Biodiversity studies in Hungary
From 1998 onwards on water beetles, then bugs, caddisflies, chironomids and from 2010 on the complete aquatic macroinvertebrate spectrum we carry out faunistic exploration studies all over Hungary. Thousands of sampling sites, more than a hundred species detected for the first time in Hungary and hundreds of thousands of data, more than a hundred data papers perfectly illustrate the scale and significance of this work. The activities of recent years mostly concern the waterbodies of the area of the Körös-Maros National Park, mostly Natura 2000 sites.
Biodiversity studies in the Mediterranean
Since 2007, we have been conducting biodiversity studies in the Mediterranean, mainly on the islands, as in most cases only episodic data are available on fauna, forming an almost white spot in Europe, while being considered ‘biodiversity hotspots’ for almost all invertebrate groups. We tried to visit all available waterbodies on Rhodes (2007), Crete (2008), Corfu (2010), where we used ‘only’ traditional morphotaxonomic methods to identify the creatures found, but in the case of Malta (2018) and Cyprus (2019, 2020) we also use methods based on the DNA, which provide particularly promising results in the exploration of the fauna of these fantastic islands.
Our papers in the topic so far:
Everything about the Balkan Goldenring (Cordulegaster heros)
The study of the Mecsek populations of the Natura 2000 Balkan goldernring (Cordulegaster heros), which is of Community importance and highly protected in Hungary, was started in 2011, and it is still a part of our research activity. We have studied in several ways the life history and ecology of this extraordinary dragonfly species, which develops in small mountainous and hilly watercourses. Beyond faunistic mapping, we sought to understand the habitat selection of the larvae (micro- and mesohabitat preference), the relationship between the distribution/proportion of larval stages and the available food spectrum, as well as investigated the emergence behavior based on exuvium monitoring, which is still an ongoing project. Each year, during the flight period (May-August), the larvae that have reached the final larval stage leave the water and grow into an adult on a selected substrate. After this process, dragonflies leave behind a wilted larval skin (exuvium), the study of which provides a huge number of useful information about the life cycle of the species (behavior, population size, density, sex ratio, etc.). Given the conservation status of the species, this type of monitoring is a particularly advantageous sampling method, as it minimizes stress on the species and its habitat, providing the desired information in a non-invasive manner. Of course, to answer some questions, we also used the tools of experimentation and we connected our various projects in an exciting study: examine the behavior of C. heros larvae during a simulated drought (more in the Laboratory Experiments section above).
Papers in this topic:
The vast repository of surprises: the Graphoderus bilineatus in Hungary.
With minor and major interruptions, we have been monitoring the occurrence of the Graphoderus bilineatus in Hungary since 1998 through various monitoring programs, and the more we suspect we know where, when and how it occurs, the more surprises it will provide us in next year. The species is protected in almost all European countries, is a red-listed, Natura 2000 species, included in Bern Convention, can rightly be called the European Holy Grail of water beetles. It used to be widespread throughout Europe, but is now very rare almost everywhere, and although it is showing up again and again in some places, it is considered endangered everywhere except in northern Europe. After its latest records from the 1940s in Hungary, it re-discovered in 1998 in the vicinity of the Upper Tisza, then in the whole area of the Bodrogzug, followed in 2010 by Béda-Karapancsa and the Eastern Drava region, and a few years later by Gemenc floodplain. To the south, in Croatia and Serbia, new populations have become known in the floodplains of the Danube and its tributaries. We try not only to characterize the occurrence and temporal trends of the Hungarian populations on the basis of the new occurrence data, but also to understand the habitat preference of the species and to reveal the reasons for its disappearance and re-emergence, as well as its occurrence in almost imperceptibly small numbers. It is clear that in Hungary it occurs in completely different habitats (waterbodies of regularly flooded floodplains along big and medium sized rivers) than in Czechia, Germany (gravel ponds, abandoned fishponds, bogs) or even further to the north (coastal zone of larger lakes), but the temporal dynamics of populations also seems to be completely different. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to launch a targeted project with this species in focus, but we are trying to knead together the many-many pieces of information we have gained over the 20 years of ad hoc sampling and planned monitoring into a clear picture.
Papers in this topic: