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Poster shown during the workshop at Rovereto (Italy), the 20 October 2018

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Abstract Poster: Relationship between Orthoptera richness and pastoralism in Mediterranean mountains of southern Balkans. The threatened genus Peripodisma used as a key indicator to point out the negative impact of introduction of non-indigenous breeds of cattle. Michèle Lemonnier-Darcemont (1), Vassiliki Kati (2), Luc Willemse (3), Christian Darcemont (1) (1) Corresponding author. G.E.E.M., P.O. Box 60, 48060 Parga, Greece. Email: Lemonniergeem@free.fr (2) Depart. of Biological Applications and Technology, University of Ioannina, 45110 Ioannina, Greece. E-mail: vkati@uoi.gr (3) Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Darwinweg 2, Postbus 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands. Email: luc.willemse@naturalis.nl This study examined the effects of pastoralism, including cattle grazing, on populations of three species of locally endemic and rare Peripodisma grasshoppers in calcareous grassland mountain habitats of northwestern Greece and southern Albania. The three Peripodisma species (P. tymphii, P. llofizii, P. ceraunii) are included in the 2016 IUCN Red List as respectively near threatened, endangered, and critically endangered species, and cattle grazing had been identified as a key threat to the species. All three species are Oro-Mediterranean species that occur above 1100 m elevation, and have similar habitat preferences. The study sites represented 70% of the known locations of Peripodisma genus. The region was historically grazed by local breeds of nomadic sheep and goats, but changes in pastoralism have emerged in recent decades, particularly in Greece, due to links with the European Economic Community. Grazing practices had recently shifted to cattle grazing from non-local cattle breeds in some studied sites. We found a clear relationship between local abundance of Peripodisma and overall richness of Orthoptera communities on the studied sites. The « overall richness of Orthoptera community » is an indicator composed of a combination of Species richness (Number of different species), Quality of richness of the community (Ratio of species with low ecological valence, i.e. narrow ecological amplitude, found on the site to the total number of species recorded), Equitability index (Predominance or not of some species) and Richness of vulnerable species (Relative abundance of low ecological valence species). Due to its conservation status and its relationship with overall Orthoptera richness, the use of the genus Peripodisma as an indicator genus for the environmental health of grazed montane vegetation formations, seems an appropriate choice. Overall Orthoptera richness decreased at sites with medium to high impacts of livestock grazing. Cattle grazing had significant adverse effects on overall Orthoptera communities’ richness and on Peripodisma abundance. Cattle generally arrive earlier in the season (due to their wider foraging habits) and compete early and directly with phytophagous species of Orthoptera, unlike sheep which are present only in summer on these pastures. This is particularly the case with Peripodisma (Peripodisma diet is mainly forbs). Moreover, the introduction of breeds of cattle into inappropriate lands (lands very different from the original land of the breed), induces a quick process of degradation through the decrease of the herbaceous field layer. Further studies are urgently needed to gather more data and information to guide grazing management and conservation planning that will provide a more balanced coexistence between livestock and Orthoptera, especially for the rare Peripodisma species that are in dire need of conservation management.
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