25 Mar 2019
True Bugs (Heteroptera) of Halophytic Habitats in Vojvodina – Providing Data for Conservation and Popularisation of a Neglected Insect Group
True Bugs (Heteroptera) of Halophytic Habitats in Vojvodina (part II) – Opportunities for True Bugs Conservation in the Banat Region
The aim of the project is to explore various possibilities of using true bugs in evaluation of the quality and conservation importance of saline grasslands in Vojvodina. A rapid assessment method based on screening of target species should provide fast but useful information about the overall condition of a habitat. On the other hand, continuous monitoring of true bugs should ensure explicit details on how the changed habitat features caused by management influence biodiversity of saline grasslands on a fine scale.
True bugs are one of the most abundant and diverse group of insects in the Pannonian saline grasslands, whereas recognizable insect indicators, such as pollinators are almost absent. These insects are tightly connected to particular microhabitats or vegetation types and their dispersal abilities are mostly limited, therefore, they react immediately with change in species richness or community composition to any habitat disturbance, especially if it involves changes in plant cover. Guided by these facts the project aims to implement rapid assessment and monitoring methods by using true bugs in the evaluation of Pannonian saline grasslands.
Rapid assessment of biodiversity and habitats have been increasingly used as a method for fast area evaluation of its conservation importance. Rapid assessment protocols are mostly non-destructive and provide quite reliable and valuable information for conservation planning. Our rapid assessment protocols will be based on checking areas of interest for the presence of a few true bug target species (saline grassland specialists and rare steppe species) and getting information about the overall condition of habitat.
Continuous monitoring of true bugs should ensure details on how the changed habitat features caused by management, influence the biodiversity of saline grasslands on a fine scale. Nowadays grazing herds are absent from the huge area of saline grasslands in Vojvodina and grass biomass has to be removed from these habitats if we want to preserve unique plant communities. Accordingly, we should evaluate an alternative management practice, like mowing and its influence on grassland’s true bugs as representatives of local insect community.
Highly populated and intensively used areas like the Pannonian plain need urgent conservation measures to save fragments of their (semi)natural habitats and fragile species. In order to contribute to this purpose, we will try to design evaluation protocols that would be informative and easily measured and based on the indicator features of true bugs.