Joint press release by Riverwatch and EuroNatur
++ Previously unknown caddisfly and stonefly species discovered in Mavrovo National Park. Species endangered due to hydropower development. ++
Vienna, Radolfzell, August 12, 2015. One doesn’t have to travel to the Amazonas or descent to the depths of the sea in order to discover new species. A closer look at the Balkans is enough. In collaboration with Wolfram Graf, assistant professor at the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, a team of scientists has discovered three previously unknown aquatic insect species inside the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia: the caddisfly species Drusus krpachi and Potamophylax lemezes as well as the stonefly species Siphonoperla korab.
The specific way of life of these species is yet to be explored, though in general, caddis- and stoneflies spend up to three years in their larval stage in wells, creeks and rivers. Afterwards, they turn into flying insects which lay their eggs into the water within a matter of weeks.
Only just discovered, the species are already at risk of extinction, since the Macedonian government plans the construction of 22 hydropower plants inside the Mavrovo National Park. This would affect also those creeks in which these species find habitat. “Hydropower plants – and the water drainage and impoundment that comes with it – put these sensitive species that are particularly local in distribution at risk of extinction”, says Worfram Graf.
Yet, discovering these three species in the Mavrovo National Park is not an isolated incident. “Alone in the last 5 years, approximately 15-20 new aquatic insects have been found in the Balkans. We assume that many more species are yet to be discovered. The water bodies on the Balkan Peninsula are among the ecologically most valuable and most fascinating habitats on Earth”, Wolfram Graf continues.
However, this hotspot for biodiversity is at risk of destruction. Many species might go extinct without ever being discovered. More than 2,000 hydropower plants are projected between Slovenia and Albania, over 800 of them within protected areas.
The rivers on the Balkan Peninsula are threatened by are true dam craze. In order to counteract this spate of destruction, RiverWatch and EuroNatur have launched the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign in cooperation with local partner in the respective Balkan countries. Find out more here: http://www.balkanrivers.net/
Fact sheet for download: “Investigation of caddisflies fauna in the National Park Mavrovo”