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Stag beetles (Lucanidae) are among the best known and largest beetles in the world. Their name is derived from the oversized and distinctive mandibles of the males of most species with which they carry out their fights for females and food. The females, in contrast, are smaller than the males and have less conspicuous mandibles. Wheras only seven species live in Germany, about 1300 species are described worldwide.
In this volume an overview of the world stag beetle fauna is given, comprising their morphology, systematics, and distribution. Identification keys and numerous illustrations help the reader to distinguish the larvae, pupae, and adult beetles of the Central European species.
Our knowledge of stag beetle biology, life history and development is summarized, although there are still large gaps. While adults feed on nectar and tree sap the larvae live in dead wood of a certain degree of decomposition, which is characteristic for each species. The restricted habitat preferences of these animals make them vulnerable to environmental changes and thus their conservation deserves special attention.
The European stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) is considered one of the largest indigenous beetles and thus has been particularly noticed by humans for centuries. A cultural examination shows the multi-faceted relations between these impressive animals and humans (tradition, cult, folk medicine, motifs in art, etc.).