanai Galvagni, 1996

Temporal coverage


Antonio Galvagni began to capture specimens intensively from 1940 and continued until he lost the strength to collect; his collection covers more than 60 years of Italian natural history. From the trend of the graph in Fig. 5 comes an alternation of periods of intense capture and periods of stasis. These years were probably used to study the previously accumulated material. These data are due not to the seasonal trend, but clearly to an alternation of collecting and study periods.

Figure 5.  

Number of specimens captured during the principal years of sampling.

Even if there are peaks of collecting activity, during his whole life, Galvagni collected an average of 400 specimens every year.

Usage licence

Usage licence: 
Creative Commons Public Domain Waiver (CC-Zero)

Data resources

Data package title: 
Databasing of Antonio Galvagni Collection (Insecta: Blattodea, Dermaptera, Mantodea, Orthoptera)
Number of data sets: 
Data set name: 
collezione Galvagni

The Galvagni Collection database can be downloaded as supplementary material (Suppl. material 1).

Column label Column description
Section Museum section to which the material is related
Sub-section Museum Sub-section to which the material is related
Number of specimens How many specimens are databased
Object name Name of the species
Continent Continent from which the specimen comes
Country Country from which the specimen comes
Region Region from which the specimen comes
Province Province from which the specimen comes
City City from which the specimen comes
Locality Locality from which the specimen comes
Location Institution where the specimen is preserved
Collection Collection of the museum where the specimen is preserved
Specific Position Number of the entomological box where the specimen is preserved
Board Inventory paper board, when available
Phylum Phylum to which the specimens belong
Class Class to which the specimens belong
Order Order to which the specimens belong
Family Family to which the specimens belong
Genus Genus to which the specimens belong
Species Species to which the specimens belong
Species Author Author of the species
Subspecies Subspecies to which the specimens belong
Subspecies Author Author of the subspecies
Number of males Number of male specimens
Stage of males Stage of development of the preserved specimens
Number of females Number of female specimens
Stage of females Stage of development of the preserved specimens
Mounting Method Procedure used to prepare the specimens
Conservation status Conditions of the specimens (good, bad, broken etc.)
Lowest altitude Lowest altitude of the collecting locality
highest altitude Highest altitude of the collecting locality
Collecting date 1 First date of period in which the specimens have been collected
Collecting date 2 Last date of period in which the specimens have been collected
Collector Who collected the specimens
Reviewer Who reviewed the data entry
Revision date Date in which the revision was made
Notes Additional info about identification, type material etc.

Additional information


Natural History Museums collections are important for homeland security, public health and safety, monitoring of environmental change, taxonomy and systematics (Suarez and Tsutsui 2004). More specifically, entomology collections serve, amongst others, for pest identification, past and present biodiversity assessment, public education, conservation and recovery of endangered species ( The last of this topic is particularly important in recent research run by staff of the Zoology Section of FMCR, since the specimens in recently-acquired collections of Orthoptera (Galvagni collection and Fontana Collection) have been essential in inter-institutional projects about two interesting species, i.e. Uromenus annae (Targioni-Tozzetti, 1881) from Sardinia and Zeuneriana marmorata (Fieber, 1853): the specimens preserved in the Collections have been on the basis of the correct identification of newly-discovered populations for both species (Buzzetti et al. 2019).

The Italian Natural History Museums are in a difficult situation due to many factors (Andreone et al. 2014) and the main dangers for entomology collections are staff and fund reductions plus insufficient training and expertise. Collections themselves can be a useful tool against the last of this threat as specialists can focus on museum material and can gather in museum institutions to share knowledge and train young researchers. As the public and managers become aware of the importance of historic entomology collections, we strongly encourage administrators and students to evaluate possible solutions and careers on entomology collections, in a modern way to take care of the environment.


We thank here Christine Rothwell B.A.Dip.Ed. and Lucio Sirca B.A. (Melbourne, Australia) for proofreading the text, Eleonora Zen (Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto, Italy) for helping in data analysis, Edward Baker (Natural History Museum, London, UK) for improving the English text.


Supplementary material

Suppl. material 1: Collezione Galvagni 
Authors:  Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto
Data type:  Geographic distribution, number of specimens, sex, collecting date, notes