Protection of subterranean fauna and the cave type localities through The Cave Type Localities Atlas of Croatian Fauna – Volume III
The caves called loci typici or type localities are extremely important as they constitute caves in which a new animal taxon was originally found and described according to the samples found. Research of cave type localities is long-lasting project of the Croatian Biospeleological Society which started in 2000.
There are currently 307 cave type localities in Croatia, with altogether 475 taxa described from them. The number of cave type localities is continuously increasing by the scientific work of CBSS members as well as by the scientific contribution of colleagues and experts from all over Europe.
The most important results of the project The Cave Type Localities Atlas of Croatian Fauna are:
- “Catalogue of Cave Type Localities of Croatian Fauna”, published as a special issue (supplement) of the scientific journal Natura Croatica in 2006. The Catalogue features a first integrated list of all cave type localities in the territory of Croatia (206 cave type localities), including all taxa described from them (333 taxa).
- “Cave Type Localities Atlas of Croatian Fauna, Volume 1” brings additional data on type localities published in the Catalogue, and also gives an additional outline of all taxa described from caves and karstic springs and wells (considered to be speleological objects due to their morphology, but excluded from the Catalogue) in the territory of Croatia. Volume 1 was published in 2010 and there are presented 102 type localities with 133 taxa.
- “Cave Type Localities Atlas of Croatian Fauna, Volume 2” was published in 2013 in Croatian and English. Volume 2 describes in detail 88 caves with their 140 type species.
CBSS is currently collecting the material for Volume 3 of the Cave Type Localities Atlas of Croatian Fauna. Field work includes finding the geographic location of type locality, photographing the entrance and panoramic view of the cave, collecting and photographing the type species, and drawing and/or modifying cave maps and sketches.
Scientific monograph “Terrestrial and aquatic cave fauna of Crnopac”
The Crnopac massive is located in the southeastern part of Velebit Mt. It is one of the most important speleological areas of Croatia with over 250 recorded caves. The most significant are: cave system Kita Gaćešina – Draženova puhaljka as the longest speleological system in the Dinarides, with 33 km of channels currently explored, and Munižaba whose canale volumes make it the largest cave in Croatia. The cave fauna of Crnopac is also very significant and diverse, but its importance is underestimated in relation to the speleological research.
Despite the previously unsystematic and uncontinuous biospeleological research in this area, over 40 species of real cave animals (troglobionts) have been recorded, of which 5 are endemic to Crnopac. The most diverse group of terrestrial animals are beetles (Coleoptera), with 9 troglobiotic species. Recent research has also identified new species from the groups of isopods (Isopoda) and springtails (Collembola). From the aquatic fauna in the aquatic cave habitats of Crnopac, we would single out the endemic species of snails Belgrandiella krupensis and Hadziella sketi, as well as a diverse fauna of aquatic crustaceans.
For this monograph, we have tried to collect all the literature data and give a complete overview of the aquatic and terrestrial cave fauna of Crnopac.
Life under the City – The secret life of the Dubrovnik underground
Karst makes up more than 50% of Croatian territory and belongs to the richest and most diverse area in terms of cave animals in the world. As much as 70% of our underground animal species are endemic. Up to 600 caves have been discovered in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County so far, with an estimation that the total number is about 1,500. In 39 of them, 82 cave animal species were discovered for the first time and scientifically described.
In order to preserve this underground richness, it is necessary to introduce the people living in this fragile area to the uniqueness of karst. With education on subjects like cave biology and quality of groundwater, we want to prevent further degradation of the area. The best way to achive this is to educate students and the public about the richness and values of the underground and the importance of its protection and preservation. The project activities are a continuation of cooperation with teachers in the city of Dubrovnik that started in 2014.
The project is carried out in cooperation with teachers and students of elementary and secondary schools in the city of Dubrovnik. CBSS members hold workshops in which students and teachers get acquainted with the concepts of underground, speleology, biospeleology and the problem of karst underground pollution. After the lectures, they have the opportunity to study cave animals and compare them with their relatives living outside of caves, watch a movie about the behavior of cave animals and think about how it would be to live in total darkness through fun and simple games.
The project is funded by the City of Dubrovnik.
Speleological and biospeleological research of caves in the Kornati National Park
In October 2017, detailed biospeleological research was conducted in the Kornati National Park that yielded very interesting results. There are 29 known speleological objects in the Kornati National Park (anchialine caves are excluded from this number), and the 2017 biospeleological research covered 20 speleological objects. The plan for 2018 is to explore those speleological objects which were not explored in 2017, with a more extensive collecting of cave fauna in order to gain a better insight into the diversity of the subterranean fauna of the Kornati National Park. Also, some part of the field work is always planned for searching for new caves.
Speleological and biospeleological research includes collecting of subterranean fauna, photographing of speleological objects and fauna, measuring microclimatic parameters and drawing of cave maps. By analyzing the material of subterranean fauna collected in 20 speleological objects during 2017 in the Kornati National Park, 65 taxa were determined. Those taxa primary includes troglobionts and troglophiles, but also trogloxenes such as edaphic fauna which are not ecologically related to cave habitats.
Visitors’ Centre Krasno, creating a detailed scenario of the visitors’ centre
Since 2016, we are participating in the project „Visitors’ Centre Krasno, creating a detailed scenario of the visitors’ centre” in the biospeleological part. The aim of this part of the centre is to present rich subterranean fauna od National park Northern Velebit. The fauna of this area is characterised by highly endemic and specialized species. In addition, the basic features of subterranean animals are shown and explained. The animals of Lukina jama, the deepest cave of Croatia, are specially presented and there is also a short overview of biospeleological research of northern Velebit. Available literature, as well as unpublished data of the Croatian Biospeleological Society, were used for the preparation of the scenario.
The Visitors’ Centre is opened to visitors in 2017 under the name “Velebit House” (http://kuca-velebita.np-sjeverni-velebit.hr/), but some biospeleological parts in the centre are still under construction.
Monitoring (praćenje stanja) šišmiša u Nacionalnom parku Plitvička jezera
Dinaric karst is rich in various subterranean habitats and is a center of endemism and biodiversity, and at the same time, it is one of the most threatened habitats on Earth. In Croatia, karst covers more than 50% of the territory. It is estimated that there are around 9000 caves in Croatia. However, bigger bat colonies are found only in about 50 of them. The number of important underground habitats for bats is likely to be higher, but large parts of Dinaric karst are still not researched. Due to their specific lifestyle, bats are considered to be good bioindicators of the environment. European bats that feed mainly on insects can reflect the influence of pesticides, species that use trees for roosting reflect a healthy status of forests, and due to their specific microclimatic requirements, bats can reflect the influence of climate change. In many countries in Europe, bats are monitored regularly in underground habitats according to pre-set protocols in order to follow their population trends during summer, winter or migration period. In Croatia, all bat species are protected by law and their trend should also be followed. From 2015 onwards, CBSS is monitoring bat cave species and their numbers in Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the richest parks in Croatia in bat species. Monitoring is conducted in 4 selected caves and one above ground facility, in various seasons according to the presence of maternity or migratory colonies and hibernating individuals. With the long-term monitoring of bat species and their population trends within the Plitvice Lakes National Park, we can have a better overview of their dynamics and potential threats and environmental changes that could threaten them.