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Biospeleological activities in Central Europe - A status report

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Catalogues of cave fauna from Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany (Swabian Alb, Franconian Alb, Westfalia, Hesse, Harz, Rhenish Palatinate and Saarland), and Luxembourg are available. Several activities deal with public relations, education, and training: the cave animal of the year, a camp for young cavers, the day nature, and the biospeleological workgroup. The German Barcoding of Life is a project which aims to obtain CO1 barcodes from every species in Germany with a sub-project on cave fauna. Special projects deal with Bythiospeum, niphargids, diplurans, sphaerocerids, and the biodiversity and ecology of cave invertebrates in the Central European Uplands.
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Biospeleological activities in Central Europe – a status report 59
Biospeleological activities in Central Europe –
a status report
Dieter Weber1,2
1 Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, CP 160/12, Université libre de Bruxelles, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, B-1050
Brussels, Belgium 2 Kirchgasse 124, D-67454 Hassloch, Germany
Corresponding author: Dieter Weber (dieter.weber124@gmx.de)
Academic editor: O. Moldovan|Received 19 April 2016| Accepted 6 June 2017 | Published 18 July2017
http://zoobank.org/6DBDBC9D-8BC0-443E-A4BD-11BBB852E3E9
Citation: Weber D (2017) Biospeleological activities in Central Europe – a status report. Subterranean Biology 22:
59–65. https://doi.org/10.3897/subtbiol.22.13297
Abstract
Catalogues of cave fauna from Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany (Swabian Alb, Franconian Alb,
Westfalia, Hesse, Harz, Rhenish Palatinate and Saarland), and Luxembourg are available. Several activities
deal with public relations, education, and training: the cave animal of the year, a camp for young cavers,
the day nature, and the biospeleological workgroup. e German Barcoding of Life is a project which
aims to obtain CO1 barcodes from every species in Germany with a sub-project on cave fauna. Special
projects deal with Bythiospeum, niphargids, diplurans, sphaerocerids, and the biodiversity and ecology of
cave invertebrates in the Central European Uplands.
Zusammenfassung
Es gibt Höhlenfaunenkataloge von Belgien, der Schweiz, Österreich, Deutschland (Schwäbische Alb,
Fränkische Alb, Westfalen, Hessen, Harz und Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland) und Luxemburg. Verschiedene
Aktivitäten befassen sich mit Öentlichkeitsarbeit und Schulungen; Das Höhlentier des Jahres, ein Trai-
ningslager für junge Höhlenforscher, der Tag der Natur und eine biospeläologische Arbeitsgruppe. Das
Projekt „German Barcoding of Life“ versucht CO1-Barcodes aller deutschen Arten zu erstellen. Es hat
ein Unterprojekt zur Höhlenfauna. Tiergruppenspezische Projekte behandeln Bythiospeum, Niphargen,
Dipluren, Sphaeroceriden und Biodiversität und Ökologie von Höhlenevertebraten der zentraleuropäi-
schen Mittelgebirge.
Keywords
Biodiversity assessment reports, public relations, education, Bythiospeum, Niphargidae, Diplura, Sphaero-
ceridae
Subterranean Biology 22: 59–65 (2017)
doi: 10.3897/subtbiol.22.13297
http://subtbiol.pensoft.net
Copyright Dieter Weber. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
FORUM PAPER
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Dieter Weber / Subterranean Biology 22: 59–65 (2017)
60
Introduction
is text gives an overview of important past and recent biospeleological activities
in “Central Europe”. e Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland
and Austria belong to “Central Europe” in this context. e area is therefore not iden-
tical to the geographic denition of Central Europe. Activities on bats are not included
in this paper.
Biodiversity assessment of cave fauna
In many karstic and non karstic areas in Central Europe summarizing biodiversity as-
sessment reports have been published: Belgium (Leruth 1939 with 600 species), Swit-
zerland (Strinati 1965 with 513 species), Austria (Strouhal and Vornatscher 1975),
Swabian Alb (Dobat 1975 with 289 species), Franconian Alb (Dobat 1978 with 491
species), Westfalia (Weber 1991 with 1084 species), Hesse (Zaenker 2001 with 3259
species, ongoing), Harz (Hartmann 2004 with 224 species), Luxembourg (Weber
2013 with 390 species online available [https://www.mnhn.lu/science/2013/03/15/
ferrantia-69/], ongoing), Rhenish Palatinate and Saarland (Weber 1988, 1989, 1995,
2001, 2012 with 2600 species, ongoing).
In addition, many smaller publications on the cave fauna of other areas, dealing
mostly with one specic animal group, are available and contain additional information.
e assessment of the cave fauna and its documentation in Central Europe is
therefore comprehensive, although in some areas it is unfortunately not up to date.
Public relations, education, and trainings
Cave animal of the year
e idea of a cave animal of the year arose during the yearly conference of the Society
of German Cave and Karst explorers in 2008. It has the following aims: inform the
public that caves are sensitive and fragile biotopes, raise the importance of caves to
authorities and NGOs, cave fauna and their protection, motivate cavers working on
biospeleology, and protection of subterranean ecosystems.
Sinces then, one species has been selected every year as “Cave Animal of the Year,”
to indicate the importance of caves not only to their permanent inhabitants but also
to hibernating species. Eutroglobiontic, eutroglophilie and subtroglophile species have
alternated.
Every year, posters and yers are printed. A presentation on the cave animal of the
year and an internet homepage (http://www.hoehlentier.de/) are available. e home-
page contains information on the species, photos and a press release.
Biospeleological activities in Central Europe – a status report 61
Table 1. Cave animals of the year from 2009 until 2017.
2009 Niphargus sp.
2010 Scoliopteryx libatrix
2011 Myotis myotis
2012 Meta menardi
2013 Speolepta leptogaster
2014 Proasellus cavaticus
2015 Oxychilus cellarius
2016 Amilenus aurantiacus
2017 Diphyus quadripunctorius
Figure 1. Homepage of the cave animal of the year.
JuHöFoLa – Camp for young cavers
e “JuHöFoLa” (http://www.juhoefola.de/) is a training camp for young cavers
with participants from all over Europe. It is held in Germany and is conducted in
English. It consists of two weeks training with three days on biospeleology. e
biospeleological part consists of short collecting trips to caves and springs in the
morning, sorting/determination of the collected specimes and a theoretical session
in the afternoon.
e next JuHöFoLa is planned for summer 2018.
Dieter Weber / Subterranean Biology 22: 59–65 (2017)
62
Day of nature
e day of nature (previously: day of biodiversity; http://www.geo.de/natur/tag-der-
artenvielfalt/9274-rtkl-das-projekt-geo-tag-der-artenvielfalt-2016) is sponsored by the
journal GEO and the KfW foundation. It aims to identify as many species as possible
in one day and is held once a year in alternating regions.
For the last 5 years, biospeleologists have been oering collecting trips to caves,
mines or springs and have published the results (Blick et al. 2014; Fritze et al. 2014).
Biospeleological workgroup
e biospeleological workgroup, created in 2016 at Eurospeleo in the Yorkshire Dales,
is an e-mail information exchange system for all biospeleologists. As of the end of
2016, it had 36 participants. E-mails can be sent by every participant on all biospeleo-
logical topics anytime.
All biospeleologists are invited to join (hannes@bigwalls.de)!
DNA barcoding
“e GBOL = German Barcoding of Life” (https://www.bolgermany.de/) is a project
in cooperation with several German museums and institutes, with the target to obtain
Figure 2. Determination of cave animals in the “lab” during the JuHöFoLa (Photo: Otto Schwabe).
Biospeleological activities in Central Europe – a status report 63
CO1 barcodes from 10 specimens of every species that has been found in Germany
(the barcodes need not be from specimens collected in Germany).
A special sub-project under the head of Alexander Weigand, University of Duis-
burg-Essen (WeigandA@gmx.net) deals with cave fauna. As of December 2016, 381
cavernicolous species and several thousand specimens have been barcoded.
Topics on special animal groups
Bythiospeum
A project at the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart deals with the caverni-
colous snail genus Bythiospeum, with the aim to learn about the phylogentics, biogeo-
graphy and diversity of this genus in Europe. First results have been published (Richling
et al. 2016). Ira Richling is in charge (ira.richling@smns-bw.de).
Niphargids
A project at the Université libre de Bruxelles, under the head of Jean-François Flot,
to resolve various questions on the cavernicolous shrimp family Niphargidae started
in 2016. It aims to compare the phylogeny and taxonomy of the niphargids, estimate
species richness, nd cryptic species, identify distributional patterns delineation and
to analyze the eects of the last Quaternary glaciation on both species richness and
distribution. Central Europe, where specimens are still needed from the constituent
countries is managed by Dieter Weber (dieter.weber124@gmx.de).
Diplura
e target of the Diplura project, a cooperation of several universities and museums, is
to compile a catalogue of all cave diplurans in Central Europe, including their phylo-
genetic description. Alberto Sendra (Alberto.Sendra@uv.es) is in charge.
Sphaeroceridae
After knowledge was gained of the cave dwelling y family Sphaeroceridae in certain
regions (Rhenish Palatinate and Saarland, Bährmann and Weber, 2008; Luxembourg,
Bährmann and Weber 2013), the intention of this project is to improve the knowledge
of sphaerocerids in caves within the missing regions. Point of contact is Dieter Weber
(dieter.weber124@gmx.de).
Dieter Weber / Subterranean Biology 22: 59–65 (2017)
64
Biodiversity and ecology of cave invertebrates in the Central European Uplands
A comprehensive project in cooperation with the University of Duisburg-Essen and
the National Museum of Natural History Luxembourg deals with the biodiversity and
ecology of selected species of cave invertebrates in the Central European Uplands.
One target is to compare subtroglophile species (Limonia nubeculosa, Scoliopteryx liba-
trix, Triphosa dubitata) with eutroglophile species (Meta menardi, Metellina merianae,
Gammarus pulex, Discus rotundatus, Oxychilus draparnaudi, Speolepta leptogaster), and
eutroglobiontic species (Niphargus schellenbergi, Porrhomma convexum, Trichoniscoides
helveticus). Alexander Weigand (WeigandA@gmx.net) is in charge of this project.
Acknowledgements
I thank Jean-François Flot and Lee Knight for the revision of the English.
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The current study investigates the Central European groundwater snails of the genus Bythiospeum which are currently regarded as highly diverse with a hotspot in south-western Germany coupled with high rates of endemism. This systematic concept combined with the fragility of their habitat results in a high rate of threatened species (76–96 %). The analyses of the mitochondrial COI fragment of nearly 200 specimens from 35 localities in Germany, Switzerland and marginally Austria and France including type localities of 14 taxa revealed five well-distinguished clades with genetic distances from 3.6 to 16.4 % while variability within clades and populations is very low. Morphological investigations focused on parts of the reproductive systems showed rather great uniformity with only minor differences in penis shape, size and localisation. Previous species concepts based on conchology and morphology do not correspond to the current results, and shell shape is suspected as poor indicator for species delineation. Our data indicate a significantly lower diversity in Central Europe, e.g. only three species occurring in Germany instead of 25. Taxonomic implications of our hypothesis are given and discussed. Accordingly, most of the German populations belong to Bythiospeum acicula (Held, 1838) while B. husmanni (C. R. Boettger, 1963) is a very restricted relict. In comparison with other groundwater organisms, two of the more northerly distributed species show a large range stretching over at least 410 or 490 km respectively. Post-glacial re-colonisation from refugia is discussed as most likely explanation of the recent distribution pattern.
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