The EHP-CZ02-OV-1-024-2015 Project: Monitoring in the Natura 2000 System
Invitation to a project-related seminar Monitoring of the Status of Species Listed in the EU natureDirectives in Natura 2000 Sites
Reports on the field survey of amphibians in selected locations within Natura 2000
The season of batrachian species is almost over; amphibians travel around or have already occupied their winter quarters and it is time to evaluate this year’s season. The weather was not very favourable for amphibians. The promising spring was followed by a dry summer and numerous minor waters dried up completely. Not only did this situation not allow amphibians to successfully complete metamorphosis but it also distorted the overall field survey results. This project activity was aimed at determining possibly the complete species spectrum of amphibians, estimating the size of populations and describing the negatively impacting factors in 183 locations of European importance. Therefore, the stated results of certain species from dried up locations could be undervalued this year compared to previous years. Field work has already been completed and currently, the obtained data are being entered into the Finding Database of Nature Conservation and final reports are being prepared.
One of the new methods which was used in the project during the field survey of newts is the use of live-capture traps. The method is based on capturing adults using traps which are inserted in waters (see the picture). Newts actively enter the traps through a hole with a narrowed neck, which makes it difficult for them to find their way out. Newts enter the traps as part of their exploration behaviour at the location, or are attracted by a bait (liver). Traps are sufficiently spacious: they do not restrict the animals in their movement, enabling them to breathe without any complications, and even to hunt for food. Traps are inserted into waters, usually in the evening, being checked the next morning. Captured animals are determined and released back at the location. The methodology for using live-capture traps is available at www.biomonitoring.cz. This method is suitable especially where the location cannot be thoroughly swept with a net or where using such method would have a negative impact on the location. It is also suitable where the population of newts is so small that the probability of capturing them by means of a net is low.
Biotope requirements of the boreal owl (Aegolius funereus) in locations within the Natura 2000 system
During the first stage of the project, the size of the boreal owl population was determined based on voice counting and the number of occupied nesting boxes in three locations – Krušné hory (The Ore Mountains), the Třeboň region and Boletice. In addition, in Krušné hory and in the Třeboň region, the size of the food offer for the boreal owl was monitored based on capturing small mammals in snapping traps. In the next stage of the project, biotope preferences of raised boreal owl young were identified based on telemetric monitoring – such remote monitoring was applied to 27 individuals in Krušné hory and three individuals in the Třeboň region.
In Krušné hory, a seven times higher number of hooting males (23 hooting males per 100 km2) compared to the Třeboň region (three hooting males per 100 km2) was detected. Out of 233 nesting boxes in Krušné hory, 34 were occupied. Of these nesting boxes, 27 were evaluated as successfully nested with a total of 118 young. In the Třeboň region, out of 250 nesting boxes only three were occupied and only in two were a total of nine young raised successfully. In Boletice, none of the 50 registered nesting boxes was occupied. Furthermore, the number of small mammals in the monitored locations in Krušné hory was found to be a third higher than in the Třeboň region. The Norway spruce (Picea abies) confirmed itself as a significant component of the biotope although the use of non-autochthonous blue spruce (Picea pungens) vegetation shows the good adaptive abilities of boreal owls. Another aspect which proved to be important is the hanging of nesting boxes in places with insufficient natural nesting cavities (Krušné hory), while in places with lower numbers of boreal owls and sufficient natural nesting cavities (the Třeboň region), the hanging of nesting boxes did not prove to be very effective.
The second information seminar focusing on the project entitled “Monitoring of the Status of Species Listed in the EU Nature Directives at Natura 2000 Sites” took place on the last day of March at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
The participants in the seminar were welcomed by the Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Science of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, prof. RNDr. Vladimír Bejček, CSc., who provided basic information about the project and its progress. His introductory speech was followed by the presentation of results of four activities terminating on 30 April 2016 as well as by the presentation of results of the activity entitled “Monitoring of the numbers and reproduction rate of nesting populations of water birds in the Czech Republic”. The presentations were prepared and presented by members of the implementation teams of the individual activities from the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague and from the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic.
Monitoring of the incidence of chytridiomycosis in amphibians of European importance in locations of European importance
Within the first stage of the project, from March to May 2015, locations of European importance suitable for the capture of amphibians were selected. Locations were selected based on field surveys and information obtained thanks to the co-operation with the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic. As of mid-May, a total of 41 locations had been visited, in 28 of which amphibians were sampled for the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) – a fungus causing chytridiomycosis. After sampling, an analysis was carried out for the presence of Bd, initially using the Genie II device. Subsequently, some of the samples (especially in cases of positive findings or suspected positive findings) were transferred to the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, where analysis of the pathogen’s DNA was performed using PCR. Thanks to this sensitive method, even rare DNA molecules can be detected in the sample. By the end of 2015, a total of 612 samples from thirteen locations had been analysed within which 72 positive samples were detected (approx. 30% of the analysed samples). The prevalence of the Bd pathogen was found to be rare, which suggests low numbers of zoospores, and hence an unnoticeable impact on the physiological expression and behaviour of an individual. This is probably influenced by Bd sensitivity to temperatures over 37°C and below 4°C, which reduce its proliferation in temperate regions.
Invitation to a project-related seminar
The second seminar focusing on the project entitled “Monitoring of the Status of Species Listed in the EU Nature Directives at Natura 2000 Sites” will take place on 31 March 2016 at the Faculty of Environmental Science of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
Analysis of habitat requirements and identification of possible risks for dragonflies (Odonata) in the areas of the Natura 2000 system
During the first stage of the project, i.e., from February to April 2015, reference locations were selected, theoretical preparation was conducted and the methodology of data collection was optimised. Using the available funds, all the equipment necessary for locating and capturing dragonflies and for preserving samples was obtained. The fieldwork itself was carried out from May to September 2015 and information about dragonfly diversity as well as about key environmental variables was collected. Photos were taken and the rate of potential threat to target populations was determined, too. Despite relatively unfavourable conditions during the season, a sufficient amount of data was gathered. Cumulatively, 1,382 records were obtained, which have been stored in the database, and currently, these records are being statistically processed. The presence of target species was determined in fewer than half the locations. One of the reasons might be the characteristics of locations which do not correspond to the actual habitat requirements of dragonflies. Numerous dragonfly populations are hence threatened by succession or inappropriate management. Once all the analyses have been completed, results will be interpreted in the form of key outputs – the evaluation of negative impacts on target populations of dragonflies and the optimised management of target species.
Reports on the field survey of selected vascular plants in selected locations of European importance
In 2015, fifteen species of vascular plants of European importance were monitored despite the unfavourable climatic conditions (excessive drought and heat).
In the Krkonoše (Giant Mountains) both older locations and selected places with the potential occurrence of Bohemian bellflower (Campanula Bohemica) (41 locations) and Sudeten lousewort (Pedicularis Sudetica) (10 locations) were monitored with a very positive result. As regards the bellflower, 20 new locations have been identified, which corresponds to its more extensive proliferation, whereas a new microlocation has been found of the extremely endangered species of Sudeten lousewort above the Horní Úpský vodopád waterfall.
In the Beskydy (Beskid Mountains), the monitoring and field survey of Aconitum firmum subsp. moravicum was conducted in 51 locations, of which five locations were newly found. The lack of moisture and high temperatures in the growing season (and partly also in the previous season) were reflected in the massive drying up of flowers. Monitoring in the forthcoming years will show whether this fact will have a permanent impact on the population. In some locations, 80–90% of flowers were affected by drying up.
In selected locations of European importance in Bohemia and Moravia, twelve plant species were monitored, for instance: the greater pasque flower (Pulsatilla grandis) was monitored in all the locations in Podyjí, with the exception of certain locations with the largest populations. A final report was prepared, which contains specifying management proposals, also taking into account the results of monitoring in previous years. The field survey and monitoring of the marsh gladiolus (Gladiolus palustris) was also successful; new microlocations were found although regular monitoring has already been carried out since 2000. This species is practically undetectable when not in blossom as it resembles a blade of grass.
Field survey of ichthyofauna at the Nová Říše reservoir
At the beginning of September, another field survey of the local ichthyofauna was carried out at the Nová Říše reservoir, which is also a location of European importance established for the protection of Cobitis elongatoides. The main objective of the September captures was to confirm the results of the field survey carried out in June associated with marking the captured individuals. Based on the number of captured marked individuals it is possible to estimate, using the mark-recapture method, the total numbers of the local population. Such information about probably the most numerous population of Cobitis elongatoides in the Czech Republic was still lacking. In addition, Cobitis elongatoides were marked differently by location. Autumn captures confirmed the fidelity of this species to their part of the reservoir and only a very limited mixing of local populations in close by locations. During captures, samples were also taken of the substrate and potential food of Cobitis elongatoides, which contributes to clarifying the basic environmental requirements of this species in the non-typical habitat of an impounding reservoir.
Project-related information seminar
The information seminar focusing on the project entitled “Monitoring of the Status of Species Listed in the EU Nature Directives at Natura 2000 Sites” took place at the end of September at the headquarters of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic in Prague.
Participants in the seminar first got to meet each other and subsequently were briefly informed by Mgr. et Mgr. Karel Chobot, PhD. about cooperating entities, the reasons for implementing the project as well as about its progress. Then, individual project activities were presented by the employees of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, the Czech Ornithological Association and the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
The Monitoring of Chiroptera in the Voděradské bučiny (SCI)
The monitoring of Chiroptera continued in the last week of August in the area of the Voděradské bučiny Sites of Community Importance (SCI), including detection and capture in nets in the Jevansky brook valley. Prior to capture, the detector identified high flying activity of 4 species: the Common Noctule (Nyctalus noctula), Daubenton’s Bat (Myotis daubentonii), the Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and the Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus). Daubenton’s Bat and the Common Pipistrelle were also caught in nets during the night, together with the Whiskered Bat (Myotis mystacinus) and rare Alcathoe Bat (Myotis alcathoe). So far, 15 Chiroptera species have been proven at the site. Besides the aforementioned species, there were the Greater Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis), Natterer’s Bat (Myotis nattereri), Brandt’s Bat (Myotis brandtii), the Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus), the Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus), Nathusius’ Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii), the Serotine Bat (Eptesicus serotinus), the Parti-coloured Bat (Vespertilio murinus) and the Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros).
Monitoring of the Rosalia Longicorn (Rosalia alpina) and the Carabus hungaricus Beetle
Monitoring of the Rosalia Longicorn (Rosalia alpina) at the Malý Bezděz and Slatinné vrchy SCI and their environs was accomplished at the end of June. Individual marking was applied to over 400 beetles in order to get an estimate of the population size, and the sites were evaluated. Unfortunately, it was confirmed that the area of suitable beechwoods continues to decrease, and major changes in forest management will be required in order to ensure the long-term existence of the Rosalia Longicorn in the Doksy region.
At the beginning of August a project was launched involving the intense monitoring of the Carabus hungaricus beetle in the Pálava and Pouzdřanská step National Nature Reserve. This steppe species of the Carabidae beetles, formerly abundant at many sites, now occurs only in these last complexes of the former steppe. Using traps and individual marking of each individual beetle, we want to obtain approximate population figures, which will allow us to launch action measures if the population declines now or in the future.
Trondheim, May 2015:
The subject of assessment of ecosystem services in Europe attracts ever more attention, in particular thanks to the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The demanding target of mapping ecosystems and their services is based on the knowledge presented by projects and publications. These have shown that besides its inherent value, biodiversity also represents a value for human society and the human economy. The economic values of ecosystem services are estimated at billions of EUR per year. Non-EU countries are also convinced about the importance of assessing ecosystem services. EEA grants financed by Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland have offered some of their funds to be spent on these issues.
In May 2015, a conference was held in Trondheim in Norway, attended by representatives of countries and institutions who deal with projects thematically related to the projects implemented by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic. Many post-communist countries, whose representatives accounted for the majority of participants, decided to tackle the strategy themes head on.
The participation in the conference was covered from the EHP-CZ02-BFB-1-045-2015 project.
The EHP-CZ02-OV-1-016-2014 Project: Fragmentation of River Networks
The final workshop of the project „Development of strategy for mitigation of river fragmentation impacts in the hydrological network of the Czech Republic“
One of the latest activities of project „Development of strategy for mitigation of river fragmentation impacts in the hydrological network of the Czech Republic“ (EHP-CZ02-OV-1-016-2014) funded by Norway grants 2009- 2014, was the organization of final workshop summarizing overall outputs and solutions of fragmentation of river networks in the Czech Republic. Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (AOPK) with Partners Beleco z. s., T.G.M. Water Research Institute formed the workshop program according to the project´s partial activities. The purpose of the workshop was familiarize the general public with outputs of project and their subsequent use in practice, which extends the existing data and knowledge. The final workshop was attended by nearly 80 people of general professional public.
First of all, the project’s coordinator (Ing. Pavel Marek) from Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (AOPK) presented basic information about the project. This presentation was followed by Mgr. Zdeněk Vogl’s (AOPK) topic about Pasportizations of transverse objects in watercourses, their database and web presentation. Very interesting contribution was presentation about Water management in SCI, which was followed by a rather stormy debate about this topic. The problem is the contradiction between legislative assumptions as tools for practice and working in practice. In the next block, the Extensive functional verification of fish ladders trying to highlight often insufficient condition of fish ladders, Biological monitoring of fish ladders by advanced methods of movement monitoring and Evaluation of the migration permeability in interest area of Krkonoše National Park were presented.
After the lunch break, Knowledge of expanding fish and lampreys in selected SCI were presented. Next there was talking about monitoring and migration of two main fish species of the Czech Republic, doing long-distance migration between marine and freshwater environment (diadromic migration) linked to their lifestyle, Anguilla Anguilla and Salmo Salar. Within the last block two presentations were presented ways of possible permeability solutions in watercourses Elbe (Weir Střekov), Kamenice (Bohemian Switzerland National Park – Wild and Edmund’s gorge) and Chřibská Kamenice (Pavlina’s Valley). Very complicated are cases in river Elbe and Kamenice, which are not only for designers big challenges to solve.
The final workshop was successful, not only because of large participation, but also from results of the questionnaire survey that the participants filled, as we mainly see positive feedback evaluation. The fact that the project solved the poignant and necessary questions in response to needs of practice indicates not only large participation, but also general interest in individual topics in debates of participants.
Thanks to this workshop, we assume full use of the outputs of the project that was primary goal since project start.
Workshops organized within the Framework of the Norway Grants project “Development of strategy for mitigation of river fragmentation impacts in the hydrological network of the Czech Republic“
Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (AOPK) with Partners Beleco z. s., T.G.M. Water Research Institute, organized workshops within the Framework of the Norway Grants project “Development of strategy for mitigation of river fragmentation impacts in the hydrological network of the Czech Republic“ in the four cities in the Czech republic. The purpose of these workshops was to introduce the main activities of project to experts. The presentations were guided by solvers of project or of activities. Workshops were attended by more than 150 people.
First presentation was focused on Water management in SCI and Introduction of database, which has been created within the project. The presentation by AOPK – Usability of database, was interesting especially for employees of state administration, because it can be used in practice. Then the presentations focused on Fish migration monitoring (direct monitoring methods) and Possibilities of visual assessment of fish ladders (indirect monitoring methods) follow. These methods allow effective identification of implemented measures (fish ladders) including possible deficiencies (insufficient maintenance of buildings, mistakes in designing works, mistakes within implementation works etc.) The final presentation was about the latest Knowledge of expanding fish and lampreys in SCI.
The interest of the participants was considerable. It can be deduced from discussions to individual topics, but also from evaluations obtained through a questionnaire survey which was focused on contribution of individual presentations and whole workshops. Exceptionally, we found average or even critical assessment. We can say that similar information workshops are desirable and they should be common part of communication/ works with experts and general public, not only within the similar projects.
We are convinced the workshops will contribute to the greater and more efficient use of databases.
The final workshop to this project will be held on 25 April 2017.
Invitation to the final Workshop in Prague
Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic with Partners Beleco z. s., T.G.M. Water Research Institute, NINA would like to invite you to Final Workshops held in Prague, Holečkova 3178/8 on April 25th 2017. Within the Framework of the Norway Grants project “Development of strategy for mitigation of river fragmentation impacts in the hydrological network of the Czech Republic” will be presented results of Project, which are based on migration permeability watercourses of the Czech Republic. Focus will be also on assessment of fragmentation in river networks on selected watercourses with help mapping survey, usage database and website for general public, Implementation monitoring of fish migration (Anguilla anguilla, Salmo salar), Water management in SCI, Probing of fish ladder with the help visual assessment and advanced methods of monitoring, Proposed optimal solution for migration permeability on significant barriers, at Weir Střekov, barriers in National Park Bohemian Switzerland in Edmund (Quite) and Wild Gorge of the River Kamenice etc.
Final workshop is free of charge with limited capacity. Necessary condition is sign up on AOPK ČR website. for more detailes please click on this invitation card (in czech language).
Invitation to Workshops
Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic with Partners Beleco z. s., T.G.M. Water Research Institute, NINA would like to invite you to workshops held in Czech cities (České Budějovice, Olomouc, Louny, Vrchlabí) during the month April. These workshops will be focussed on Water management on selected watercourses in SCI, usage database, mapping survey of fishes and lampreys in SCI etc. Workshops are free of charge with limited capacity.
Necessary condition is sign up on AOPK ČR website. More detailes are available here (in czech language).
Restocking fishes observed due to migration at Weir Střekov
In the middle of March, the staff of T.G.M. Water Research Institute with assistance of Czech Fishing Union, were restocking fishes observed due to migration at Weir Střekov. This marking process focused on individuals of Nase Carp, which will migrate for friction in spring. Other representatives of local ichthyofauna were marked as well. The workers took notes about physical parameters of all individuals (weight, length and height of the body, distinct injury, etc.). Approximately 500 fishes were caught and chipped in total and it will be possible to determine their migration through fish ladder in the last barrier of river Labe in Czech Republic.
Implementation of transmitters with radio telemetry
During the first week of March, 50 salmon parr were caught by the staff of T.G.M. Water Research Institute with assistance of the Czech Fishing Union. These were chipped in order to obtain information about their migration. From this quantity, 24 individuals with the likelihood of immediate starting of migration (determined by morphological color features) were chosen and got the transmitter with radio telemetry implanted. Thanks to these measures, their immediate movement can be monitored. The aim of monitoring is, among other things, determinate preferences in choosing ways of downstream migration overcoming river barrier, for example weir field, fish ladders, intake facility to small hydro power plant (SHPP) and other.
Specification of occurrence of protected subjects in SCI
In the Czech Republic, we register 17 species of community importance listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/ EHS, which are subject to watercourses protection in 89 Sites of Community Importance (SCI), which are part of NATURA 2000.
When planning conservation activities or assessing the extent of influence of watercourses fragmentation on the studied species (and especially the subjects of protection in SCI), it is necessary to know the current species distribution in the observed area. That was the reason for conducting a study concerned with specification of the occurrence of subjects of conservation in selected SCI with fish or lampreys as the protected species.
The first part of the project is concerned with the analysis of available data of the protected species occurrence in SCI. The data was obtained from the Species Occurrence Database (NDOP). The evaluation was focused particularly on the coverage of SCI areas with occurrence data, data validity and verification. The results of the analysis led to the selection of areas in which it was necessary to update or complete the data of occurrence of the protected subjects.
The second part of the project was focused on field ichthyological explorations in selected areas in order to verify the occurrence of the subjects of protection. In total, 8 SCI areas were attended. Subsequently, the data from the explorations were recorded in the Species Occurrence Database (NDOP).
Extensive verification of functionality of fish ladders
In 2016, 42 fish ladders funded by the Operational Programme Environment were verified (Figure 1). The difference in evaluator’s results, caused mainly by flow conditions, was minimal, the methodology can therefore be described as objective.
The quality of constructions is variable. Technical fish ladders are mostly in good condition; however, those very close to nature are often affected by construction defects. The main identified issues can occur in the following stages:
- Procedural – unconceptual support of localisation, compromises during the project approval;
- Constructional – character of partitions, longitudinal slope;
- Post-implementation – insufficient care, necessity of repairing.
In larger rivers, construction of a sole fish ladder is mostly insufficient. Ladders must motivate the entire spectrum of species to enter. Enabling the passability of generational fish upstream is more significant than the findability of the bottom entrance to the fish ladder. The significance of the findability of the top entrance is necessary to be evaluated in the context of the downstream permeability of weir. The survey findings will be used for regulation of construction funding from the public sector.
Water management on selected watercourses in SCI
In 2016, staff of Beleco, z. s. (voluntary association), mapped water management in 73 Sites of Community Importance (SCI) (Figure 1). In total, it involved mapping of 3,500 river kilometres. Raw data of water management was gained from the online database Central Register of the Water Authorities (CRVE) operated by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic. The data was consequently verified and completed with the help of other documents from the Water Authorities’ archives in municipalities with extended powers involved in the project.
This activity has resulted in creating a database which will be used for consultation and making analyses appropriate for the purpose of determining the rate of load on the observed sections of watercourses with the current water management.
Mapping survey of the river obstacles completed
At the end of January 2017, one of main period of project Preparation of a Strategy to Mitigate the Effects of Fragmentation of River Networks in the Czech Republic was successfully completed. Starting at September 2016, the regional staffs of NLCA CZ were collecting data about river barriers in watercourses, small hydro power plants, fish ladders and other objects. For the data collection and mapping survey, mobile application for smartphones or tablets were used. Thanks to used technologies, the mapped area covered about 1/7 length of river network in Czech Republic which included nearly 10 000 river profiles. But only ¼ of these profiles were evaluated as passable for fish migration (when optimal conditions occurs). As transverse barriers were considered weirs, dams polders or small hydro power plants (SHPPs) including all of its side effects (e.g. loss of suitable biotopes due to the flooding the area above the dam or the changes of the watercourse characteristics). In total, 761 SHPPs in watercourses were mapped. Fig.1 illustrates the spatial distributions of migration barriers, SHPPs and fish ladders. The goal for next weeks is the intensive work on data evaluation.
The eel with a transmitter from the Odra River was captured in Poland
At the end of June 2016, within the framework of the Norway Grants project “Development of strategy for mitigation of river fragmentation impacts in the hydrological network of the Czech Republic”, eels equipped with transmitters were released in the Odra River. By means of monitoring their natural migration it will be possible to specify the downstream permeability of the river for aquatic animals in our area.
In the middle of January 2017, we received information from Poland that one of the labelled eels was captured by local fishermen near Gryfino village, which is situated a few tens of kilometres before the river’s delta and mouth to the Baltic Sea. This eel specimen was captured on 8 December, 2016, on 719th river kilometre of the Odra River. It was released on 86th river kilometre, which means that it covered the distance of 633 kilometres during its migration. Unfortunately, its journey did not end in the Sargasso Sea, but in the Polish kitchen. Despite that, the result is very useful for us, for it brings information about the possible permeability of the Odra River, not only in the Czech area, but also in Poland, and probably up to the river’s mouth to the sea (this does not however reflect the percentage of success). Furthermore, the news led to the confirmation of the previously known fact of autumn migration of eels to the sea, which was also verified during this project. After a detailed analysis of data, we will be able to specify the duration of the journey and the average speed of the fish.
Project-partners workshop in Norway was succesful
In the second half of October, there was a workshop of Norway project-partners carried out. The organisation of the whole action was mainly managed by the Norwegian Institut of Nature Research (NINA). The representatives of the Czech partners attended the whole 5-days program which included the fieldwork excursions as well.
Within the excursions the migration barriers with the incorporated systems for monitoring of the migration were visited, as well as the fish ladders in the dam bodies, monitoring and marking stations in Hunderfossen and the salmon hatchery at the end. The issue of minimal residual flow rate (resp. derivation of watercourses by SHPP) was discussed in the matter of facts. Also the migrating salmonids (local lake form of brouwn trout) were observed in the place of their spawning grounds.
As the next topic of the workshop, possibilities of the statistical processing and evaluation of collected migration data were discussed, mainly the project activities as eel migration, mortality in turbines, monitoring of the fish ladders functionality and monitoring of the salmon migration possibilities. At the end, the issues and options of mutual partner cooperation and support were concluded.
GIS Esri Conference 2016: the company applications „in field“
In occasion of 25th edition of GIS Esri Conference, there was presented an usage of Esri technologies Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 ArcGIS in the purpose of the data collecting within the EHP project activity “Passportisation of the cross objects in the selected watercourses in the Czech Republic”.
As the firsts in the Czech Republic, the IT staff of NCA CR has taken advantages of both map-based application and form-based aplication and combined them into the user-friendly virtual environment which enables the mobile data collecting and subsequent data sending to NCA CR database.
Launching of the mobile applications
One of the basic activities of the project is the passportisation (monitoring) of the cross objects in the selected watercourses in the Czech Republic. Based on this activity, two closely cooperating mobile applications were created by the ESRI company to help with the data collection.
First “the guiding” application - Collector for ArcGIS (Fig. 1) helps the user to locate the migration barrier and to define its type. Subsequently, user fills in the form with the predefined attributes about found barrier with the second “collecting” application - Survey 123 for ArcGIS (Fig.2 ). This application also allows taking a picture of the object. Filled form with the picture will be sent to the web server. Collected data will be one part of the Fragmentation in River Networks of the Czech Republic Database.
Fish monitoring of the River Ohře in Žatec town
One of the particular activities of Norwegian funds for decreasing of the negative influences of river network fragmentation is monitoring of the fish ladder in the River Ohře near the town Žatec. In the second half of the July 2016, there was the whole spectrum of fish living in this locality marked for this purpose. Fish were equipped by the chips (so called PIT system) which will be scanned when the fish passes the ladder. Also the date, current time a physical parameters (body length, body height, body weight) of the fish swimming across will be noted. These data will be evaluated together with the results of other migrations. Based on the ration of marked and non-marked fish monitored by PIT system, it will be possible to state the total percentage success rate of the functionality of the particular fish ladder.
At the beginning of August 2016, there were caught twenty European eel individuals in the River Ohře in the area between water dam Nechranice and Žatec town. According to external signs (mainly the pigmentation), these eels were ready for migration to reproduce. Captured individuals were equipped by transmitters for tracking their migration through the strategic points of the river network of the Czech Republic within next three years. This will help to assess the ratio of migration permeability of our streams for aquatic organisms, to allocate trouble areas and to set out the remedies options. Similarly as in the River Ohře, more eels will be stocked for the same purpose in the catchment area of the rivers Elbe, Vltava, Berounka and Oder.
Biomonitoring in the Giant Mountain National Park
As a part of the monitoring of the migration permeability of the river network for aquatic organisms in the Giant Mountain National Park (KRNAP), there was realized marking of 24 brown trouts in Úpa River in the second half of July 2016.
Each marked fish was measured and equipped by radio telemetry transmitter which allows tracking the migration of marked fish.
Even the first control by radio receivers within one week after marking showed that the implementation of radio transmitters was successful. Due to this, the collecting of information about migration of monitored brown trout individuals could start.
Consequently with the control, monitoring of the local brown trout population abundance in the section of the River Úpa at the confluence with the Albrechtický Stream and in the stream itself was carried out.
The press release
June, 14th 2016, Prague
Project deals with the improvement of river permeability
There are more than 6000 obstacles higher than 1m which fragment our river network in artificial tracts and which are insurmountable for fish and other animals. The Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic together with the other partners  deal with the project , which aims on charting of these obstacles, monitoring of the fish behaviour and proposing arrangements for making rivers more unobstructed . The main, but not only, reason for this action is that multitude of obstacles in rivers constitutes a problem mainly for fish migrating between fresh and salt water ecosystems. In our area it concerns namely European eel and Atlantic salmon.
For full press release clic HERE.
Monitoring of fish migration is triggered
Recently, T. G. Masaryk Water Research Institute (TGM WRI) received an expected consignment from „Biomark“ company (USA). This consignment comprised an equipment for monitoring of fish migration including components for catching and marking fish, as well as for their subsequent tracking.
The workers from TGM WRI have carried out the field survey of the water dam Střekov (one of five profiles selected for monitoring of migration within the project) involving the existing vertical-slot fish passage located in the dam. At the same time, the selection of preferred suitable options for setup of the mentioned facility, as well as the possible utilization of the special observatory situated in the track of fish ladder, were discussed with the representatives of Povodí Labe state enterprise.
Beyond the technologies mentioned above, TGM WRI project partners have received also the tracking radio communication equipment (Lotek, Canada) for monitoring the downstream migration in our area represented mainly by common eel on its reproductive crossings to Sargasso Sea. The migrating adult individual will carry the transmitter detectable in real time by radio telemetry reception apparatus.
Providing source materials within project implementation
Data collecting is a part of the main activities within the presented project. Based on the analysis of the contribution to fragmentation of river network, there were 47 SCIs selected according to the water management in their area. Currently, there are further data about these areas obtained from the analysis of available materials (from data sources created mainly by VÚV TGM) including data from the areas of interest from the online database Central Register Of the Water Authorities (CRVE) administered by Ministry Of Agriculture. It is considered as necessary to verify this data and to complete it with the information from the water authority decisions about water management in the next already on-going phase.
Data about selected localities are obtained mainly from the water authority decisions of the municipalities with extended powers, 101 municipalities is included. Methodology for structure defining of monitored data and the way of their collecting was created in the period after initiation of the project. Data from the water authorities will be collected in the period from May to September 2016, their implementation into databases and further interpretation in the order of its utilisation by target groups will follow subsequently.
The EHP-CZ02-OV-1-028-2015 Project: Fragmentation of the Landscape
Partial outputs of the project activities focused on amphibians
Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA CR) was in the project responsible for several activities devoted to amphibians. Their main goal was to update our present knowledge of collision points on roads, where mass mortality takes place during migrations of these animals, and also to contribute to practical protection of amphibians at such places. Therefore, especially at the beginning of the project either rescue transfers using temporary barriers or detailed monitoring of dead individuals were carried out at about 30-40 collision localities. Results from both ways of monitoring then produced suggestions for future solutions at each locality. Based on these data and on proposed solutions, 10 collision sections with the highest priority were consequently selected. For these 10 localities, technical-economic feasibility studies with specific and detailed suggestions for long-term solutions were prepared, which we would like to provide to relevant authoritoes for practical use (e.g. in case of planned reconstructions or in order to apply for financila support for implementation from european grants). The database of collision sections for amphibians on roads, managed by NCA CR at its map server (Mapomat) was updated according to the newly collected data as well.
Educational project regarding the issue of landscape fragmentation
Colleagues from our partner institution EVERNIA prepared as part of the project an educational programme in order to give wider public a better insight into the issue of landscape fragmentation. It includes a short educational documentary, graphic and text materials for preparing information panels and a methodological manual for users of these outputs. The programme is suitable for a wide spectrum of educational and popularization organizations, we expect its applpication especially by schools, centers of ecological education or zoological gardens. In case you are interested in the documentary, please contact coordinator of the project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Results from overall evaluation of landscape fragmentation by linear and aerial barriers
A synthesis of partial outputs regarding the development of linear and aerial barriers in the landscape (see previous news) was done as part of the project and thanks to that, a so called fragmentation geometry was created. It summarizes all spatial structures that lower landscape permeability and therefore shows the cumulative effect of linear and aerial barriers. Again, several time horizons were evaluated and the final output is represented by spatial geodatabase of the extent of landscape fragmentation in the given time periods (see Pictures 1 – 3). Colleagues from the partner institution Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening (RILOG) were responsible for this task. They used a method named Effective Mesh Size, representing an approach, in which the extent of fragmentation is evaluated as the likelihood of meeting two organisms randomly placed in space, without being separated by any barriers. The extent of fragmentation was quantified considering the main species of interest in the projct (large mammals) and in a figurative sense it expresses the size of non-fragmented segments of Czech landscape. The smaller tha value, the more the landscape is threatened by fragmentation. The extent of fragmentation was calculated for a square grid where the area of one square is 1 km2. Every square contains unequivocal identification code and a figure about the extent of fragmentation. This square grid in form of a shp file is then possible to use as input layer for other analyses.
Results from analysing barriers in landscape caused by settlement infrastructure
Settlements, paved surfaces and other anthropogenic areas belong to the most significant barrier elements of aerial character in the landscape. Their extent, density and structure basically define the limits of landscape permeability for animals, because in their cases it is not possible to apply compensation measures like for example in the case of linear barriers. Therefore, colleagues from the Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening (RILOG) prepared in frame of the project an analysis of these aerial barriers and based on available mapping resource materials elaborated on the development of settlement infrastructure, industrial complexes and recreational areas during the last 60 years. Results were created for three time periods and unfortunately confirm that the extent of aerial barriers is constantly increasing, and is doing so faster and faster. While the total area of settlements and other anthropogenic surfaces in the 1950s was approximately 3 700 km2 (Picture 1), it was already almost 5 270 km2 in the 1990s (Picture 2) and till 2014 it has increased to 6 250 km2 (Picture 3). When we relate the aerial increase to the length of monitored time period, we find out that the speed of aerial soil claims for these purposes has almost doubled since the 1990s. These partial outputs have been further used during the project while working on other subsequent activities, which we hope will in the future help contribute to decreasing the negative effects of housing development on our fauna.
Results from analyses of linear barriers in landscape caused by transportation infrastructure
Linear transportation constructions belong together with settlement infrastructure to the most significant factors causing landscape fragmentation. Permeability of the landscape for animals is very hindered especially due to these two factors – roads and railways connect settlements and other anthropogenic areas and by doing so create almost impenetrable network of barriers. Analysing the development of linear barriers in our landscape and their current state was therefore an integral part of the project, taken charge of by colleagues from partner organization Transport Research Centre. They created a database of transportation barriers in GIS setting using both historical and current mapping resource materials and aerial photopraphs. The database is prepared for three different time horizons in order to evaluate historical development. Another important output of the project in connection with linear barriers is database of bridge-like objects on highways and directionally divided first class roads, in which the potential of these objects for animal migration is evaluated as well. Both databases have been further used during the project while working on other subsequent activities and they also served as the basis for preparing other materials useful in protecting landscape connectivity: Methodology for identification of potential conflicts between green and transportation infrastructure and Identification and evaluation of conflict points in the crossings between green and transportation infrastructue (including proposal for optimalization of bridge-like objects at such places).
There are short descriptions of both databases with their map projections and both methodological materilas available for download under the links in the text. In case you are interested in primary data sources for the databases, please contact the Brno branch of Transport Research Centre, where both databases will be kept, further updated and supplemented.
Results from monitoring mortality of birds on high-voltage power lines
Mortality of birds on high-voltage power lines is a long-term problem which is given only insufficient attention. It is estimated from practical experience, which species are affected the most by this danger, in which areas and during which time-period, and on which constructions is bird mortality the highest. However, until now data from more extensive and systematic monitoring, which would confirm such empirical knowledge, supplemented it and made it more accurate, were lacking.
Based on our set priorities, we decided to focus our monitoring on areas where the highest mortality of birds on high-voltage power lines could be expected. These were areas with traditionally high densities of raptors during the time after nesting and in winter, which is mostly represented by open agricultural landscape in lower altitudes. A major requirement for the monitoring was just one-time control of the power lines, so it was necessary to ensure that workers do not check the same sections. We used standard mapping network for monitoring organisms in the Czech Republic in order to meet this requirement. The network consists of squares 11,2 x 12 km large.
22 experts participated in data field collection, which took place from July 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016, and overall they checked 6429 km of high-voltage power lines. A total of 1326 dead birds was found during this one-time control of 6 429 km of high-voltage power lines, 1170 (88,24%) died as a result of discharge, 156 (11,76%) as a result of collision with a conductor. 19 individuals were not possible to determine (not even to an order, only strongly damaged fragments of skeletons were found), so these remain unknown. 18 of these birds died as a result of discharge and 1 as a result of collision with a conductor. To sum it up: from 1307 found dead birds that were succesfully determined to a species or a higher taxonomic group such as family or order, in 1152 (88,15%) was the cause of deadth a discharge and in 155 (11,85%) was the cause of death collision with a conductor.
Based on our results, we also tried to roughly estimate the total number of birds yearly killed on power lines and came to the range of 117 800 – 343 300 individuals. Furthermore, different characteristics of individual poles (such as type, material, type of console, protective elements and their condition, etc.) were recorded and then statistically assessed in relation to the gained data about bird mortality, in order to evaluate the effects of these characteristics on safety for birds. All these results should serve in the future in preparing methodological materials for nature conservation authorities and also in cooperation with companies and institutions responsible for developing and using the safest possible types of poles, consoles and other technical elements.
Seminar on the topic of landscape fragmentation from the viewpoint of birds and bats
Another seminar bound to the project „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ took place on Friday, December 2nd in Prague. Presenting speakers included both experts responsible for partial activities in the project and external experts.
The seminar was started by a short presentation that contained basic information about the project and was given by Michaela Sladová, project coordinator from Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic. It was followed by an introductory talk regarding the topic of negative influence of electric lines on the migration and mortality of birds, given by Václav Hlaváč from the same institution.
This very interesting topic was further extended by next speakers, Martin Strnad and Vlasta Škorpíková, who introduced partial outcomes of the project and informed participants about preliminary results of more than a year lasting monitoring activities focused on effects of electric lines on bird mortality. Conclusions from this mapping were viewed by many attendants as quite shocking. One more presentation was given before the lunch break, and that was a very interesting talk on the effects of transparent and reflex fillings on glass surfaces on migration and mortality of birds.
Next speaker was Dušan Romportl, who made participants familiar with the results of a different, but thematically similar project, focused on migratory preferences of birds and bats. Final presentatin brought us all closer to the long-time experience of Station for handicapped animals in Bartošovice. The mostly theoretically oriented block of presentations could in this way be finished by practical examples of both better and worse measures adopted in order to save injured animals.
The interest of public, but also of experts or state institutions was enormous. The capacity of the presentation room was completely filled and we believe that participants of the seminar were leaving satisfied and with lots of new and useful information.
Seminar on the topic of landscape fragmentation from the viewpoint of amphibians and reptiles
Third seminar bound to the project „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ took place on Friday November 15th 2016 in Prague. It introduced related results of the project and also included participation of external expert speakers in the field.
Michaela Sladová, coordinator from Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, first introduced basic information about the implemented project and this presentation was followed by several talks to the topic of amphibian migrations given by Antonín Krása from the same institution.
The morning program was tied to the topic of roads' collision stretches for amphibian migration. The main question asked was what are the best solutions to ensure safe passage for amphibians through such dangerous stretches. Possible answers were offered by representatives from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague (J. Vojar, M. Solský) or from NaturaServis Ltd. (R. Rozínek). Similar topic was discussed also by Mr. Kabelka from the association Wetlands – Protection and Management. The session was then closed by a contribution by Mr. Sedoník from Transport Research Center, which presented an application created to record incidents of vehicle collisions with game.
The afternoon session was devoted to reptiles and to the project outcomes. B. Mikátová introduced to the participants results of a study named „Reptiles and cycle tracks“. The seminar was finished by presented results from monitoring of the dice snake (Natrix tesselata) in the town of Karlštejn, done by ECODIS company.
The interest of public, but also of experts or state institutions was – similarly to the previous seminar – very large. A great atmosphere for discussion was created during the talks and in certain moments we were forced to end the discussions in order to keep reasonable time schedule.
Conference on the topic of landscape fragmentation from the viewpoint of species inhabiting forest ecosystems
A conference about the project „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ took place on November 9th in Brno. Many attractive presentations pointing out the issue of fragmented landscape for forest animals were prepared together with our project partners.
First, coordinator of the project (Mgr. Michaela Sladová) from Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic introduced basic information about the implemented project. She was followed by professor Petr Anděl, who talked about associated general principles and ways of evaluating landscape fragmentation.
First lecture that mentioned new project outputs was presented by representatives of Transport Research Center in Brno – Mgr. Marek Havlíček, Ph.D. and Mgr. Ivo Dostál. Participants were informed about linear migration barriers and about a methodology for identification and evaluation of potential conflicts between green and transport infrastructure. Then RNDr. Dušan Romportl and Mgr. & Ing. Vladimír Zýka from RILOG continued with a presentation focused on areal barriers and extent of landscape fragmentation in the Czech Republic. Also results of habitat models that showed us suitable areas for permanent or temporary occurrence of our target species were introduced as part of this block. However, the attention of most participants was in the first place focused on the final map layer of biotopes of selected specially protected species of large mammals. This „biotope“ is composed of core areas, migration corridors and critical points and it is the main project output of the work of all collaborating institutions.
The final presentation was devoted to the issues of nature protection and urban planning in relation to landscape connectivity – RNDr. Martin Strnad introduced the future use of the new biotope map layer.
Attendance at the international IENE Conference 2016
The 6th international IENE conference on ecology and transportation, titled this time „Integrating Transport Infrastructure with Living Landscapes“ took place August 30th – September 2nd in Lyon, France. It was organized by the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE), which also celebrated 20 years of its existence.
Given the thematic content of the conference and thanks to financial support from the bilateral funds at programme level (iniciative „EHP-CZ02-BFB-1-105-01-2015“), stronger participation by experts currently cooperating on the project „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ was possible. Altogether eight people working on the project took advantage of this opportunity – four representatives of the main beneficiary Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, two representatives of the partner Transport Research Centre and one representative each of partners EVERNIA and RILOG. Participation of the group was active, in all five contributions regarding the ongoing project were presented – three talks and two posters. Some partial outputs of the project were introduced for the first time, for example analysis of linear barriers in Czech landscape and database of migratory objects, development of landscape fragmentation in the Czech Republic since 1926, including prognosis to 2020, or the use of habitat models to create ecological networks and to protect landscape connectivity. Besides that, one of the main outputs of the project – map layer of biotope of selected specially protected species – was already preliminarily introduced, as well as the plan on how to use it in legislation and the expected positive effect on populations of large carnivores and other large mammals in the Czech Republic was emphasized.
Project-related contributions presented at the conference are available for download here:
- Linear road barriers and their permeability for wildlife species in the Czech landscape - poster
- How to save large carnivore populations in Western Carpathians - slideshow
- Designing green infrastructure across heterogenous mountain landscape - slideshow
- Facing the outgoing landscape fragmentation - slideshow
- Development of landscape fragmentation in the Czech Republic - poster
The conference was very helpful also thanks to diverse excursions and many interesting contributions on the topic of landscape fragmentation by the other participants. Some of the new impulses will likely be taken into account in further implementation of the project, or into some methodological materials under preparation. The conference was overall attended by cca 450 experts from 44 different countries, so it of course also offered a great opportunity to establish new working contacts in the issues being solved.
Elk suffered from landscape barriers
A press release was announced on June 14th 2016 in reaction to the death of two elk individuals roaming for several days in the surroundings of Brno. A female with her calf were anesthetized in order to be transported across a very busy road, but they did not wake up afterwards.
Large mammals, especially large carnivores and ungulates, inhabit vast areas and migrate to far places. On their way, they meet many barriers: roads, settlements or industrial zones. The moose near Brno represent a nice illustration. Elk come to our country from Poland, in order to get to the area of Lipno reservoir. But on the way, they have to overcome a lot of obstacles. Let 's hope that the migration corridors being prepared within our project will lead to a state when such a case does not happen again.
Amphibian migration – inspection of permanent barriers
Within our project, sections of permanent barriers built in the past for protection of migrating amphibians were inspected in April 2016. Unfortunately, most of these sections are not in a good condition, the ones in bad condition are prevailing. Most barriers are for example missing guiding walls that direct the animals into underpasses. The underpasses are also very often clogged or damaged. A nice positive exception constitutes a section in Žebětín (Brno city part). Permanent barriers are flawless here and amphibians use them to a large extent. The pond, into which the animals migrate here, is in a very good condition as well, so reproduction can take place successfully. As opposed to many other ponds, carp is not stocked here „head to head“ and thanks to that there is also space for the existence of other threatened and protected species of our fauna.
Meeting of Ecological Olympic Games organizers
On March 5th 2016 our colleague Martin Strnad presented a talk on landscape fragmentation and migration corridors at the headquarters of ČSOP Kněžice in Chaloupky in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. The talk was directed to the organizers of regional rounds of Ecological Olympic Games, who will next year be preparing practical tasks on the topic „Biocorridors and Biobarriers“. Organizers of regional rounds of the games are for example basic organizations of Czech Union for Nature Conservation (ČSOP), clubs of natural scientists, non-profit non-governmental organizations or high schools. Participants were introduced to the issues of landscape fragmentation, and were also informed about partial activities that are being carried out in our project. It was a good opportunity for them to get an overview of this issue both at theoretical and practical level (thanks to some practical demonstrations from the project). The meeting was attended by 15 participants.
Zoological days 2016, České Budějovice
Zoological days took place from February 11th till February 12th in České Budějovice. The conference was attended by over 500 participants, 287 from them were students. It belongs in a long term to the biggest events of this sort in the Czech Republic. It was possible to meet there not only Czech participants, but also colleagues from Slovakia or postgraduate students from different countries. 140 talks and 162 posters were presented at the conference. Among them was also a poster concerning our project. It informed about the activity of mapping the effects of power lines on mortality and migration of birds and introduced its first preliminary results.
Mapping corridors in the region of South Bohemia
Proposal of suitable mitigation measures to reduce negative barrier effects on animal migration is an integral part of planning transport linear constructions. A field survey was carried out in the region of South Bohemia to explore migratory objects such as culverts, elevated roads, underpasses or overpasses near highway D3 in its section Chotoviny – Žíšov. Highway D3 became the first highway in South Bohemian region. Its construction started in the first phase by a bypass around the town Tábor (put into operation in 1991). After a detailed survey, highway D3 turns out to be one of the best passable highways in the Czech Republic. It currently has several migratory objects (overpasses, underpasses), although not all of them represent the best possbile solutions. 28 places were visited overall during the survey. In the section Chotoviny – Žíšov two special overpasses exclusively for animals (so called green bridges) were built that are not combined with a utilitarian road – that is quite uncommon. Another suitable solution allowing animal migration through the highway is also leading the highway on an elevated bridge near Veselí nad Lužnicí (Picture 3). The survey revealed some problematic passes as well. Imperfections were discovered in some underbridge areas which were part of underpasses. Very important for functionality of underpasses is type of substrate, which should ideally be covered with soil. Crushed gravel or stoneware are not suitable surfaces. At the same time, handrails or guardrails should not be placed in front of the entry into the underpass.
Introductory meeting of Wolf and Lynx Patrols
A marathon of introductory training sessions for new guards, who will track large carnivores as part of the so called Lynx and Wolf Patrols, took place at the beginning of new winter season. The Wolf Partol meeting was held from 27th till 29th November in Ludvíkov pod Pradědem. Nearly 50 new volunteers, who will monitor large carnivores this season in the areas of Jeseníky Mts., Rychlebské Mts. and Králický Sněžník, participated in the workshop. Project EHP40 „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ was introduced during the lecture programme and this talk was followed by a presentation about the issues of landscape fragmentation and migration corridors. Saturday was devoted to field patrols and as can bee seen from the pictures, snow conditions were ideal.
Introductory training course for Lynx Patrols took place the following weekend (December 4th – 6th) in Prachatice. Compared to Wolf Patrols in Jeseníky Mts., Lynx Patrols in Bohemian Forest (Šumava) have been going on since 2006. Yet there were about 40 new applicants taking part in the workshop. Again, the project EHP 40 „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ was introduced as part of the workshop, together with a presentation about landscape fragmentation and migration corridors. Although snow conditions were not ideal this time, volunteers also set off into the field.
Let's wish the patrolers and volunteers perfect snow conditions and many carnivore findings in the new coming tracking season.
Detailed monitoring of a migration and collision place of the Dice Snake
Monitoring of the Dice Snake (Natrix tesselata) in Karlštejn town took place in September and October 2015. A numerous population of this snake occurrs on the river Berounka in the surroundings of this town. Road number II/116 separates here the summer habitats of these aquatic snakes (and also of the Natrix natrix) from part of their wintering sites, which are located on the other side of the road. For this reason, seasonal migrations of snakes in spring and autumn with resulting high mortality due to traffic are common here. This section of the road is known mostly for the fact that large numbers of juvenile individuals are killed here. The aim of the study was to provide information on timing and progress of the autumn migration and to identify spots with the highest road mortality. At the same time the study suggests ways of protection for the future, including technical specifications for the solutions.
Mapping of migration corridors in Karlovy Vary region
Mapping of migration corridors in Karlovy Vary region – one of the smaller ones in the Czech Republic – took place last week. Passability of landscape for large carnivores is secured – among others – by so called migration corridors. Whether a migration corridor is being used by animals depends on several factors. Apart from migration barriers comprised by urban areas or traffic infrastructure, permeability of landscape is mostly affected by level of forest cover in the given corridor. Forest cover of the Karlovy Vary region reaches above-average figures compared to other Czech regions – it is reported to be cca 50 %, which is also the reason why this region belongs to migratory significant areas for large mammals. On the other hand, there are also large areas with active mining activities in the region. Structures resulting from mining activities (pits, quarries, dumping sites, etc.) constitute significant barriers in landscape.
Information seminar about the project
An information seminar regarding the project „Complex Approach to the Protection of Fauna of Terrestrial Ecosystems from Landscape Fragmentation in the Czech Republic“ took place on Friday, October 16th.
Project coordinator (Michaela Sladová) first introduced basic information about the project. Then a complex view of landscape fragmentation issue was offered by Petr Anděl from the EVERNIA partner company. His talk included both information about basic approaches to solving connectivity in landscape and specific examples of good and bad praxis.
First lecture from the block focused on landscape fragmentation from the perspective of large mammals was by Ivo Dostál from Transport Reseaarch Center in Brno. He presented information regarding line and surface barriers. This talk was followed up by Dušan Romportl from the The Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening. His presentation dealt with research approaches that try to increase connectivity of landscape for forest species. Results of habitat models that showed us suitable areas for either permanent or temporary occurrence of our species of interest in the Czech Republic were presented in this block as well.
Last presentation was devoted to issues of landscape fragmentation from the perspective of birds. Martin Strnad introduced methodology of mapping the influence of power lines on migration and mortality of birds and at the same time presented preliminary results of this monitoring.
Surveying and Assessing Aboveground Power Lines in Areas without Farming Culture
The surveying of power lines is now underway in areas without farming culture. Experts assess various aspects of the power lines, such as pole material, bracket type and protection features, and found dead or injured birds. They carry out detailed documentation and enter the information into a database. Some use an application for smart phones entitled BIOLOG for the surveying. The survey is being carried out within standardised network survey quadrants throughout the Czech Republic. A total of 5,000 km of power lines is to be surveyed from June 2015 to February 2016.
Surveying of Migration Corridors in the Beskydy Mountains
Surveying of migration corridors for large carnivores was carried out at the end of July in the Beskydy Mountains, Javorníky Mountains and in the areas of the Vsetínské Hills and Vizovické Hills. Especially the Moravskoslezské Beskydy mountain region is the core area in the Czech Republic for the occurrence of large carnivores (the Brown Bear, the Grey Wolf and the Eurasian Lynx). The long-term stability of populations depends on individual animals migrating from Slovakia and Poland. Unfortunately, new migration barriers still occur as new residential estates, roadways and industrial zones are built, reducing landscape connectivity. The populations of all three large carnivores may therefore be endangered in the future especially because individual animals will be unable to meet one another, leading to a reduction in the genetic disposition of juveniles and impairing their viability.
The surveying of migration corridors focused especially on problematic areas, namely the Jablůnkovská brázda formation (boroughs of Jablůnkov and Mosty u Jablůnkova) and the northern foothills of the Moravskoslezske Beskydy between Ticha and Celadna. The migration corridors were surveyed using 1:50000 and 1:25000 maps, and in critical places 1:10000 maps were used. Detailed map layers for migration corridors (biotope of specially protected species) are being prepared for the land survey areas of Jablůnkov, Mosty u Jablůnkova and Kunčice pod Ondřejníkem.
Tutoring of Power Lines Surveyors
An introductory training session for experts who are to survey the effects of various power line types on bird migration and mortality was held in Havlíčkův Brod at the end of June. The surveying should continue until February 2016.
Project partners have been working on their activities in the project since January 2015. CDV has prepared a provisional database of line migration barriers and has gathered information on the points of conflict in the intersection of green and transport infrastructure. VUKOZ has contributed to the preparation of habitat models for the Eurasian Lynx, the Brown Bear and the Grey Wolf. EVERNIA is in charge of a public awareness project aimed at providing information about fragmentation of the landscape in the Czech Republic. Underlying materials have so far been gathered for a short film and for information panels. The Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic together with all the partners participates in the development of migration corridors for the relevant species.
Mapping migration corridors in the Region of Central Bohemia
Field mapping of biotope of specially protected species has recently been done in Central Bohemian region. The field mapping is based on a computer model of spreading of the species of interest. Results of the model are made more accurate above a basic map of the Czech Republic in different scales. Critical points, for example highways, housing development or wide areas without forest represent major barriers in the landscape. Delimitation and description of such critical points are one of the most important goals of the project.
The Central Bohemian landscape can be – from the viewpoint of animal migration – divided into two parts. Less siutable landscape is found in the plains of central (Prague), northern (surroundings of Mělník city) and eastern (surroundings of cities Kolín and Kutná Hora) parts of the Central Bohemian region. It is represented by dense settlement network and extensive blocks of agricultural land. Landscape in the western (Křivoklátsko) and south-western (Brdy) parts of the region looks much better. More indented relief here prevents rapid development of settlements and creates relatively natural landscape segments (PLA Křivoklátsko, PLA Brdy). Connecting these areas with the border areas (Bohemian Forest, Krušné Mts.) is one of the most important functions of the arising biotope map layer in Central Bohemian region. Landscape in the southern part of the region has a specific character. The valleys of Vltava and Sázava rivers create here a typical landscape mosaic of broad water bodies, steep forested slopes and colonies of cottages. Combination of these landscape elements however often produces impassable barriers.
The EHP-CZ02-OV-1-026-2015 Project: Biological Diversity
New Design of the Action Plans Website
As part of realising the project from the EEA grants entitled Measures to Stop the Loss of Biodiversity at the National and Regional Levels, the website for action plans and management plans at the existing URL www.zachranneprogramy.cz has taken on a new shape.
The original graphic design dated back to 2008 and therefore required complete renovation, aimed at providing better orientation for website users (considering also the complexity of its structure) and at adapting to the new trends in communication.
The website contains updated and extended information including texts of the action plans and management plans pertaining to the specific plant and animal species for which an action plan or management plan is being carried out or prepared.
Besides the new graphic design, based on The House of Nature concept, there is also newly added news on the performance of the projects from the EEA grants – the Small Grants Scheme II. for 2009–2014.
Implementation of the Action Plan for the Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum)
The Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum) is one of the species for which we implemented a regional action plan. It has the legal status of a critically endangered species and in the current Red List it is classified as a very endangered species. It is a species with greater requirements for light and a specific water regime. A major part of the last populations of the species is bound to active gravel pits.
In 2015, a survey of the Variegated Horsetail was carried out in the Olomoucky region. In the key site near Moravicanske Lake, its occurrence was proven in new active drift soil where it grows in a rich population on an area of approx. 0.16 ha, now the largest in Central Moravia. However, formerly the richest population of the species in the country, located on older drift soil where it used to number in the thousands of stalks in 2000, perished. A great population was confirmed in Naklo, but on the contrary only one stalk was identified at the site near Nemilany.
To support the endangered species, mowing and removal of tree species was carried out in 2015 at the Moravicanske Lake site. The population at the aforementioned historical site perished because of ruderalisation, growth and the formation of a humus layer. Therefore, an intervention was made this year when turf was removed on approx. 100 sq.m. at this site. In the following years, we will monitor whether the species will return to the renewed biotope.
Removal of Dwarf Pine at Maly Ded
In August through October 2016, the alochthonous population of dwarf pine (Pinus mugo) was removed at Maly Ded from the total area of 12 ha, where the sole dwarf pine growth accounted for 1.79 ha. This measure was implemented mostly to provide support for the unique population of the endemic subspecies of the Sudeten Ringlet (Erebia sudetica sudetica), which occurs here besides other very valuable animal species and plants bound to alpine treeless vegetation.
The dwarf pine is an alochthonous species in the Jeseniky Mountains and its planting in the ridge areas of the mountains turned out to endanger the unique local fauna and flora, some of which have unfortunately already become extinct. Our objective is to secure the survival of the Sudeten Ringlet and increase its populations. The Sudeten Ringlet is an umbrella species, whose protection also covers the needs of many other animal species. The endemic subspecies Erebia sudetica sudetica occurs in the Czech Republic, with occurrence being limited to the Hruby Jesenik. Besides this, many other endangered animal species can be seen in the ridge areas of the Praded National Nature Reserve, the most well-known of which is the local subspecies of the Small Mountain Ringlet (Erebia epiphron silesiana), another unique occurrence in the Jeseniky.
Development of the Grayling Population (Hipparchia semele) in 2016
In 2016, we had the opportunity to evaluate the interventions carried out at the Zlaty kun National Nature Monument to support the populations of the Grayling (Hipparchia semele). Extensive grazing by a mixed goat and sheep herd in the autumn of 2015 and spring of 2016, together with the removal of tree species, led to very favourable development of the population as throughout the entire flying period, i.e., from July to the beginning of September, much greater numbers of the butterfly than in the previous year were observed at the site. It is certainly possible that this was also the favourable effect of the extremely dry summer of 2015; however, given the development in the past few years this was a very positive increase.
To support the results of the regional action plan, we added some other activities, the extent of pasture was increased and interventions in the neighbouring site, Kotyz, were approved. Our objective is to create a metapopulation which would guarantee the long-term survival of this critically endangered species.
Pools to help the Eurasian minnow
The Eurasian minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) is a small species of fish which formerly occupied most watercourses in the Vysočina (Highlands) Region in large numbers. However, over the past decades it has disappeared in several places and in many places it only survives in small, isolated populations. Hence, within the regional action plan for the Eurasian minnow, we proposed creating or restoring pools by watercourses in three places. The work is now in progress and pools were completed in two places in January.
The first site is the Huťský potok brook in the Pelhřimov Region. The population of minnows living here is not very numerous. In the close vicinity of the brook, we have restored minor bodies of water for the minnow – pools, partially connected with the brook’s bed. The system of pools will help minnows to find shelter from predators and in periods of drought. We believe that pools may also help another rare species which still survives in this small forest brook, the brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri).
Similar pools were also created in another place in the Vysočina Region, at the Ranský potok brook near Ždírec nad Doubravou. During last summer’s drought, the Ranský potok brook completely dried up with the exception of several isolated pools so that the minnow nearly become extinct here. The new pools will offer minnows additional shelter to survive periods of extreme drought.
We would like to express our thanks to the “Lesy České republiky” state enterprise and the “Lesní družstvo obcí” forest cooperative based in Přibyslav for their help in enabling us to implement the action.
Interim evaluation of the regional action plan project for the western capercaillie in the Beskydy (Beskid Mountains)
Heretofore, the project focussed on the evaluation of the current condition of the environment in the central part of the Beskydy in terms of the suitability of habitats for the long-term occurrence of western capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus). The number of western capercaillies in the Beskydy has been declining in the long term. The previously estimated population, numbering 500 to 700 birds (the first half of the 20th century), currently does not exceed 30 individuals. Since 2000, approximately 100 occurrences have been recorded at a total of 9 sites. During the field research within the current project, two capercaillie feathers were found in the Konečná and Smrk areas. In late 2015, samples of the feathers were sent for DNA analysis to trace the origin of the current Beskydy population.
The area of interest of the project used for data collection was selected based on the knowledge of the historical distribution of mating areas and also taking into account the altitude gradient and the area’s building development. During summer and autumn 2015, more than 1,200 small areas were explored, distributed in a regular pattern, in which the basic characteristics of the environment were described. Descriptive characteristics were primarily selected using the HSI method, which recently was also applied in the Bohemian Forest and in Slovakia. Currently, the Beskydy results are being compared with results of the studies carried out in the surrounding regions. The most valuable territories demonstrating the highest HSI value will gradually be declared capercaillie areas in which the methods of farming or tourism will be adapted with respect to maintaining good conditions for the capercaillie. Each such capercaillie territory will cover an area of 500 km2 and the first one is already being developed in the Trojačka nature reserve surroundings.
The regional action plan results for the western capercaillie will determine the suitability of the current Beskydy environs for the permanent presence of this critically endangered species. Based on the results of this project, recommendations will be formulated for a reintroduction program of the Lesy ČR s.p. state enterprise during 2016. Birds released from the newly created rearing house near Morávka can find a base in the capercaillie areas.
Report on the monitoring of the Ukrainian brook lamprey and on catching trout at its only site in the Czech Republic
In 2015, monitoring of the residual population of the Ukrainian brook lamprey was carried out at its only site in the entire Czech Republic, which is the Račinka brook near Velké Losiny. The field research included monitoring of the spring reproduction of lampreys (visual search for adult individuals in spawning grounds) and the subsequent control catching of lamprey larvae (ammocoetes) using electrical catching equipment during summer and autumn. Unfortunately, the search for spawning grounds has not brought any positive results. However, the subsequent catching of ammocoetes demonstrated that the spring spawning of lampreys was indeed successful, though probably in only one, well-hidden place at the Račinka brook. Reproduction was confirmed by finding that year’s larvae (0+) in low numbers. In addition, catching for monitoring purposes demonstrated that all age categories of larvae including metamorphosing individuals are represented in the surviving population of lampreys. Lampreys occupy suitable silt areas both in the treated and untreated section of the Račinka brook, over a total stream length of approx. 1.8 km. Currently, the overall size of the residual population of lampreys is estimated at 250–350 ammocoetes.
Another activity performed at the Račinka brook in 2015 consisted in reducing the size of the local population of brown trout, one of the significant predators of lampreys. The trout was caught repeatedly, using electrical catching equipment. In total, over 700 trout individuals sizing from 3 to 25 cm were caught on less than two kilometres of the lower Račinka brook. The number of trout reduced on the Račinka brook section populated by lampreys is hence estimated at more than 90%. In order to maintain the chance of preserving our only population of the Ukrainian brook lamprey, it will be necessary to artificially maintain the number of trout at low values also in the forthcoming years.
Renewal of lawns at the Zlatý kůň national natural heritage site in 2015 successfully completed
Within the regional action plan for the preservation of the grayling (Hipparchia semele) and Libelloides macaronius at the Zlatý kůň site in the Český kras protected landscape area, interventions were made to renew the biotopes of rock and dry lawns. During summer grazing, a herd of 200 sheep and goats cropped 17 hectares of historically developed pasture on the peak and the southern side of Zlatý kůň hill. For the purpose of renewing and maintaining the lawns, the animals also cropped, within forced rotational grazing, places with accumulated old dominant grass and overgrown with shrubs.
After the grazing period, the autumn and winter liquidation of woods of the overgrown former pasture land followed. Much shrubbery was cut out, in particular the blackthorn, common dogwood, privet as well as self-seeded ash and pine trees, on a total area of 5.5 hectares. By means of climbing techniques, self-seeded non-autochthonous black pine trees on the walls of the abandoned quarries were also cut out.
Preliminary results of screening the occurrence of the Eurasian minnow in the Vysočina (Highlands)
The Eurasian minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) used to be a common fish species which however has disappeared from most Vysočina brooks over the past decades. The regional action plan for the Eurasian minnow in the Vysočina region also includes the screening of its historical habitats. We have been screening the occurrence of minnows in almost forty watercourses in the Vysočina region.
During the extremely hot and dry summer, numerous minor water streams proved to be unsuitable for the permanent survival of minnows. In most places, the minnow was abundant mainly in main rivers without entering their minor tributaries. An exception is, for instance, a small population of approximately sixty minnow individuals in the Ranský potok brook at the Ransko national natural heritage site near Ždírec nad Doubravou. Unfortunately, this brook almost dried up during the summer and only several isolated pools have remained. Further down the stream the brook is no more suitable for minnows. Similarly, the Doubravka stream near Vilémov, where hundreds of minnows were found last year, dried up. Exceptionally dry weather could hence be the last blow for the surviving isolated population of minnows on upper streams.
On the other hand, the abundance of minnows in the Želivka river near Želiv and the isolated but strong population in the Šlapanka river near Věžnička north of Jihlava were a pleasant surprise. The minnow survives in the Martinický potok brook in the Pacov region, in relatively surprising numbers and in an apparently unsuitable section of the brook below the pond where they face strong competition with pond fish. Besides minnows, the occurrence of two other particularly protected species has been confirmed in this brook, namely the European bullhead and the European crayfish.
Although the low waters and high temperatures of last summer greatly complicated the screening of the occurrence of minnows, monitoring was successfully completed at most sites. Preliminary results confirm the vulnerability of isolated populations of minnows. Now the data will be processed, reasons why in certain streams the minnow managed to survive while it became extinct in others will be analysed, and actions will be proposed to protect the remaining populations.
Partial results of the action plan to support the Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica plant in the surroundings of Brumov-Bylnice in the White Carpathians
In this year’s growing season, the field research part of the project was carried out, focussed on reviewing historical habitats and on studying vegetation with the occurrence of Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica. Unfortunately, in none of the historical habitats has its occurrence been confirmed. The field research found that the occurrence of this species at the most promising site in the immediate vicinity of the Kaňoury natural heritage site reported in the late 1990s was probably based on erroneously identified wall hawkweed plants (Hieracium murorum), which has developed a distinctively umbelliform inflorescence at this site so that at first sight, it might resemble Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica. Hence, during the research only sites suitable for establishing additional populations of this species were identified and selected near the current localities.
Vegetation with Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica was documented by applying the method of phytocenological images at all five existing Moravian sites. The research determined, for instance, that at most sites Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica is accompanied by Alchemilla suavis, a Carpathian endemic species which can be found in the Czech Republic, just like Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica, only in the broader surroundings of Brumov-Bylnice. The frequent co-existence with the Crepis mollis subsp. succisifolia plant is also remarkable; at certain sites they are also accompanied by the critically endangered Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. sooana.
This year was very favourable for this species’ flowering. Within the regular monitoring, its total Moravian population was counted to be 2,417 flowering shoots in 1,457 clumps while another 684 clumps remained without flowers.
Preliminary Results of Monitoring in the Zlatý kůň National Nature Monument
As part of the regional action plan to preserve the Grayling (Hipparchia semele) and Owlfly Ascalaphid (Libelloides macaronius) in the Zlatý kůň National Nature Monument, located in the Český kras (‘Czech Karst’) Protected Landscape Area, monitoring of butterflies and moths has been underway. The population of the Grayling still numbers around at least tens of individuals, but its size has dropped compared to the past. Despite that, Zlatý kůň and the adjacent Kotýz National Nature Monument are probably the best sites for the species in the Czech Republic. During the monitoring, many other important species were identified. After several years of absence, the Owlfly Ascalaphid (Libelloides macaronius), a critically endangered Neuroptera species, was confirmed. It is the second target species of this regional action plan. Among butterflies, there was an extraordinarily important occurrence of Oberthür's Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus), a species facing extinction which had not been identified at the site since 1980s. The monitoring also confirmed the numerous occurrence of another critically endangered species, Watsonarctia casta. Other important species at the site include the Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon), the Chequered Blue Butterfly (Scolitantides orion), Meleager’s Blue (Polyommatus daphnis) and the Blue Spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini).
Surprisingly, the Setina roscida moth, formerly in a relatively numerous population at the site, was not identified this year. It seems that the current population sizes of many species were adversely affected by the combination of an unusually mild winter, followed by a cold and rainy spring and then extreme heatwaves in July and August. However, the monitoring confirmed the extraordinary significance of the site for endangered species of grass steppe insects, undoubtedly one of the most valuable steppe sites which remain in the Czech Republic. Autumn pasture was carried out in the site which should support the endangered species. The planned reduction in self-seeding tree species is underway, and the next pasture is planned for spring 2016. It will be very interesting to monitor the effects of these measures on the quantity of the target species of insects in the following years.
The SGSII-2 Project: Freshwater Pearl Mussel – Monitoring and Breeding, the Aš Region
The end of our project comes at the end of June. It is a good opportunity for a minor evaluation.
Difficulties which had to be resolved
- Project delayed by many months
- Dry hot summer which confused (not only) the Freshwater Pearl Mussel
- Extreme mortality of the young Mussels in breeding
- Many other problems and issues
- Several thousand young mussels which are being taken care of by good people
- Results of bioindication tests that confirm the suitability of management of the meadow biotopes
- Results of monitoring of permanent areas where some reduction in Pearl Mussel was seen again
- Two meetings with experts, exchange of experience and coordination
- A good feeling
And that’s a lot!
Results of the Breeding of Freshwater Pearl Mussel
One winter breed was anticipated in the supported project. We assumed that in optimum conditions it would give some 5000 young mussels. However, despite adhering to all the well-proven procedures, things soon turned out differently. Problems appeared already when trying to obtain the glochidia, as they were released by female individuals too soon and were immature. Eventually, we obtained them. Invading trout with the glochidia, their keeping and catching was seemingly fine, there were enough glochidia in the fish gills. However, when young Mussels were released, extreme mortality was seen in them. The reason was probably the extremely hot dry summer which had an adverse effect on the development of the glochidia. Part of the spring breed, much more successful, was therefore also included in the project. Eventually, this may have given some 4 thousand Pearl Mussels. Those from the winter breed were placed in rearing chambers in the brook, while those from the spring breed will still have to be cared for for a few months.
Results of bio-indications in the Rokytnice catchment area
During 2015, bio-indications were performed in several watercourses in the Rokytnice catchment area by means of which their quality is determined with respect to the survival and growth of freshwater pearl mussels (FWPM). Juvenile pearl mussels are placed on special plates and measured under a microscope before the season starts and after it terminates; in this way, their relative growth as well as mortality are hence measured. The plates were deposited at eight sites in five watercourses for the whole season. Last year was affected to a considerable extent by extreme weather conditions when during summer there was no precipitation for six weeks, as a consequence of which the flow rate of the Bystřina stream decreased and a part of it dried up. This was one of the reasons for the lower survival and growth rates in certain watercourses compared to previous years.
Care of plates with freshwater pearl mussels in the Aš region watercourses
Once the “laboratory” stage of breeding has been completed and pearl mussels are big enough, they are moved using special plates back to their original watercourses in the Aš region. These plates must be checked and cleaned on a regular basis. In brooks, sediments, sprigs and leaves which gradually block the plates and must be removed are washed off. Checks are done once or twice a month and after higher flow rate incidents. In winter, it is also necessary to check the watercourse for frazil ice as the plates could freeze. Within the project, we care for the plates bearing freshwater pearl mussels (FWPM) from last year’s breeding; this year’s pearl mussels will be placed into watercourses in spring.
Juvenile pearl mussels leave trout
In the provisional asylum of the South Bohemian nursery, juvenile pearl mussels from the Aš region started to fall out from trout which had hosted them for over two months. Subsequently, a difficult period starts for pearl mussels. The pearl mussels that fall out are picked every day; being very inconspicuous and tiny (only approx. 0.3 mm), they are retrieved from boxes in which the trout are placed by filtering through a fine sieve. The material thus obtained must first be sorted to avoid infections. Especially after this year’s hot summer and autumn, there is a high risk of parasitic diseases which could spoil the whole breeding. Subsequently, juvenile pearl mussels are placed in boxes in which they are fed a high quality detritus (minor organic particles) obtained from selected headwater areas. It is necessary, almost daily, to clean the boxes and sort out the pearl mussels, again eliminating any dead individuals and parasites. Caring for juvenile pearl mussels is hence very time-consuming and requires extensive experience. Before they can be placed back in the Aš region watercourses, though so far only on breeding plates, pearl mussels must grow a bit and become stronger so that they have a chance of surviving in the difficult conditions.
What the “project” trout do
At the end of August, we invaded several tenths of the Aš region trout with pearl mussel larvae – glochidia. The trout were then moved to a closed race where in a natural habitat they remained for several weeks while the glochidia were developing on their gills. In October, we caught the trout again, checked the number and condition of the pearl mussels on their gills, and transferred those fish with a sufficient number of well-developing individuals to the South Bohemian hatchery. In the hatchery, trout are placed individually in boxes and fed. At the same time, temperature conditions are gradually adapted which induce metamorphosis, i.e., the transformation of glochidia into juvenile FWPM, already resembling adult individuals. Once the transformation has been completed, juvenile pearl mussels fall out of the gills and enter another stage of their development and hence of our breeding.
Presentation of the project at a Czech-German seminar
On 5–6 October 2015, the fourteenth meeting of the basic group focussing on the preservation of the FWPM and the thick-shelled river mussel took place on Czech-German border bodies of water. This time the meeting was hosted by the Czech Republic. On Monday, we invited guests from Bavaria and Saxony as well as Czech representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, the Karlovy Vary region, the “Povodí Ohře” state enterprise, the T.G. Masaryk Water Research Institute as well as external collaborators on a field trip, including a visit to the places where Czech activities related to the FWPM have been implemented. The Czech concept of care and the actions in progress were presented, which this year are supported, to a great extent, by 2009–2014 EEA grants and by the Ministry of the Environment.
On Tuesday, we used the perfect facilities of the Regional Office of the Slavkovský les Protected Landscape Area Administration in Mariánské Lázně and the meeting continued with a discussion. The aims of both the already running and planned projects were presented. The consequences of this year’s extremely dry weather, which had a negative impact on the FWPM population, were discussed. The Bavarian and Saxon representatives presented news about the pearl mussel from their territory. The next meeting will be organised in Bavaria in the forthcoming year.
Breeding of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel in the Aš Region
This year’s hot summer has affected not only people, but also the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. We had been carefully monitoring the weather since the spring started, especially as regards the temperature, so that we could identify the beginning of the reproduction period of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel in watercourses in the Aš region.
From early August we regularly checked the colonies of the species. A careful approach was necessary, as the glochidia (FWPM larvae) began to release much earlier than usual. Unfortunately, microscope checks showed that they are not mature enough and cannot attach to trout gills. Therefore, there was the risk that we wouldn’t be able to obtain enough high-quality glochidia for the rearing, and that this year’s season would end unsatisfactorily for both us and the Pearl Mussels. We checked the maturity of the glochidia every other day in various parts of the catchment area and hoped that not all the released glochidia would be immature in the end.
In the meantime, juvenile trout captured in the local watercourses were prepared in a field station. Eventually, in mid-August we succeeded in obtaining enough suitable glochidia and began infecting, i.e., attachment of the larvae to trout. This was carried out in the field station in As. We put glochidia and trout for a short while in a trough and mixed them so that the glochidia could make their way into the fish gills. A random check indicates that they have made it. The trout are now to be transferred to the millrace, where they are to stay for several months. Then we will see if the action was a success.
Why We Help the Freshwater Pearl Mussel with Reproduction
Hundreds of Freshwater Pearl Mussels can still be found in watercourses in the Aš region, and everything would therefore seem to be alright. But that is not the case. There were numerous colonies at the beginning of the 1990s, with tens of thousands of this critically endangered species. This means a major decline. Moreover, the current colony of Freshwater Pearl Mussels is ageing.
The reason is obvious: the quality of the environment in the Aš region has been low for a long time, and while adult Freshwater Pearl Mussels are able to survive, the juveniles are more demanding as regards the environment, and they do not reproduce naturally. Especially temperature is the critical factor and affects both the parasitic stage of the larvae, the glochidia, the trout, and the growth of juvenile Freshwater Pearl Mussels. Certainly there must be enough trout, which are the only host species in our country. Another factor is that the local watercourses do not provide enough plant debris, the food for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. On top of that, the pH is too low and the water is contaminated. This means that this population would not survive long without assistance. Improving the quality of the environment is the key task. For more about that, see www.chranimeperlorodku.cz. Reproduction must at the same time also be assisted, which features semi-natural breeding that can help to overcome the current critical period.
The SGSII-3 Project: the Scarse Fritillary
Monitoring of the Scarce Fritillary (Euphydryas maturna)
As part of the project, we monitored both the current occurrence of the Scarce Fritillary as well as potential sites suitable for its repatriation. The monitoring of populations in Domanovicky les has shown that this is a suitable area where the species prospers. We also surveyed sites which could suit the species in the future and where new populations could be established. These include several sites in the Polabi area and in South Moravia. A vegetation survey was also made in Domanovicky les. We were interested in finding out whether the properties of the vegetation around ash trees influence the lays. No simple or apparent relation was found. However, we are still working with the results and we might discover some influence of the vegetation, and adjust the management of the sites where the Scarce Fritillary occurs accordingly.
Self-seeded trees were cut out at the site of occurrence of the scarce fritillary
An indispensable part of the action plan for the scarce fritillary is the care for areas of caterpillar fattening. In selected areas (the most important ones in terms of the whole population), mixed-in trees as well as certain ashes if they create thick growth must be cut out regularly, thus allowing more sunlight into the whole area. Within the project, we managed to partially thin the area past the gamekeeper’s lodge in the “Dománovický les” forest locality in the Kolín region. We also made similar interventions in several other areas where we focussed, for instance, on the undesirable rejuvenation of the northern red oak (see the photo).
The SGSII-4 Project: Freshwater Pearl Mussel – Publicity
Set out to seek the cache
We have prepared an adventure for Geocaching fans involving seeking a cache, whose Latin name will suggest (for instance, with the help of Google) that the freshwater pearl mussel (FWPM) is involved.
Go near the site of occurrence of this rare animal and besides knowledge, soak up the South Bohemian atmosphere in one of the quietest and most harmonic corners of the Czech Republic.
We look for “margaritifera”.
Article in the “Fórum ochrany přírody” magazine
In this year’s first edition of the “Fórum ochrany přírody” magazine, an article was published regarding the preservation of the freshwater pearl mussel and its biotope – not least rare oligotrophic catchment areas, and also regarding a project which explains the protection of this significant phenomenon to the public. Read what is contained in the pessimistically entitled “Freshwater pearl mussel: still on the decline” which can be viewed HERE (czech version).
Sociological survey in the catchment areas of the Malše and Blanice rivers in South Bohemia
A sociological survey is under way organised by the Beleco company within the project “Promoting Preservation of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel and its Habitat”. The objective of this project is to inform the public, and in particular the inhabitants of the most important FWPM catchment areas (the Malše and Blanice rivers) about the FWPM biology and action plan in the Czech Republic. A specialized sociological survey is being conducted by an independent sociologist and all the results are fully anonymous. The results of the sociological study will serve as the basis for managing the action plan and implementing the related measures. The results of the sociological study will be published in April and presented to the public in the regions where people live and farm at sites of occurrence of the FWPM, i.e., in the core areas of the FWPM South Bohemian biotopes.
Lectures for schools in the FWPM region
Beleco z.s. has prepared a lecture for schools in the South Bohemian region. The lecture focuses on presenting the FWPM as a unique animal which represents an umbrella species for the conservation of oligotrophic watercourses and can be found in South Bohemia.
Lectures have already been successfully completed at the Tábor secondary grammar school and at the Husinec elementary school. More lectures are under preparation and will be given in April, after which the project is planned to end. Hence, it is indeed the last opportunity to show your interest in these lectures. Please do not hesitate and contact email@example.com.
The lecture is organised within the project entitled “Promoting Preservation of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel and its Habitat” financed by 2009–2014 EEA grants and by the Ministry of the Environment, and will be provided free of charge.
Freshwater Pearl Mussel Indicates Clean Water
“How many people know that the Freswater Pearl Mussel also lives in Czech rivers and brooks?” People often think that the Freshwater Pearl Mussel has disappeared from the Czech countryside. In fact, the Czech populations are quite important in the Central European context. “We believe that there should be public interest in the protection of water and its sources, i.e., the protecting the quality of the biotope where the Freshwater Pearl Mussel lives as an umbrella species also protects several other rare species which live in the same environment. Even though freshwater pearls are not as valued as sea pearls, they still hold great value. What can be more precious than clean water?”
More about the famous history of pearls, the current condition of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel and the ongoing project for promoting preservation of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel can be found in Učitelské noviny 23/2015, in an article entitled “The Riches of a Mollusc that Depends on Drinking Water” by J. Stefflova. The article can also be obtained in electronic form from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SGSII-8 Project: The FWPM - Blanice River and Zlatý potok
Game shares in food development for juvenile freshwater pearl mussels (FWPM)
Within MGSII-8, areas near ditch no. 9 at the Čapí mokřiny site were checked. Considering the fact that the ditches are situated in a secluded place, this site is often visited by game. In particular, wild boar turn over the soil near and directly in the ditches which results in water overflowing the bed and flowing back to the meandering ditch further downstream. Secondary helocrenes are hence created with a favourable impact on food production. Development will continue to be monitored and rectified by minor interventions, if necessary.
Checking the ditches confirmed they are working well
While checking the renewed tributaries in the valley of the Spálenecký potok brook during the pre-spring thaw, it was confirmed that the ditches are working well. They are fully filled with water and channel water from headwater areas to the main stream.
Testing the carrying capacity of detritus
By repeatedly testing detritus sampled from the newly created special food element, under optimal temperature conditions, its good carrying capacity for juvenile FWPM was demonstrated (the growth in the shell’s length is up to 150 µm in 10 days). Considering this fact, the lower level of shallow circulation groundwater and the drying up of suitable headwater areas in the catchment, this detritus is currently being used for semi-natural breeding of the FWPM.
Groundwater condition has improved thanks to thaw and precipitation
Following the thaw and more substantial precipitation, the condition of shallow circulation groundwater has slightly improved. As a consequence, all the nine renewed tributaries were filled with water. “Cosmetic” works were carried out which consisted in cleaning the ditches of deposited leaves.
Working to optimise the function of temporary effusion areas
Within MGSII-8, the project partner has completed works to optimise the function of temporary effusion areas at the Luční potok brook. According to the project, retarding vegetation elements were placed in the effusion area. Improved sedimentation of fine floating debris is expected.
The work carried out within MGSII-8 was checked by the authorised employees of the Ministry of the Environment.
When comparing the period important for vegetation from early April to late October in the years 1947 and 2015, the year 2015 saw more abundant precipitation in the spring and autumn months of April, May, September and October, while in the summer months of June, July and August precipitation was distinctly lower compared to the same period of the catastrophically dry 1947. Unfortunately, this contributed to the drying up of 50% of the newly created tributaries.
The main works have been completed to optimise the function of temporary effusion areas at the Luční potok brook. Based on the monitoring of flood waves and their destructive impacts on the already created structures, the existing retarding elements were modified within the optimisation. By observing what happens during flood waves, additional elements have been introduced to direct flood water to the brook’s alluvial plain (50 metres of stone current deflectors). Additional elements for slowing down the water flow and for the sedimentation of erosion floating debris were created (20 metres of transverse stone walls). Considering the dry weather, vegetation elements formed by willow tree trunks have not yet been used. These works also required the use of a Caterpillar for transporting material.
Man proposes, nature disposes...
In light of the abnormal drought, the growth of riverside vegetation near the new ditches is very slow. Moreover, we shall most likely not see any impact on the food supply for the FWPM biotope in this growing season.
Work on the headwater area ditches continued also in summer
From June to September, the selected nine headwater areas were reconnected with the Luční potok and Spálenecký potok brooks, over the entire length of 4,250 metres. During the works, no heavy machinery was used with respect to the local plant and animal communities. Areas on which minor drainage capillaries were shaped were cleared with a brush cutter, on the entire area of 4.25 hectares. Ditches with a profile of 20*20 cm were formed using a spade after determining their route. The extracted turf was used to create compost beds, in compliance with the action plan methodology. Such compost beds were then covered by cut grass biomass. Considering the fact that the new ditches are surrounded by waterlogged and articulated terrain, a Caterpillar had to be used to transport material. Thanks to continuous consultation with the supplier of works in coordination with the results of regular inspections by biological supervisors, no negative impact on the surrounding biotopes has been noted. The expected effect is further decomposition and micro-bacterial recovery of detritus in the warm waters of the headwater area ditch which serves as food for the FWPM.
Almost 2 km of Warmup and Food Rills Were Built for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel
An introductory seminar was held at the headquarters of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic in mid-March, dedicated to projects pertaining to the conservation of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. The project, which focuses on the revitalisation of the catchment area where the Pearl Mussel occurs, was fully launched at the beginning of June. Sites where the relevant measures were planned were first opened up by removing some self-seeding tree species. This measure was necessary for the water in the soil to warm up sufficiently during the summer and allow the reproduction of the Pearl Mussel. Almost two kilometres of warmup and food rills were then built in these opened-up sites, approximately one-half of the planned measures. Besides warmed-up water, these rills also bring detritus to the main stream, which is produced in the meadows via the decomposition of dead plants and small animals, and is the main food for the Pearl Mussel. To boost the production of suitable detritus, composts were established around the rills, from which the treated biomass is to be applied directly to the meadows after some time. Similar rills have also been dug in the Pearl Mussel field station, where they are to have the same function, however, the water will not reach the main stream from the rills but will be directed via a special small pool, restored as part of the project, where the Pearl Mussel which is to be used in bio-indications is to be placed.
The SGSII-9 Project: The Marsh Angelica
The anticipated objectives and products were fulfilled and the project was officially closed on 31/3/2017. A summary of the revised text of the action plan for Marsh Angelica is available for download here.
As part of the project, the Nature Conservation Agency would like to invite you to the closing seminar on this project entitled Revision of the Action Plan for the Marsh Angelica (Angelica palustris), to be held on Monday 20 March 2017 at the Litovelske Pomoravi House of Nature.
6th year of Thematic meeting regarding the study of our rare and endangered flora species
During the days of April 7th – 9th 2016, the 6th year of Thematic meeting regarding the study of our rare and endangered flora species took place in Sedmihorky near Karlovice in Protected Landscape Area Český ráj. Participants of the meeting introduced their projects that are focused on different thematic areas, such as research of rare species, management issues of rare species and their localities or action plans. Problems that are currently being dealt with within the action plan for the Marsh Angelica were presented as well, together with measures proposed to improve the population status within the action plan revision.
Is the marsh angelica at the Hrdibořické rybníky national natural heritage site endangered by the beaver?
In 2014, the activity of the Eurasian beaver at the Hrdibořické rybníky site resulted in the extreme waterlogging of the site and in the flooding of areas where the self-sustaining population of the marsh angelica is found. These events had a negative impact on the marsh angelica population and during the 2014 monitoring only 30 individuals were found at the site.
The beaver dam which retained water and caused flooding of the site at the place of occurrence of the marsh angelica was not restored in 2015. Beaver activities were concentrated on the southern part of the territory and had no distinctive impact on the water system of the area occupied by the marsh angelica population. These areas were covered by the horsetail and the hemp agrimony.
During the September monitoring, no marsh angelica plants were found at the site. Neither was the presence of seedlings confirmed, which were noticed during the July visit to the site. The seedlings were probably liquidated by molluscs as it is known that especially the Spanish slug likes to feed on the marsh angelica.
In order to ensure survival of the Marsh Angelica at the locality Hrdibořické rybníky (ponds), we are within the project „Revision of the Action Plan for the Marsh Angelica (Angelica palustris)“ searching for solutions to the above mentioned problems that will be incorporated into the revised text of the action plan.
Returning the marsh angelica to the Jezero natural heritage site
During a meeting at the Regional Authority of the South-Moravian Region which took place early in July, the possibility of returning the marsh angelica to the historical habitat of the Jezero natural heritage site near Vacenovice was discussed with the Regional Authority’s representatives. This critically endangered plant was found here for the last time in the mid-1900s.
The Jezero natural heritage site is the only historical habitat of the marsh angelica suitable for repatriation without any interventions being necessary. This site has a favourable water system and well-preserved boggy vegetation. Repatriation would be performed by large-area sowing of seeds in suitable places and hence, the site would not be affected much.
The participants in the meeting agreed that repatriation of the marsh angelica in the Jezero natural heritage site would be included in the revised action plan. If this document is approved next year, repatriation could start from 2017.
Opening seminar on the marsh angelica project
In the first half of June, a seminar focussing on the revision of the action plan for the marsh angelica was organised in the Dům přírody nature centre of the Litovelské Pomoraví protected landscape area. Besides project activities, the seminar presented sites where activities within the action plan take place as well as problems currently being encountered at such sites.
The SGSII-10 Project: The Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica Plant
The project is finishing
Last project activities according to the Action plan for Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica in the Czech Republic were carried out during June 2016 at two localities on Českomoravská Highlands. Locality "Číchov", in front of the railway station, was mown and raked up. Locality in PP (Nature Monument) Jersínská stráň was grazed and ungrazed parts were mowed. Both localities are now prepared for the comming season, which culminates from August till October in accordance with flowering of the plants.
Results of monitoring and management of Bohemian Early Gentian localities in 2015
Census of flowering Bohemian Early Gentian individuals in the fall of 2015 showed a strong decline in overall specimen numbers basically at all localities, which was evidently caused by substantial summer drought lasting from July till August 2015. Numbers were extremely low compared to previous years (see Graph) and approximately matched the status from years 2003 and 2004, which were also affected by distinct drought. It is, however, after this experience possible to expect above average numbers of flowering individuals in the following season 2017 – this phenomenon is related to the two-year life cycle of the Bohemian Early Gentian and at the same time to the release of space for germination after the dry time period.
Among outcomes of the monitoring are also an overview of the status of localities and a summary of activities implemented to support Bohemian Early Gentian population. From all 74 monitored localities of the species were 51 of them mowed, 15 were at least partly grazed, at 3 of them woody plants and bush were eliminated and at 40 of them old vegetation including mosses was dug out or soil surface and vegetation was disturbed. From the total number of monitored localities, no further management is currently proposed for 12 of them (none of them belongs to priority localities from the point of view of the Action Plan).
Attempts to repatriate Bohemian Early Gentian to a historical locality of the species near village Boletice (locality „Boletice, hill Olymp“) started in 2012 and since then monitoring and refilling of seed bank by further sowing are done every year.
In the 2015 season during the last inspection of experimental plots at the end of September, only a few individuals from that year corresponding to Bohemian Early Gentian were found, located on a north-oriented sowing plot. No individuals of the species were found at the other plots.
Sowing of seeds was done again in November 2015, but due to extreme progress of weather in the summer and low number of flowering individuals in the source population „Podvoří, Volský hill“, the seeds were taken from an alternative locality „Chvalšiny, north hillside“.
Support of current populations
Support of current populations, which consisted of manual disturbance of the surroundings of fertile plants and collection and sowing of seeds at the same place, was performed in the second half of November 2015. Because of the absence of fertile individuals at locality „Číchov, stráň u zastávky“, the support was done at an alternative locality „Na Jalovci Nature Monument“, where fertile plants were present.
Management of localities
All planned activities for ensuring suitable status of the species' localities were implemented during the second half of the year at overall 7 localities that are included in the project. The work covered second mowing or pasture and then at most localities also digging out old vegetation, loosening the moss layer and invilvement of vegetation. Activities were implemented at these localities: Hroby Nature Monument, Hořečky Nature Reserve, Vyšenské kopce National Nature Reserve, Jersínská stráň Nature Monument, Kamenný vrch Nature Monument, Na Jalovci Nature Monument a „Číchov, site on the slope near the railway station“.
Looking back at the excursion to trace the Gentianella praecox bohemica
On Saturday 19 September, 2015, we organised a trip to trace the Gentianella praecox bohemica at the Hroby Nature Monument site. Despite the extremely dry summer, approximately 300 specimens with violet flowers could be found in the farm-track of a former path. However, compared to previous years, this was rather a below-average number. The participants were informed about the species biology, its range as well as about the principles of management of the site, which are the basis of the action plan for this species in the Czech Republic.
Excursion to the Hroby Nature Monument
The Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic and the ZO CSOP Silvatica organisation are holding an excursion to the Hroby Nature Monument on Saturday 19 September 2015 as part of this project. The excursion will be guided by botanist RNDr. Jiri Brabec, who will introduce the Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica plant in the Hroby NM, the history of the site, its management and the results of counting the blooming plants of this species.
Management before the Vegetation Season of the Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica Plant
The project, focusing on the performance of the action plan for the Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica Plant in the Czech Republic, has already fulfilled several of the planned activities. The introductory informational seminar presented the results of the 2014 monitoring for experts, as well as the sites which are included in the project. Before the vegetation season, initial works were done, namely the removal of decomposed plant material, sod disturbance and the removal of bushes. In mid-June, pasture or the first mowing was organised at the sites. It will now take some time before we see the species in bloom. Further work is planned in the autumn when blooming has finished and the seeds are produced.
The SGSII-11 Project: The Plant Species Littorella uniflora, Hypochaeris glabra and Sedum villosum
A booklet about Litorella uniflora was published
The booklet summarizes findings regarding the biology and ecology of the critically endangered species Litorella uniflora. It makes readers familiar with the current and historical distribution of this plant and with the causes of its threat. Final pages then bring recommendations on how to manage bodies of water, so that it keeps suitable conditions for the growth of Litorella uniflora, including exmaples of good practice from the waterworks reservoir Láz.
Repeated monitoring of populations of all three species going on
We repeat population monitoring during this year's growing season. Last season was extremely dry and therefore it will be helpful to also gain data from this year, which had a relatively normal progress of weather. For example Sedum villosum occurs at two localities in Bohemian Forest in similar numbers as last year. A new locality of Hypochaeris glabra has been discovered with several tens of these plants.
Historical distribution of Littorella uniflora
One of the outputs of the project are also maps of historical distribution of Littorella uniflora. They are put together based on data from herbariums and the Information system of Nature Conservation. The greatest number of Littorella uniflora localities was recorded in the years 1901-1959. Their number significantly declined in the following time period: from 58 to 15 localities. Current state is only 9 localities. The center of Littorella uniflora occurrence in the Czech Republic has been since the first historical records till now South Bohemia.
Project results summarized at a seminar
Within regular lectures given by the South Bohemian offices of the Czech Botanical Society, the project’s second informational seminar was organised. On Saturday 23 January, 2016, more than 20 persons interested in the issues of the critically endangered species Littorella uniflora, Sedum villosum and Hypochaeris glabra met in the South Bohemian Museum in České Budějovice. The results of the monitoring, the historical habitat survey and the experiments carried out were presented for each species. These species were not detected in their historical habitats any more but some may be suitable for reintroduction (in the case of Littorella uniflora or Sedum villosum). Possible reintroduction was discussed, with the conclusion that the priority is to preserve the species population and to possibly strengthen it at its existing sites. With a view to preserving the hypochaeris glabra and ecologically similar annual species, the preservation (or creation, if relevant) of suitable habitats in the countryside seems to be crucial.
Quo vadis Sedum vilosum?
The research focussing on Sedum villosum carried out within the project was presented at a conference entitled Ecology 2015. It was the fifth conference of the Czech Society for Ecology, and took place between 23 and 25 October 2015 in České Budějovice. The species-related issues were presented on a poster. The poster summarised information about the historical habitats of the species, the current sites and the size of populations, the species’ ecology, the reasons why it is endangered and preservation options.
Detailed mapping of Littorella uniflora populations in the Czech Republic
All recent localities of Littorella uniflora in the Czech Republic were visited during the growing season. They include ponds: Osika, Staňkovský, Hejtman, Králek, Rytíř, Nový near Kunžak, Horní Mrzatec, and waterworks reservoirs Karhov near Studené and Láz. Populations of Littorella uniflora at these localities were mapped in detail, overall abundance was estimated and phytocenological relevés of its vegetation were taken. The most abundant population in the Czech Republic occurs on the shores of the reservoir Láz in the region of Příbram. There were hundreds of thousands of plants growing, both on the shore and submerged in water. No sign of the species was found at localities Hejtman and Karhov, despite intensive field research. Besides the monitoring, samples of water were also taken and pH, temperature, conductivity and transparency of water were measured. Such data will serve to better specify environmental conditions of Littorella uniflora within the Czech Republic and also to select suitable localities for potential reintroduction.
Monitoring of Sedum villosum finished
The monitoring was done at all currently known localities of Sedum villosum occurrence. That means four localities, from which two are located in Bohemian Forest, one in the Ore Mountains and one in the district of Tábor. The species was found at all localities and population abundance ranged between hundreds and lower thousands of plants. The most abundant and most vital population occurs in National Nature Reserve Božídarské rašeliniště (Božídarské peat bog). Phytocenological relevés were created, samples of soil and water taken and pH and water conductivity measured at all localities. Also the numbers of fertile and sterile individuals were counted.
Monitoring confirmed Hypochaeris glabra occurrence at last two localities in the Czech Republic
The only two known localities of Hypochaeris glabra were visited within the project. Both are located in the town Žíteč near Chlum u Třeboně – one directly in the village square and the other at the periphery of the town. The species was confirmed at both localities, but in very low numbers. Only eight plants were found overall. The plants growing at the village square were damaged by lawn mowing, however, they were flowering thanks to that even in the middle of the dry summer. Plants growing in rock garden at the periphery of the town were on the other hand already dried up. In order to get more information about the type of biotope the plant grows in, phytocenological relevés were recorded and soil samples taken from the localities.
The Introductory Seminar Presented the Species and the Scope of Research
A seminar with the same title as the project was held at the beginning of June at the Mohelsky mlyn centre, near Mohelno.
The seminar participants were given basic information about the project, which was followed by a presentation of the relevant species. Mgr. Andrea Kucerova, Ph.D., from the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Trebon, presented Littorella uniflora and the Hairy Stonecrop (Sedum villosum), and also informed about the already launched experiments. With Littorella uniflora, this involves the monitoring of bloom, fertility and germination capacity of seeds in relation to the re-emergence of the plant, and with the Hairy Stonecrop the subject of monitoring is, for instance, the survival rate of established plants of two sizes with varying ground water levels and submersion. The less known species Hypochaeris glabra was presented by Mgr. Barbora Cepelova of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, who also mentioned the difficulties in determining the species and the key features distinguishing it from a common species, Hypochaeris radicata.
The SGSII-17 Project: The Lilyleaf Ladybells
The Closing Seminar on the Project Was Held
Results of individual activities carried out as part of the project were presented at the seminar, together with the objectives and measures of the action plan. Many participants of the seminar were pro-actively involved in the conservation of the Lilyleaf Ladybells, thanks to which there was a highly useful discussion on the suitable measures within the action plan. The realisation of some measures, such as game-proof fences and the liquidation of expansive species, was then shown to the participants in the nearby Vrazba site.
A Seminar on the Action Plan for the Lilyleaf Ladybells (Adenophora liliifolia)
We would like to invite you to a seminar entitled Action Plan for the Lilyleaf Ladybells (Adenophora liliifolia), to be held on 25/04/2017 at 10am at the Campus of the University Hradec Kralove, Building S – Faculty of Science. The seminar aims to present new findings on the species – monitoring results, germination capacity tests, genetic variability study, in vitro rescue cultivation, together with the contents of the new action plan.
Lilyleaf Ladybells Successfully Bred in an in vitro Culture
A methodology for the propagation of the critically endangered species Lilyleaf Ladybells (Adenophora liliifolia) by the micropropagation technique was prepared at the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute (VULHM). The methodology was applied for different genotypes of plants from several sites where the species occurs. Procedures for induction, multiplication and rhizogenesis of the explantates were optimised. In vitro produce was successfully cultivated from the newly established explantate cultures. Open-air planting has now been done. The stabilised explantate cultures in the multiplication stage are also kept in the explantate bank of the VULHM. The in vitro cultures can be maintained for a long time and can be used when plants of this critically endangered species need to be cultivated.
Records of the Occurrence of the Lilyleaf Ladybells (Adenophora liliifolia) Have Been Kept at the Cesky kras PLA Since 1980
Valuable information for the preparation of the action plan was obtained from the Cesky kras PLA Administration. The staff of the Administration have been working with the Lilyleaf Ladybells for a long time and keeping detailed records. Initially handwritten and later typewritten records will be scanned and substantial information will be included in the action plan.
Monitoring of All Populations of the Lilyleaf Ladybells Was Carried Out
At the end of July, when Lilyleaf Ladybells are in bloom, plants at all sites were counted. The most prolific site is Vrazba in Eastern Bohemia, where 87 clusters were found in rich bloom. Data on the temperature, humidity and light were also downloaded at each site from data loggers.
Genetic Variability Study Shows the Lilyleaf Ladybells Populations to Be Viable
The study included 23 sites in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania. Median values of genetic variability were found, representing differences at the level of individual plants rather than differences between the populations, showing the prevalence of sexual propagation in the populations. The populations can be seen as viable, with a sufficient level of genetic variability securing a sufficient source of natural variability in the populations. The study was done by the Laboratory of Molecular Markers at the Department of Botany of the Faculty of Science at Palacky University Olomouc. The study is available here.
What we are working on at the moment
In winter, project work concentrates in particular on laboratory activities and on the gathering of supporting information for the text of the action plan. The first tests of the germination capacity of lilyleaf ladybell seeds were carried out at the Hradec Králové University. Best germinating were those seeds treated with 50% Savo and Ethephon (liberating ethylene) cultivated in light and at a temperature of 21°C. At Palacký University in Olomouc, all works necessary for the final analysis of genetic variability of the lilyleaf ladybell were carried out: gradual isolation of DNA from samples, measuring the concentration of the extracted DNA, a quality check of the isolated DNA using agarose gel electrophoresis, testing the functionality of the AFLP method on the isolated DNA and selection of primer combinations. Výzkumný ústav lesního hospodářství a myslivosti, v.v.i. (Forestry and Game Management Research Institute) continues to work on the methodology of in vitro rescue cultivation. New cultures from the Vražba site are maintained in the form of stabilized plant tissue cultures. The first rooted cultures are transferred to non-sterile conditions.
Information about the seminar
The seminar related to the preparation of the action plan for the lilyleaf ladybell was held on 1 October in the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute in Strnady. More than twenty persons interested in issues concerning the lilyleaf ladybell met at the seminar. The agenda included a presentation of the species and its sites and, last but not least, lectures were given on project activities, such as monitoring, in vitro cultivation and genetic variability studies. A discussion followed focussing on the measures of the action plan under preparation. For instance, enlarging populations by sowing/planting the lilyleaf ladybell proved to be a controversial question. At the end of the seminar, the participants used the opportunity to see the in vitro culture of the lilyleaf ladybell.
“Preparation of the action plan for the lilyleaf ladybell” seminar
We would like to invite you to the seminar entitled “Preparation of the action plan for the lilyleaf ladybell”. The seminar will be held on 1 October 2015 at 10.00 a.m. at the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute (Strnady 136, Jíloviště). The objective of the seminar is to present the known facts about the lilyleaf ladybell and its occurrence in the Czech Republic, to introduce the project of the new action plan and to discuss measures necessary to be taken for the preservation of this species.
Monitoring of the Lilyleaf Ladybells Has Brought Bad News
Monitoring of the Lilyleaf Ladybells was carried out at all of the sites in August. Counting of the plants is made during the bloom when they are the most remarkable. A total of 188 bunches were identified. The bunches often consisted of only one stem. The richest site is the Vrazba forest area near Habrina (the area of Hradec Kralove) where one-half of the bunches was found.
Many plants were damaged by the dry weather this year. Plants with dried-out inflorescences were found, but in many cases whole stems had dried out. Plants damaged by nibbling were found at unfenced sites. This is a long-term and major issue in the conservation of this species. After nibbling, the plants are usually unable to regenerate or produce new inflorescences.
Sampling of Adenophora liliifolia Plant Parts for In Vitro Cultivation
The preparation of a new action plan for Adenophora liliifolia includes a draft of the methodology which describes how new plants can be obtained via in vitro cultivation. This is a task for the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute, an institution with broad experience in these cultivations. In vitro cultivation has several steps. First, the plant material must be sampled and sterilised. Following that, a so-called explantate culture is established on an induction substrate, and if successful, the culture can begin to be reproduced on a multiplication substrate.
The plant material was sampled in June and July at the Vrazba and Dzban sites. Stem parts are sampled. The sampled materials are properly marked and a cooling box is used for transport so that the parts stay alive without drying out. As soon as they are received by the Research Institute, they are sterilised and placed on the substrate.
The SGSII-22 Project: The Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum Plant
The anticipated objectives and products were fulfilled and the project was officially closed on 30/4/2017. A summary of the revised text of the action plan for Marsh Angelica is available for download here.
Invitation to the Project Closing Seminar
As part of the project implementation, the Nature Conservation Agency would like to invite you to the closing seminar of the project entitled Preparation of the Action Plan for the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum Plant, to be held on Friday 21 April 2017 in Bystrice pod Hostynem.
The First Ornithogalum pyrenaicum in 2017
In order to verify some contradictory facts from literature regarding the dates of budding of leaves of Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum, we made a survey at two sites at the beginning of March. We found that the leaves at the bottom rosettes of most of the plants were less than 3 cm in length (see fig. 1) and a major number of the plants were only budding (see fig. 2). Only in the greatest rosettes did the leaf length exceed 5 cm. From that we gathered that in the Czech Republic most of the plants do not start budding in autumn.
A Lecture Entitled ‘Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum, an Unknown Piece of the Balkans in Moravia’
As part of the regular cycle of lectures of the Czech Botanical Society and the Department of Botany at the Faculty of Science of Charles’ University, the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum plant will be presented on Monday 27/03/2017. Ing. Tomas Svacina and Mgr. Karel Fajmon will present not only the findings made during the project, but also findings relating to the biology of the plant and its sites, the prepared action plan and the proposed measures for its conservation.
The lecture is to be held in the Krajina Room in the Department of Botany at the Faculty of Science of Charles’ University in Prague, Benatska 2, Prague 2 at 5pm.
A Lucky Coincidence Helped to Uncover a New Site of the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum Plant
At the end of 2016 it was a lucky coincidence that helped to expand our knowledge of the occurrence of the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum plant, uncovering an unknown site in the ‘Pouzdranska step – Kolby’ National Nature Monument. The plant was found at the margin of steppe growth already in June 2010. One plant was taken as herbaria evidence which, however, remained without reliable identification among the yet unclassified herbaria items in the collections of the Museum of Vysocina in Trebic. Only in October 2016 did Jana Jelinkova, the botanist at the Museum, help to draw attention to this sample, surprisingly identifying it as the critically endangered species Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum. It actually is not the first occurrence in the region, as it was collected approx. 15 km ENE from the site by Rudolf Steiger in 1882. The finding from 2010 has therefore confirmed the occurrence of the plant in the southwestern promontory of the Zdanicky forest after 128 years.
New knowledge about pollination in Bath Asparagus
Number of seeds in highly self-incompatible plant species depends on the success rate of pollination. Bath Asparagus belongs to plants pollinated by insects. An observation of pollinators was done in the middle of June 2016 at a locality with our largest Bath Asparagus population at the foot of Hostýnské hills. 50 individual plants were continuously observed for a period of two hours. Flowers were in most cases visited by honeybees, as was suggested already by preliminary findings from mapping of this plant species. Maximum of two honeybees was always present on one plant at the same moment. After touching down on the inflorescence, the bees most often visited several flowers before flying over to another plant.
Two butterflies belonging to the species known as Common Blue also visited the monitored plants. Both species even met each other on some plants. These results to a greater extent correspond to published findings in literature. The inflorescence of Bath Asparagus also served as hunting ground for the flower spider.
6th year of Thematic meeting regarding the study of our rare and endangered flora species
During the days of April 7th – 9th 2016, the 6th year of Thematic meeting regarding the study of our rare and endangered flora species took place in Sedmihorky near Karlovice in Protected Landscape Area Český ráj. Participants of the meeting introduced their projects that are focused on different thematic areas, such as research of rare species, management issues of rare species and their localities or action plans. The species of Bath Asparagus and its biology, ecology, distribution and localities were presented as well, together with measures for its protection proposed in the action plan being prepared within the project MGSII-22.
The oldest data in literature about Bath Asparagus from the area of Hostýnské hills
The occurrence of Bath Asparagus in the area of Hostýnské hills (with greater number of localities) and the White Carpathians was confirmed within a field study of current distribution of this plant. The oldest written record from Hostýnské hills is from the book „Rostlinnictví“, that is „Instructions to easy determination and naming of plants in Bohemia, Moravia and other states of the Austrian monarchy“ from 1852. The book was written by Daniel Sloboda (1809-1888), an evangelic pastor, botanist and etnographer, who spent 51 years (from 1837 till his death) at Rusava, a Wallachian village in Hostýnské hills. Daniel Sloboda was burried at a local cemetery, which is in sight of a recent Bath Asparagus locality in an extensive orchard near the village.
The above mentioned book describes that the plant grows in Austria, Hungary and in Moravia under Hostýn. The book is the first key to determining plants written in Czech language and has 736 pages + 48 pages of introduction. The key was territorially designed for a broader area, however, the author based it on his own observations done mostly in the area of western Slovakia and eastern Moravia. It contains more than 3000 plant species.
Hunt for the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum in herbarium collections
When reviewing the public Moravian and Czech herbarium collections, it emerged that all herbarium items from the White Carpathians more than fifty years old originally determined as being Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum are in fact Ornithogalum brevistylum. Hence, the suspicion was confirmed that the dramatic decrease in sites where Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum occurs in the White Carpathians compared to the first half of the 20th century is not real but is caused by the previous incorrect determination of the species, or by incorrectly using its name for Ornithogalum brevistylum, which is still abundant in the White Carpathians at certain sites.
The recent studies of herbarium specimens collected by Stanislav Staněk deposited in the herbarium of the Moravské zemské muzeum (Moravian Museum) in Brno outside the main collection, which were hence omitted during the previous revision of the herbarium, have brought new information in this regard. Besides many specimens of Ornithogalum brevistylum, Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum from two White Carpathian sites from the 1920s was found as well. Consequently, this is the only known credible information about the occurrence of this species in the Moravian part of the White Carpathians before 1970.
New Occurrences of the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum Plant
Detailed monitoring and research of potential sites of the Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum plant led to four new sites being found in recent weeks. There are three new sites in the Hostynske hills near Bystrice pod Hostynem, one site is near Bilavsko and the last is in Kruhy, near Tucapy.
The fourth site was identified in the White Carpathians, in a forest area below the Goliaska forest on the north-western edge of Sumice. The site is less than 3 km away from the known site near the Hradcovec forest, between Sumice and Banov. With around 120 blooming plants this year, it is the richest site of the species in the White Carpathians. This is likely to be confirmation of a historical site discovered in 1974 by the renowned botanist L. Hrouda north of Sumice.
Similarly as in the meadow near the Hradcovec forest, the Ornithogalum brevistylum plant was found occurring together with Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum and has outnumbered it several times in both sites. It appears that this is why Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum has been neglected at this site, as when Ornithogalum brevistylum is in full bloom, Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaerocarpum is almost overblown, and could have therefore been mistakenly thought to be an overblown Ornithogalum brevistylum.
The SGSII-23 Project: the Eastern Pasque Flower
The anticipated objectives and products were fulfilled and the project was officially closed on 30/4/2017. A summary of the revised text of the action plan for Marsh Angelica is available for download here.
Invitation to the Project Closing Seminar
As part of the project implementation, the Nature Conservation Agency would like to invite you to the closing seminar of the project entitled Preparation of the Action Plan for the Eastern Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla patens), to be held on Wednesday 26 April 2017 in Litomerice.
Excursion to see not only Eastern Pasque Flower to a vanished village Pastviny in Doupovské hory (May 14th 2016)
Within implementation of the project Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA CR) together with the North-Bohemian branch of Czech Botanical Society invite you to an excursion to Doupovské hory, to the surroundings of vanished village Pastviny. The excursion leader, botanist Ing. Čestmír Ondráček, will make participants familiar with the biology and ecology of Eastern Pasque Flower and with other interesting plant species in the area.
Sixth year of Thematic meeting regarding the study of rare and endangered species of our flora
Sixth year of Thematic meeting regarding the study of rare and endangered species of our flora took place on April 7th till 9th 2016 in Sedmihorky near Karlovice in Protected Landscape Area Český ráj. The meeting was focused on introducing projects of its participants from different thematic areas, such as research on rare species, issues of management for scarce species and their sites or action plans. Biology and ecology of Eastern Pasque Flower, its area of occurrence and specific localities were introduced at the meeting as well. Very beneficial was especially the following discussion about the causes of threat and proposed measures to help the Eastern Pasque Flower.
Eastern Pasque Flower excursion to Holý vrch on Sunday April 24th 2016
Within implementation of the project Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA CR) together with the North-Bohemian branch of Czech Botanical Society organize an excursion to Nature Reserve Holý vrch u Hinné in Protected Landscape Area České středohoří. The excursion leader, botanist Ing. Čestmír Ondráček, will make participants familiar with the biology and ecology of Eastern Pasque Flower, with the locality Holý vrch and with other interesting plant species in the area.
Eastern Pasque Flower under scrutiny
The population of Eastern Pasque Flower in Krásná Lípa near Chomutov is currently observed very closely. The locality was discovered in 1855 by doctor Josef Knaf from Chomutov. After several years of publicity and admiration given to the site came a turn in the second half of the 20th century. First, the way of farming changed completely and the exposed hillside stayed lying fallow, a dump site emerged in the surroundings and later also larch trees were planted nearby. Gardeners from Chomutov used to come there to dig out the Pasque Flowers and put them into their rock gardens, until in 1985 there were only last 13 individuals left from the original cca 100 clusters. After that the second turn came, this time a positive one. Botanist Josef Lorber from Chomutov decided to rescue the population. He first had the site fenced (which took a lot of effort) and then he carefully mowed the entire locality. Each Pasque Flower (cluster or individual) was given an evidence number and since 1989 numbers of flowers of each cluster/individual are precisely recorded. Thanks to that, unique data are now available about each plant, something that has probably not been done anywhere else in the world. Due to the carefully kept surface it is also possible to follow the development of seedlings in good detail.
However, even this locality reflected quite strongly the unfavourable climatic conditions in the years 2014 a 2015, when only close to 90 flowers appeared, as opposed to the year 2010, when more than 1 200 flowers were recorded.
Monitoring of the Eastern pasque flower at the Borečský vrch national natural heritage site
One of the sites of the Eastern pasque flower in the Czech Republic is also the population at Boreč hill (the Borečský vrch national natural heritage site) near Režný Újezd (the district of Litoměřice). The population can be found on a steep hill oriented west-northwest, in a partially unstable talus field below a rock outburst. Both the rock outburst and the talus are formed of phonolite. The site has been known since 1904 (Domin) and has been monitored on a regular (annual) basis since 2000. It is a natural habitat of “primary” occurrence of the Eastern pasque flower. No management interventions have been performed at the site. The only danger were certain tree species expanding in favourable years (birch, trembling poplar). However, drier years and the unstable talus maintained the trees within reasonable limits. The population of the Eastern pasque flower was found on an area of 0.3 hectares and the number of plants in flower was unusually stable compared to other sites for the entire monitoring period (approx. 55–75 plants, of which always more than 15 clumps had 3 or more flowers). In 2015, only 9 clumps were in flower, of which 8 had only one flower. The extraordinarily huge decline in the number of clumps in flower and their weakening is most likely the consequence of climatic changes, moderate winters with no snow, and a hot and particularly dry growing season. A similarly dramatic decline in the number of plants in flower can be noted at most sites of the Eastern pasque flower.
A slightly pessimistic message from the monitoring of the Eastern pasque flower at the Líšnice site
This year’s hot and dry summer had a negative impact on the Central Bohemian site of Líšnice. The site is an island of thermophilic gramineous and herbaceous plants which are gradually being overgrown by shrubs, which has a negative impact on the population of the Eastern pasque flower. This summer, the negative impacts were accompanied by the prolonged hot and dry weather and consequently, the gramineous and herbaceous plant society at the site, including the Eastern pasque flower, withered. Only the next year will show the impact of this year’s drought on the already weak population of the Eastern pasque flower. This is not the first calamity to have affected the species. In 2010, rhizomes of the Eastern pasque flower were heavily bitten by murine rodents under a high snow cover but in the end several flowers and also leaves sprouted in late spring.
The SGSII-24 Project: Rearing of the European Ground Squirrel
Project results presented to broader implementation team of the EGS Action Plan
A traditional meeting regarding the Action Plan for european ground squirrel (EGS) in the Czech Republic took place on December 14th in Prague. Participants were many co-workers from different institutions, who somehow contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan (e.g. colleagues from regional offices of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, representatives of partner zoological gardens, regional authorities, universities, non-governmental organizations, etc.). All these people form so called „broader implementation team of the Action Plan“. First, the Action Plan coordinator introduced a summary of all activities done in frame of the EGS Action Plan in 2016, including brief results of the project MGSII-24. Thanks to this project, we now have three new EGS breeding facilities in the Czech Republic, which will hopefully soon start functioning as source of animals for planned reintroductions. After that, a representative of NGO ALKA Wildlife presented its research and educational activities focused on the EGS, also financially supported by EEA grants and Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic. Very interesting and for further continuation of the Action Plan definitely helpful were especially results of performed population viability analyses and other modeling of EGS populations. The meeting usually goes on in a partly working mode, therefore also discussions about monitoring, financial support of management at individual localities for next year, planned reintroductions or strengthening of small populations, etc. took place. We would like to thank everybody for participation and most importantly for pleasant long-term cooperation!
Project presented at the international „6th European Ground Squirrel Meeting“
Already the 6th international conference focused on conservation and research of ground squirrels took place November 4th – 11th 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia. The meeting was attended by the coordinator of the Czech Action Plan (AP) for the European Ground Squirrel, as part of her talk about activities implemented within the AP in the last two years she also introduced projects SGSII-24 and SGSII-53 and in general mentioned financial support of the AP coming from EEA grants through the Small Grant Scheme „Action Plans for Endangered Species II“ (presentation is available HERE).
Talks and posters regarding mostly the European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus), but also several other species of Groung Squirrels were presented at the conference in overall six sections. Over 30 representatives from 9 countries, where these species occur, participated at the meeting. The greatest number of contributions was devoted to the issues of ecology and management of Ground Squirrel populations, but even „more scientific“ works on the topics of genetics, ethology or parasitology were introduced. A discussion workshop about new Action Plan for the European Ground Squirrel being currently prepared in Bulgaria was also part of the meeting. More information about the conference can be found on its website.
Successful „Ground Squirrel Day“ in Zoo Hluboká
A so-called „Ground Squirrel Day“ took place on Saturday, September 10th, in Zoo Hluboká. Outputs and latest happenings of our project, which we implement together with our partners Zoo Brno, Zoo Hluboká and ČSOP Vlašim, were introduced during this event. The programme also contained other interesting activities: commented feeding of ground squirrels, otters and bears, little art corner and competition for children – both of course with ground squirrel topics and with many nice ground squirrel-oriented rewards. Everything went without a hitch in a pleasant atmosphere, the most popular attractions – especially for children – turned out to be the possibility to observe live ground squirrels, the art corner and our nice rewards. Attendance was very high (the Zoo registered cca 1 100 visitors on that day), so we hope that everybody enjoyed the event and that they learned something new or interesting about ground squirrels, the animals we try to protect not only in the current project.
Invitation to „Ground Squirrel Day“
We would like to invite you, together with Zoological Garden in Hluboká nad Vltavou, to our „Ground Squirrel Day“ in this Zoo, which will take place this Saturday, September 10th 2016. It will contain a presentation of the ongoing project focused on establishing new breeding programmes of this critically endangered animals, but you will of course also see real European Ground Squirrels in the local exposition, hear commented feeding of other interesting species of our fauna and children can participate in a fun competition for very nice ground squirrel-based prizes. We look forward to seeing you in Hluboká, the event starts at 10 a.m.
Last breeding programme in rescue station Rozovy near Temelín is starting
57 individuals of European Ground Squirrel (EGS) were released this Wednesday into the newly prepared breeding facility in rescue station Rozovy, belonging to Zoo Hluboká nad Vltavou. By that, the last breeding site for this critically endangered animal species planned within this project was established. The animals originate just like last year from Slovakia, from localities near international airport in Bratislava. We have brought 24 males and 33 females, mostly this year's grown out juveniles. Prior to transport, all individuals were weighed, fitted with microchips, examined by a veterinarian and a sample for later genetic analysis was taken, as well as a common excrement sample for parazitological analysis. All animals managed the trip without any problems and on Wednesday shortly after noon they were already released into their new home. This time we carried out the entire action slightly earlier than last year, so that the ground squirrels have enough time to dig their own burrows and to prepare in general for hibernation. In fact, the terrain at the breeding site is quite rocky. Nevertheless, we hope the new inhabitants will like it there.
Excellent news from Brno as well
Control trappings of European Ground Squirrels were done at the beginning of June in the breeding facility in Zoo Brno and their results were very pleasing: successful breeding already in the first year after establishing this breeding programme was confirmed. We managed to catch 14 juveniles and at least 5 nursing females. Juveniles had quite large differences in weights, pointing to the fact that breeding period was probably longer than usual. Newly born animals were given individual identification chips and situation in the breeding facility will be further observed.
Great news from Vlašim!
We received wonderful news from the Rescue Station in Vlašim at the beginning of May – fresh juveniles have been seen in the breeding facility! The breeding programme, founded last year, therefore seems to be successful and starts serving its main purpose, which is very exciting for us. The observation of juveniles so early is quite unusual (most often they appear at the surface at the end of May or during the first half of June), but this anomaly should not have any negative consequences in a breeding programme. Very likely, this extremely early reproduction was partly caused by atypical activity of some of the animals during the winter. You can watch the hungry little ground squirrels here.
Breeding facility in Rozovy finished
The contractor selected to build new EGS breeding facility in Rescue Station Rozovy under Zoo Hluboká nad Vltavou met all requirements in given deadline, so the breeding facility was at the end of April succesfully finished and taken over. As can be seen from the first picture, the walls were embeded very deep, so ground squirrels should not be able to dig out. Digging burrows in general will be more difficult for them due to the rocky ground with high skeleton content at the locality. However, based on known findings so far, ground squirrels are able to dig in even worse terrain, so they should cope with this challenge. The release of ground squirrels into this new facility is planned for the summer months – July or August.
Building EGS breeding facility in animal rescue station in Rozovy will start soon
The work on building the third EGS breeding facility planned within this project in animal rescue station in Rozovy, belonging to Zoo Hluboká, will finally get going. Zoo Hluboká managed to solve some estate issues and in March arranged a competitive tender for building the facility. The company Š+H Bohunice Ltd was chosen from three registered applicants as the winner, who fulfiled the given conditions and offered the cheapest price. The company took over the building site on March 21st 2016 and now is preparing all needed materials. So the construction will start in the following days, it should be then finished on April 28th 2016. After that, areas damaged during the building will be sowed again and other details will be prepared, so that everything is ready for the release of ground squirrels in July or August.
Ground squirrels in new breeding facilities do not want to go to sleep
The ground squirrels in our newly established breeding sites are so far not behaving as the true hibernants they really are. European ground squirrels in the wild under normal circumstances start hibernating during September or October. However, our individuals in Brno and Vlašim were observed active still in November and it seems that they did not even mind the first snow that appeared at the sites at the end of the month. We consult this unusual situation with both Czech and foreign EGS specialists, who mention several potential factors that might have contributed to the situation. These are: very warm autumn in general, possible lack of time to build good quality dens for hibernation after the release in August and finally also food supplementation, which may keep the animals awake. However, it seems too risky to us to stop the food supply when at least some animals are clearly still active, so the supplementation will continue and the keepers will continuously observe the situation.
What is the situation in new EGS breeding sites in Brno and Vlašim?
The Slovakian ground squirrels brought in the summer to Brno and Vlašim are slowly making themselves comfortable in their new homes. They have digged some new dens and are gladly receiving offered food. However, we have unfortunately already registered deaths as well – 2 individuals were found dead in Vlašim at the end of August and then one more in mid-September. According to autopsy results, the cause of death in all animals was pneumonia. It is therefore possible that soma animals have arrived already with the bacteria causing this disease. Let's hope that other ground squirrels will not get infected, the keepers have decided to try to improve their immunity by adding special drops into their food.
Transport and Release of European Ground Squirrels from Slovakia Was a Success
The new individuals come from Bratislava’s M. R. Stefanik airport and its environs, where our Slovak colleagues regularly catch them. The animals in fact attract birds of prey, which can pose a threat to air traffic safety. The planned release of the Ground Squirrels from Slovakia aims at refreshing the genetic variability of existing Czech populations of the species.
Despite extremely high temperatures, the transport went off smoothly and 62 individual animals were released into special enclosures:, 40 in Zoo Brno and 22 in animal rescue station in Vlasim. Prior to the transport, all animals were weighed, fitted with microchips and their gender was determined. The animals were gradually released one by one into pre-bored dens where they will be regularly fed. However, the animals will now face a demanding task in the upcoming weeks – to build sufficiently deep and high-quality dens to be able to hibernate at their new sites.
Project started up with pedological survey
This project, focused on establishing new breeding programmes of European Ground Squirrels, has already successfully started. An introductory information seminar took place at the end of May in Prague. Pedological survey has also been done at all three planned localities for the breeding programmes, and in two of them – Zoo Brno and Rescue station for wild animals in Vlašim – everything is currently prepared for the arrival of new inhabitants. They should be delivered at the end of this week from Bratislava. Let´s hope everything goes without difficulties and the ground squirrels like their new home.
The SGSII-25 Project: Gentianella Flowers
New Findings on Dwarf Gentians – Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella and Gentianella obtusifolia subsp. sturmiana in a New Information Leaflet
As part of the preparation of the action plan for these two species of dwarf gentians, many findings were made and verified, pertaining for instance to their biology, occurrence in the Czech Republic in the past, to the current populations in the existing sites and the character of the biotopes where they occur. This information helped to determine clear recommendations on how to provide these critically endangered species with suitable conditions for their survival and further prosperity.
A brochure entitled Management of Sites of Dwarf Gentians – Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella and Gentianella obtusifolia subsp. sturmiana is a concise text summarising the entire knowledge of the two species and the suggested management for the sites where they occur. The brochure is designed for the public and can be downloaded here (CZE). If you require a printed copy, feel free to contact the Plant Species Conservation Department at the Headquarters of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic in Prague.
The Dwarf Gentian – Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella in the Czech Republic in 2016, Or Looking Forward to the Year 2017
The year 2016 was far from ideal for the populations of the Dwarf Gentian – Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella, compared to the previous years. Despite that, an increase in the number of individual blooming plants was unexpectedly seen in some sites. This is confirmation of how important it is to consistently manage the sites where it occurs, including those where the plant has not been seen for some time.
For more information about the plant in the Czech Republic in 2016, check the news section on the action plans website.
Presentation of current results
In the course of the project which focussed on the preparation of a new action plan for two species of the dwarf gentian (Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella and G. obtusifolia subsp. sturmiana), the results achieved were successfully summarised and presented to the public within two lectures held in České Budějovice and in Prague. The audience included 42 members of the public.
The basic output was an overview of recent sites of both the species and the evaluation of the populations’ condition. In total, 65 and 11 sites of Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella and G. obtusifolia subsp. sturmiana, respectively, have been registered in the territory of the Czech Republic (since 2000). The size of the two populations differs considerably. Unfortunately, populations with a small number of plants or on the verge of extinction prevail, although several very numerous populations can still be found (see overview maps).
Work on processing materials for the Action Plan for Dwarf Gentians is continuing…
Field monitoring of localities of both Gentianella species has finished with the end of growing season. In spite of very dry and hot weather this summer, which caused a high decrease of flowering individuals, occurrence of Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella at some historically known localities in the Czech Republic from the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries has been proven. In case of Gentianella obtusifolia subsp. Sturmiana, flowering individuals were observed at six from eleven long-term monitored localities. The outcomes from field monitoring done this season will be further processed and evaluated.
Already now, in advance, I would like to invite all public potentially interested in project results to a talk by South Bohemian subdivison of the Czech Botanical Society in České Budějovice with the title „Research and conservation of Dwarf Gentians in the Czech Republic“, which will be held on Saturday 20th February 2016.
Surveying the Historical Occurrence of Dwarf Gentians and the Lifecycle of the Gentianella obtusifolia ssp. sturmiana Plant
Information has been gathered as part of this project concerning the historical occurrence of two Dwarf Gentians – Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella and Gentianella obtusifolia ssp. sturmiana in the Czech Republic. So far, 11 collections of herbaria have been reviewed, with more than 2200 herbaria items. A total of 255 items relating to the two Dwarf Gentians have been confirmed. The search for historical evidence of the occurrence of these two species will continue. Unfortunately, the present findings seem to confirm that although Gentianella amarella subsp. amarella was quite a common species in some areas, it seems to have been neglected when collecting for herbaria.
Other preliminary results are implied from the study into the lifecycle of Gentianella obtusifolia ssp. sturmiana. Seeds of this species were sown before the 2015 season at four sites with experimental plots where various management types were simulated. The Dwarf Gentians germinated well in all the plots and survived relatively well, while they thrived best on plots which were mown and raked. Unfortunately, this year’s extreme droughts have affected at least two sites, where almost 100% of the seedlings died.
The SGSII-26 Project: The Saker Falcon
Closing seminar about the project
The second information seminar focusing on the project results took place on the fourth day of March at the town Brno. The seminar was attended by 46 participants. The members of the authors' team presented the results of the monitoring and the proposal of the action plan for Saker Falcon, including the planned measures, which should allow the preservation of this rare species of predator in the territory of the Czech Republic.
Monitoring of the Saker Falcon in the 2016
Thanks to the possibility to extend the project and the savings found in the project budget, it was possible to finance monitoring also in 2016. The monitoring was carried out in the Pardubice and Central Bohemia regions, while in other Czech Republic the monitoring was financed from other sources.
In the Bohemia, unfortunately, no breeding has been proved, five couples were found in South Moravia, but only two couples proved to be nesting and only one pair of youngsters were brought out.
Monitoring of the Saker Falcon in the 2015
This year, intensive monitoring of Saker Falcon began in mid-February and ended in most areas at the end of June. Even though the monitoring was eventually spent more than 1000 hours, only five nests on which the Saker Falcon were nestled were traced. In total, more than 750 suitable nests were inspected. Another five couples stayed in the observed area, but their nests could not be traced, or it was possible that some of them did not even nest.
Prolongation of the Project
On 28 April 2016, the Ministry of the Environment approved prolongation of the project until 30/04/2017. According to the new schedule, the text of the action plan should be submitted for opponent review in January 2017.
Thanks to the fact that the donors allowed the prolongation, we would like to obtain new data on the occurrence of the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in the Czech Republic this year as well. The project originally included intense monitoring activities in the year 2015 only. The spared finances from other parts of the project will be used for the monitoring of appropriate areas in Eastern and Southern Bohemia.
The SGSII-27 Project: The Oak Jewel Beetle
Information Seminar and Excursion to the Palace Park
A seminar on the project entitled Preparation of the Action Plan for the Eurythyrea quercus Beetle was held on 4 October in Veseli nad Moravou. The first lecture informed about the performance of the action plans in general, for instance, about the primary prerequisites and objectives of the plans. The next lecture described the biology and ecology of the species and its historical occurrence. After a short break, during which several questions were answered relating to the previous two lectures, the participants received information on the project itself. Specific measures were presented and their meaning and method of implementation were explained.
Another break was followed by an excursion to the palace park in Veseli nad Moravou, one of the few sites where the Eurythyrea quercus beetle still survives. The experts showed the exit holes in tree trunks and practically showed also the ecological demands of the beetle in various parts of the park. A debate went on during the excursion with the representatives of the municipality, including specific examples of the management of trees inhabited by the beetle and the general management of the palace park on the whole.
Following an incentive from the town’s conservation officers, an article about the beetle was written and published on the website of Veseli nad Moravou and is available here (CZE).
The SGSII-29 Project: The Long-stalked Pondweed
Project concluding seminar took place
The seminar was held on Wednesday, October 26th 2016 at the University of Hradec Králové. It introduced step by step individual chapters of the revised action plan for the Long-stalked Pondweed. Special attention was paid mostly to the newly set measures of the action plan. Participants obtained prepared promotional materials.
Invitation to concluding seminar regarding our project
We would like to invite you to a concluding seminar regarding the project „Revision of the Action Plan for the Long-stalked Pondweed (Potamogeton praelongus). It will take place on Wednesday, October 26th at the University of Hradec Králové. The seminar will introduce the revised text of the action plan.
New maps of the historic and current range of the species
New maps of the historic and current range have been created for the updated text of the action plan. The map of the historic range summarizes data until the year 2000. Problematic Deyl herbarium evidence, which raises doubts as to its correct localization, is highlighted by a question mark on the map. The map of current locations (after the year 2000) reflects all the planting interventions as well.
Drafting a working version of the revised text of the action plan
The first part of the action plan presenting the basic information for the implementation of the action plan was carefully revised and has been gradually completed with new information gathered over the 11 years of implementation. Thanks to the action plan we have detailed information about the recent range of the species. In addition, the chapter concerning the biology and ecology of the species has been substantially extended with a summary of the results of germinability tests. The second part of the text focussing on the action plan objectives, and in particular, on specific measures for the preservation of the species, requires broader discussion. Indeed, it is not easy to define objectives that would be achievable and whose achievement would actually lead to the long-term preservation of the species in the Czech Republic. The action plan measures will respond to current threats, such as the unsuitable condition of the species’ last site or damage caused to the plants by inappropriate human interventions as well as by animals (ducks, fish).
An Introductory Seminar on the Project Was Held
A seminar, with the same title as the project – Revision of the Action Plan for the Long-stalked Pondweed (Potamogeton praelongus), was held at the beginning of June at the Mohelsky mlyn centre, near Mohelno.
RNDr. Romana Prausova, Ph.D., from University of Hradec Kralove, presented to the attendants what has already been carried out as part of the action plan. The action plan has been underway for thirteen years. Over that time, many circumstances have changed and much new knowledge has been obtained. All of this can be found in the assessment of the action plan, summarised by Mgr. Barbora Cepelova from the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic. The assessment is to be followed by a revision project, which was also presented in the seminar.
The SGSII-53 Project: The EGS - Management
Project presented at the international „6th European Ground Squirrel Meeting“
Already the 6th international conference focused on conservation and research of ground squirrels took place November 4th – 11th 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia. The meeting was attended by the coordinator of the Czech Action Plan (AP) for the European Ground Squirrel, as part of her talk about activities implemented within the AP in the last two years she also introduced projects SGSII-24 and SGSII-53 and in general mentioned financial support of the AP coming from EEA grants through the Small Grant Scheme „Action Plans for Endangered Species II“ (presentation is available HERE).
Talks and posters regarding mostly the European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus), but also several other species of Groung Squirrels were presented at the conference in overall six sections. Over 30 representatives from 9 countries, where these species occur, participated at the meeting. The greatest number of contributions was devoted to the issues of ecology and management of Ground Squirrel populations, but even „more scientific“ works on the topics of genetics, ethology or parasitology were introduced. A discussion workshop about new Action Plan for the European Ground Squirrel being currently prepared in Bulgaria was also part of the meeting. More information about the conference can be found on its website.
Management at locality Kolín finished for this season
Another control of the project locality with European Ground Squirrel (EGS) occurrence at the airfield in Kolín took place on September 30th. Its main purpose was to inspect the state of vegetation after the last reported mowing. The entire area of the airfield was again cut very short and was also cleared of all the mown material (visible in enclosed pictures). Therefore it was possible to state that EGS management was finished in a satisfactory way this year, the contractor met the obligations given by the contract and will be paid the agreed financial amount. Thanks to nice weather, several individual of the EGS (cca 10 – 15) were still visible at the locality, but the greater part of the colony has likely already started with hibernation.
Control od locality Kolín as part of summer monitoring
Regular summer monitoring of all known sites of European Ground Squirrel (EGS) occurrence in the Czech Republic took place during last week. That was a good opportunity to check the locality at Kolín airfiled, where management for the EGS is still financed from our project this season. The locality was visited on Thursday, July 7th in the afternoon, during suitable weather conditions, but also many activities going on at the airport (mostly parachute jumps). The entire site was nicely cut, which improved a little monitoring conditions, slightly hindered by the mentioned activities. According to information from our contractor, the airfiled was just after the second mowing, the term of third mowing will be arranged based on further vegetation growth. Therefore, from the viewpoint of project fulfilment, everything is so far as expected. Regardinig the monitoring, there were alltogether 39 individuals observed at the locality that day and active entrances to burrows were found in similar places and with similar frequencies as last year. The monitoring at the same time confirmed the occurrence of this season's juveniles. Ffinal estimate of overall abundance of EGS at Kolín airfield is still to be determined, together with estimates for all other monitored localities.
Another field seminar, this time in Mladá Boleslav
Another excursion focused on European Ground Squirrels and organized within the project publicity took place on Sunday, June 26th. It was made mostly for children and also for this reason, the main visited locality was Mladá Boleslav – Radouč, which was not included in the project, but the ground squirrels are used to human presence here and so it is possible to observe them very closely. Besides basic information about biology and ecology of ground squirrels and about the implemented project, the excursion was also thematically ssupplemented by a visit of nearby localities close to Milovice, where a project focused on returning large grazers into our landscape is currently going on. Thanks to that, children could apart from the ground squirrels also see wild horses, European bison and aurochs. And they could understand some links in nature, for example the fact that grazing creates steppe-like type of landscape which is suitable among others also for the ground squirrels. Each participant also obtained a copy of our information booklet about ground squirrels and a short ground squirrel colouring picture comic book.
Excursion in Miroslav successful
The announced Saturday excursion, taking place as part of the „fighting airplane model“ event at field airport in Miroslav, was in our eyes very successful. We had wonderful weather, saw interesting flying battles, there were a lot of visitors curious about European Ground Squirrels and overall, we experienced a relaxed atmosphere, supported for sure also by the possibility of good refreshments. Therefore, we would like to thank all participants, Aeroklub Miroslav for great organization, we congratulate the winners of the flying event and we will look forward to another potential cooperation of similar nature.
A nice photo-summary of the entire event is available also at the website of Aeroklub Miroslav – photogallery called „Miroslavská řež 2016“.
Invitation to a field seminar/excursion
We would like to invite you, together with Aviation Club Miroslav, to an excursion to see the European Ground Squirrels from this little field airport in South Moravia. It will take place as part of the event „Miroslav Scuffle“, which is a traditional competition of air modellers. You can look forward to a short talk about ground squirrels and about the project, at the same time, it will be possible (when the weather is good) to observe these charming animals all day long. So if you are interested, come on Saturday June 4th to the airport in Miroslav, the event starts at 9:30.
Management at project localities finished
Regular mowing as management supporting the European Ground Squirrel was implemented as the main part of the project in 2015 at overall 8 localities of its occurrence (Břeclav, Kolín, Kyjov – Milotice, Miroslav, Mohelno, Praha – Letňany, Roudnice nad Labem, Strakonice). Last grass cuttings were finished during October, so management was successfully completed at all project localities and the ground squirrels have already rested themselves for the long winter sleep. We wish them peaceful hibernation and happy awakening next year.
Process of mowing in pictures
Management in form of mowing at localities with occurrence of European Ground Squirrel covered by this project was carefully documented. You can find some pictures HERE.
Mowing is going on
Crucial measure of the project – management in form of mowing at overall eight localities with occurrence of European Ground Squirrel - is so far under way according to original plans. Most localities have been mowed twice during the period May – July, third mowing should be finished by the end of September.
An introductory seminar
An introductory seminar took place on May 26th 2015 and website of the project was started at the end of July.
The SGSII-57 Project: The FWPM - Lužní potok
Already in relatively cold weather, the third inspection day was held on 13/10/2016 at the construction site. All the performed work was checked, i.e., the fabric of the waterbed, local pool, fish shelter and stone sill to make the bottom coarser. Representatives from all parties (the builder, designer, Nature Conservation Agency) agreed on minor modifications of specific parts so that they can better perform the required function. In general, the construction works are seen as successful.
On-site Work on the Restoration of the Riverbed Has Been Launched
The construction works followed the site preparation, consisting of the removal of a strip of trees where the side waterbed is to be located. On 14 June 2016, the construction site was handed over to the builder and the works could be launched. The construction assumes, besides the actual structure and shape of the new waterbed, also other parts that are to increase the ecological functions of the waterbed, such as fish shelters, pools and stone sills. The works should be completed this year.