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ROSSI  Loreto 

He is full professor of Ecology at the “Sapienza” University of Rome. He is biologist with four decades research experience in the field of trophic ecology with particular emphasis on food niche, food webs and decomposition in detritus-based systems. He was principal investigator in pioneering studies concerning the relationships between plant detritus, microorganisms, detritivores, and fishes in water systems (fresh waters, coastal sea, transitional waters and rivers). At present the same research issues are addressed in terrestrial ecosystems. The principal focus of  Rossi’s research is biodiversity-functioning relationships in food web (multi-trophic communities), structured by both competition and consumer-resource  interactions, in which decomposition  measures the ecosystem functioning. The results obtained also by stable isotope analysis emphasize a number of intriguing features about the detritus and water systems:

(i) fungi colonising leaf detritus form a  mosaic of  food items crucial in the source partitioning and coexistence among detritivorous species. This provides an ideal model system for investigating competition, food web and diversity-functioning relationships; (ii) The ratio between generalist/specialist phenotypes  of intermediate species along food chains explain the mean short chain length in the web  reconciling conflicting hypotheses; (iii) Predator influences the prey vagility and nutrient transferiment along food chain; (iv) Decomposition rates of leaf detritus are (geostatistically) spatial dependent;  this dependence is broken by disturbance providing “seascape” useful to monitor and manage brackish and inland water systems; (v) Transgenic corn shows δ15N and δ13C different from its isogenic and this difference is reverberated to detritivores that can operate as indicators of transgenic crops in field and the organization of biodiversity in food web is sensitive to Bt-protein. (vi) In aquatic and terrestrial food webs, linkage density, assessed by Stable Isotops, which was found to be directly correlated to niche width, increased with the total number of species in terrestrial webs, whereas it did not change significantly in aquatic ones, where connectance scaled negatively with the total number of species with important implications in community stability; (vii) In coastal sea and transitional water systems variations of δ15N in Ulva lactuca and Perilython indicate organic vs. inorganic Nitrogen pollution.

 He has published more than 200 scientific papers in national and international journals (74 in Scopus, all in the first quartile, with 14 H) (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Oikos, Evolution, Mycologia, Functional Ecology, Oecologia, Hydrobiologia, Marine Ecology Progress series, Tropical ecology, Aquatic Science, Aquatic conservation, Applied Soil Ecology, Marine Pollution Bulletin, PlosOne, Ecological Complexity, etc.) and he is responsible for  Italian versions of a number of university textbooks for ecology. He was visiting professor at UNC (North Carolina, USA-1979), and scientist at Glasgow and at Sheffield Universities (UK) (1983, 1985). Rossi has coordinated national and international research programmes in Italy and UK and numerous post-doctors/visiting professors have worked in his lab. He was the coordinator of doctorate courses in Fundamental Ecology and the tutor of 30 PhD students. At 1985 received the thalassography-hydrobiology award from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

He has recently been the principal scientist in competitive calls: Miur-PRIN programs, European Community Programmes and Antarctic Research Programmes on the biodiversity-functioning relationships. At present Prof. Rossi is studying food-webs in mangrove, water systems (Malaysia), agroecosystem based on transgenic corncrops  and Antarctic Sea climatic change effects using C and N stable isotopes. Geostatistical mapping of ecosystem functioning (i.e. decomposition) using satellite imagery was developed and applied to environmental impact assessment.  He is in the editorial board of Ecological Indicators and of  Ecological Processes. 

He teachs General Ecology (Bachelor course) and Experimental and Applied Ecology (Master course in Ecobiology). He was the principal proponent and at present is the President of the master course in EcoBiology at Sapienza University of Rome.


Training and mentoring students:  I attempt to train students following my approach to research. The training for graduate students is based on the identification of important questions and learning how to go about answering them. Once the solutions are at hand, then we make a step back and look at how results fit into the relate theory. I think that the duality of this approach encourages the depth of analysis and the breadth of perspective. I require students to study trophic ecology but not particular taxa. What I look for is a passion for ecology and for quantitative reasoning.    


Technical Assistant: Mr. Pino Biasini                                                                                                           

Assistant in aquatic ecosystems: Polvere pirica – labrador retriever                                                      






CV ITALIANO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Il prof. Loreto Rossi,  si è laureato in Biologia nel 1971 cum laude e nel 1973 ha vinto un concorso nazionale per assistente ordinario. Nel 1980 è vincitore di concorso nazionale per professore associato BIO/07 ed è chiamato dall’università di Roma. Loreto Rossi è professore ordinario di Ecologia dal 1989, chiamato prima dall'Università del Salento e poi (1994) dalla Facoltà di Sc.M.F.N. e rientra nell'Università Sapienza di Roma. Attualmente è titolare di due corsi da 9CFU, uno per il Corso di Laurea in Biologia triennale e l’altro per la Laurea  Magistrale  in  EcoBiologia,  di  cui  è  proponente  e  Coordinatore  nella  Facoltà  di  Sc.  Mat.Fis.Nat.  della “Sapienza”. Ha curato l'edizione italiana di importanti libri di testo di ecologia per l'università: Basi di Ecologia (Odum),  Fondamenti  di  Ecologia  (Odum  e  Barrett),  Ecologia  (P.  Colinvaux),  Ecologia  ed  Ecologia  Applicata (Cunninghan), Ecologia Marina (Barnes). Ha fondato e coordinato il dottorato di ricerca in Ecologia fondamentale presso l'Università del Salento (1989) ed è docente per il dottorato di Scienze Ecologiche alla Sapienza. Ha seguito come relatore oltre 30 dottorandi che sono tutti inseriti stabilmente nell’industria o nella ricerca. Rossi ha un'esperienza trentennale nella ricerca scientifica in ecologia funzionale degli ecosistemi naturali ed antropizzati, nei quali ha condotto studi pioneristici sui sistemi a base detrito di ambienti acquatici e terrestri. La sua esperienza sulla decomposizione in ambienti acquatici e sulle reti trofiche lo ha portato al Premio G.B.Grassi dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei per la Talassografia biologica. Ha prodotto contributi originali (190) la maggior parte pubblicati su importanti riviste scientifiche di ecologia (Oecologia, Oikos, Evolution, Mycologia, Functional Ecology, Hydrobiologia, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Journal of Tropical Ecology, Marine and freshwater research, Aquatic conservation, Plos one, ecc.) riguardanti le reti trofiche, la decomposizione biologica, i rapporti interspecifici e la nicchia ecologica.  I più recenti lavori contemplano sia analisi di “change detection”del paesaggio da immagini satellitari, utili alla stima della vulnerabilità degli habitat, sia nuove metodiche come l'analisi degli isotopi stabili del C e N per seguire i flussi trofici nelle catene alimentari. Integrando questi due approcci Rossi ha puntualizzato un metodo per la stima della Carrying Capacity  del paesaggio relativamente al “disturbo” e quindi  alla stima dello sviluppo sostenibile. Attualmente, sta sperimentando un nuovo uso degli isotopi stabili per la determinazione dell’origine degli inquinanti azotati in ambiente marino. Il prof. Rossi ha coordinato numerosi programmi di ricerca nazionali ed internazionali in Italia, in North Carolina (USA), nelle Università di Glasgow e di Sheffield (GB) dove ha ricoperto ruoli di professore di ecologia applicata. Nel laboratorio di Roma ha ospitato numerosi post-doctors/visiting professors. Attualmente coordina progetti finanziati dal MIPAF, MIUR  e dal CNR-ANTARTIDE. E' proponente di due progetti UE, uno per il recupero di praterie sommerse in area “tsunami” in Malaysia, ed un altro sullo sviluppo sostenibile del lago Titicaca (Perù). E' consulente FAO e NERC-UK ed è nell’Editorial Board di riviste scientifiche internazionali di ecologia e membro permanente della commissione di  Alta  Consulenza del Ministro dell'Ambiente. E’ consulente UNESCO (Parigi) per il disastro del Mare di Aral (Kazakhstan, Asia Centrale). Nel corso della carriera accademica il prof. L. Rossi ha dato impulso ad una nuova scuola di ecologi ben nota in Italia e all’estero. Ha formato  quattro professori ordinari, tre professori associati e 6 ricercatori di ecologia, tutti attualmente in servizio presso diverse università italiane. Per  quanto riguarda la formazione, Loreto Rossi insegna agli studenti un duplice approccio alla ricerca scientifica. Il   training è basato sull’identificazione di problemi importanti e dell’approccio ottimale per la loro risoluzione. Una volta trovata la soluzione si fa un passo indietro per la ricerca della teoria più idonea a comprendere la soluzione stessa. La dualità dell’approccio del prof. Rossi si è dimostrata efficace perché incoraggia gli allievi ad approfondimenti e gli apre nuove prospettive.  Rossi non richiede lo studio di particolari taxa ma solo dell’ecologia trofica, egli chiede passione per la ricerca quantitativa da affrontare con la mente sempre aperta alle altre discipline scientifiche.


area di ricerca:

The research are focused on food web and biodiversity-functioning relationships in multi-trophic communities, structured by both competition and consumer-resource  interactions, in which decomposition  measures the ecosystem functioning. KeyWord: Food web, Ecological niche, Biodiversity organizzation, Ecosistem functioning (decomposition), Aquatic and Terrestrial systems, Stable Isotope Analysis.                                                                     

  1. Calizza, E., Careddu, G., Sporta Caputi, S., Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L. (2018) Time- and depth-wise trophic niche shifts in Antarctic benthos. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0194796.


  1. Rossi, L., Calizza, E., Careddu, G., Rossi, D., Orlandi, L., Jona-Lasinio, G., Aguzzi, L., Costantini, M.L. Space-time monitoring of coastal pollution in the Gulf of Gaeta, Italy, using Δ15N values of Ulva lactuca, landscape hydromorphology, and Bayesian Kriging modelling (2018) Marine Pollution Bulletin, 126, pp. 479-487.


  1. Fiorentino, F., Cicala, D., Careddu, G., Calizza, E., Jona-Lasinio, G., Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L. Epilithon δ15N signatures indicate the origins of nitrogen loading and its seasonal dynamics in a volcanic Lake (2017) Ecological Indicators, 79, pp. 19-27.


  1. Careddu, G., Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L.Isotopic determination of the trophic ecology of a ubiquitous key species – The crab Liocarcinus depurator (Brachyura: Portunidae)(2017) Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 191, pp. 106-114.


  1. Orlandi, L., Calizza, E., Careddu, G., Carlino, P., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. The effects of nitrogen pollutants on the isotopic signal (Δ15N) of Ulva lactuca: Microcosm experiments (2017) Marine Pollution Bulletin, 115 (1-2), pp. 429-435.


  1. Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Careddu, G., Rossi, L. Effect of habitat degradation on competition, carrying capacity, and species assemblage stability (2017) Ecology and Evolution, 7 (15), pp. 5784-5796.


  1. Calizza, E., Fiorentino, F., Careddu, G., Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L. Lake water quality for human use and tourism in Central Italy (Rome)(2017) WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 216, pp. 229-236.


  1. Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, D., Pasquali, V., Careddu, G., Rossi, L. Stable isotopes and digital elevation models to study nutrient inputs in high-arctic lakes (2016) Rendiconti Lincei, 27, pp. 191-199.


  1. Bentivoglio, F., Calizza, E., Rossi, D., Carlino, P., Careddu, G., Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L. Site-scale isotopic variations along a river course help localize drainage basin influence on river food webs (2016) Hydrobiologia, 770 (1), pp. 257-272.


  1. di Lascio, A., Madeira, F., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L., Pons, X. Movement of three aphidophagous ladybird species between alfalfa and maize revealed by carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis (2016) BioControl, 61 (1), pp. 35-46.


  1. Rossi, L., di Lascio, A., Carlino, P., Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L. Predator and detritivore niche width helps to explain biocomplexity of experimental detritus-based food webs in four aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (2015) Ecological Complexity, 23, pp. 14-24.


  1. Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. Effect of multiple disturbances on food web vulnerability to biodiversity loss in detritus-based systems (2015) Ecosphere, 6 (7), art. no. 124, .


  1. Careddu, G., Costantini, M.L., Calizza, E., Carlino, P., Bentivoglio, F., Orlandi, L., Rossi, L. Effects of terrestrial input on macrobenthic food webs of coastal sea are detected by stable isotope analysis in Gaeta Gulf (2015) Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 154, pp. 158-168.


  1. Calizza, E., Aktan, Y., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. Stable isotope variations in benthic primary producers along the Bosphorus (Turkey): A preliminary study (2015) Marine Pollution Bulletin, 97 (1-2), pp. 535-538.


  1. Jona-Lasinio, G., Costantini, M.L., Calizza, E., Pollice, A., Bentivoglio, F., Orlandi, L., Careddu, G., Rossi, L. Stable isotope-based statistical tools as ecological indicator of pollution sources in Mediterranean transitional water ecosystems (2015) Ecological Indicators, 55, art. no. 2340, pp. 23-31.


  1. Orlandi, L., Bentivoglio, F., Carlino, P., Calizza, E., Rossi, D., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. δ15N variation in Ulva lactuca as a proxy for anthropogenic nitrogen inputs in coastal areas of Gulf of Gaeta (Mediterranean Sea) (2014) Marine Pollution Bulletin, 84 (1-2), pp. 76-82.


  1. Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. Observation of an Adélie penguin pecking at a conspecific carcass: A case of intraspecific necrophagy? (2014) Antarctic Science, 27 (1), pp. 71-72.


  1. Mancinelli, G., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. Predicting ergosterol in leaf litter by near-infrared spectroradiometry: A preliminary assessment (2014) European Journal of Soil Biology, 63, pp. 49-54.


  1. Costantini, M.L., Calizza, E., Rossi, L. Stable isotope variation during fungal colonisation of leaf detritus in aquatic environments (2014) Fungal Ecology, 11, pp. 154-163.


  1. Santoro, R., Bentivoglio, F., Carlino, P., Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. Sensitivity of food webs to nitrogen pollution: A study of three transitional water ecosystems embedded in agricultural landscapes (2014) Transitional Waters Bulletin, 8 (1), pp. 84-97.


  1. Madeira, F., di Lascio, A., Carlino, P., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L., Pons, X. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures to determine predator dispersal between alfalfa and maize (2014) Biological Control, 77, pp. 66-75.


  1. Carrozzo, L., Potenza, L., Carlino, P., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L., Mancinelli, G. Seasonal abundance and trophic position of the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus Rathbun 1896 in a Mediterranean coastal habitat (2014) Rendiconti Lincei, 25 (2), pp. 201-208.


  1. Mancinelli, G., Carrozzo, L., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L., Marini, G., Pinna, M. Occurrence of the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896 in two Mediterranean coastal habitats: Temporary visitor or permanent resident? (2013) Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 135, pp. 46-56.


  1. Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Carlino, P., Bentivoglio, F., Orlandi, L., Rossi, L. Posidonia oceanica habitat loss and changes in litter-associated biodiversity organization: A stable isotope-based preliminary study (2013) Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 135, pp. 137-145.


  1. Mulder, C., Ahrestani, F.S., Bahn, M., Bohan, D.A., Bonkowski, M., Griffiths, B.S., Guicharnaud, R.A., Kattge, J., Krogh, P.H., Lavorel, S., Lewis, O.T., Mancinelli, G., Naeem, S., Peñuelas, J., Poorter, H., Reich, P.B., Rossi, L., Rusch, G.M., Sardans, J., Wright, I.J. Connecting the Green and Brown Worlds. Allometric and Stoichiometric Predictability of Above- and Below-Ground Networks (2013) Advances in Ecological Research, 49, pp. 69-175.


  1. Calizza, E., Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L. Predators and Resources Influence Phosphorus Transfer along an Invertebrate Food Web through Changes in Prey Behaviour (2013) PLoS ONE, 8 (6), art. no. e65186, .


  1. Di Lascio, A., Rossi, L., Carlino, P., Calizza, E., Rossi, D., Costantini, M.L. Stable isotope variation in macroinvertebrates indicates anthropogenic disturbance along an urban stretch of the river Tiber (Rome, Italy) (2013) Ecological Indicators, 28, pp. 107-114.


  1. Calizza, E., Costantini, M.L., Rossi, D., Carlino, P., Rossi, L. Effects of disturbance on an urban river food web (2012) Freshwater Biology, 57 (12), pp. 2613-2628.


  1. Costantini, M.L., Zaccarelli, N., Mandrone, S., Rossi, D., Calizza, E., Rossi, L. NDVI spatial pattern and the potential fragility of mixed forested areas in volcanic lake watersheds (2012) Forest Ecology and Management, 285, pp. 133-141.


  1. Di Lascio, A., Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L. Different temperature tolerance of northern and southern European populations of a freshwater Isopod Crustacean species (Asellus aquaticus L.) (2011) Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 179 (3), pp. 193-201.


  1. Costantini, M.L., Rossi, L. Species diversity and decomposition in laboratory aquatic systems: The role of species interactions (2010) Freshwater Biology, 55 (11), pp. 2281-2295.


  1. Rossi, L., Costantini, M.L., Carlino, P., di Lascio, A., Rossi, D. Autochthonous and allochthonous plant contributions to coastal benthic detritus deposits: A dual-stable isotope study in a volcanic lake (2010) Aquatic Sciences, 72 (2), pp. 227-236.


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