5 Dec 2016
True Bugs (Heteroptera) of Halophytic Habitats in Vojvodina – Providing Data for Conservation and Popularisation of a Neglected Insect Group
True Bugs of Halophytic Habitats in Vojvodina (Part III) – Elaboration of Rapid Assessment and Monitoring of Pannonian Saline Grasslands Based on True Bugs
The aim of the project is to continue the study on distribution and ecology of true bugs related to saline habitats in northern Serbia. Research will be focused on census of fauna in the Tisa basin and Banat region, but also to human activities that endanger these valuable habitats and its inhabitants.
Our previous project on true bugs of saline habitats supported by the Rufford Foundation mostly covered saline habitats in Bačka (the Danube basin), while this study aims to investigate similar habitats in Banat (the Tisa basin). We selected 7 locations all over Banat as our study sites. Floristically very valuable saline grasslands are located in the vicinity of villages Jazovo, Sečanj, Margita, Lokve and Farkaždin. Lakes Rusanda and Okanj represent two of only a few Pannonian alkaline lakes in Serbia.
Saline grasslands and wetlands of the Pannonian region are mainly recognized as Important Plant Areas (IPAs) and/or Important Bird Areas (IBAs), but these areas could also be the key locations for insect conservation in northern Serbia. Saline habitats usually are not usable for intensive agriculture because of their unfavorable groundwater regime and high salt content in the soil. Consequently, vegetation of these areas is very specific and supports unique communities of true bugs having some of the species, as are Solenoxyphus fuscovenosus and Conostethus hungaricus, adapted to feed on rare halophilous plants exclusively. European distribution of these true bug specialists is limited on the Pannonian region, and populations in Vojvodina represent the most southwestern and border populations of these species.
The list of the true bug species from saline habitats in Banat will be supplemented to the data gained by the previous Rufford project. Data about the season, vegetation type, species distribution and composition will enrich our knowledge on ecology of true bugs in the Pannonian Serbia. Information on the state of plant cover, threats and human activities will help in planning of conservation management strategies in these locations.
Alongside the scientific part of the project, we plan to work on the popularisation of nature conservation in Serbia. The importance of biodiversity conservation and its benefits for local communities is something that the general public in Serbia is mostly not aware of, thus all efforts made in this domain are very significant. Widening of the research team is one of the main goals of the project. Recruitment of new team members will not just help in realisation of the project, but will also contribute to schooling of young entomologists, the next generation of researchers and conservationists in Serbia.