1. 9. 2019 – 31. 5. 2022
PI / SubBioLab Coordinator:
Dinarides in the Western Balkans are well known as a global hotspot of subterranean species richness. Despite this, the unique subterranean fauna is highly endangered. High level of threat is also related to an unfortunate combination of incomplete knowledge on subterranean biodiversity and of ambitious economic-developmental plans. In this project, we will 1) develop new tools for rapid assessment of subterranean biodiversity and 2) promote their use in the local environment by local stakeholders. We will promote the biological research in subterranean habitats, especially caves, but also other subterranean habitats. The activities will target areas of Trebišnjica river catchment in southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, and will be directed toward selected subterranean taxa. A large part of the project will present field and laboratory work. We aim to fill the knowledge gap on species’ inventories and species’ distributions, resolve the remaining taxonomic issues and develop DNA barcoding system for routine species identification. In addition, we will propose the status of selected subterranean taxa according to IUCN Red List criteria. We will organize all the data into a database that will be delivered to local stakeholders and authorities. In order to transfer the knowledge to the region, we will organize an intensive course in Slovenia for the most promising students from Bosnia and Herzegovina for training in field and lab methods and techniques. We will also organize a workshop for local students and interested researchers/conservationists, as well as a final conference for all researchers and cavers from a broader Dinaric region at the end of the project. All activities will be conducted in close collaboration with key local stakeholders, which are crucial for local implementation as well as long-term continuation of the project outcomes and tools.