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Hedl R.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Kopecky M.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Kopecky M.,Charles University | Komarek J.,Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic
Diversity and Distributions

Aim: Lowland woodlands in Europe went through dramatic changes in management in the past century. This article investigates the influence of two key factors, abandonment of coppicing and increased pressure of ungulates, in thermophilous oakwoods. We focused on three interconnected topics: (1) Has the assumed successional trend lead to impoverishment of the vegetation assemblages? (2) Has it resulted in vegetation homogenization? (3) Are the thermophilous oakwoods loosing their original character? Location: Czech Republic, Central Europe. Methods: The vegetation in 46 semi-permanent plots was recorded three times: firstly, shortly after the abandonment of coppicing (1953) and then, after four to six decades of secondary succession and strong game impact (1992 and 2006). Overall trends and changes in species spectra were analysed. Results: There is a marked successional shift towards species-poorer communities growing in cooler, moister and nutrient-richer conditions. The change was significantly different in parts affected and unaffected by high numbers of ungulates yet only for herbs, not the woody species. However, observed change in species composition was not accompanied by significant homogenization process that is the general process reported from elsewhere. A sharp decline in plant species typical for thermophilous woodland communities and in endangered species indicates that the original character of the woodland has been gradually lost. Main conclusions: Thermophilous oakwoods have been largely replaced by mesic forests. Lowland oakwoods in continental parts of Europe historically depended on active management, which kept the understorey conditions light and warm. Successional processes in the 20th century caused a critical loss of species diversity at various spatial levels. However, artificially high numbers of ungulates, which otherwise have a negative impact, probably held up succession, so that the changes may still be reversible. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

An updated check-list of the aquatic and semi-aquatic bugs of Croatia is provided. Altogether, we list 14 families and 59 species (Nepidae - 2, Belostomatidae - 1, Ochteridae - 1, Micronectidae - 2, Corixidae - 21, Naucoridae - 1, Aphelocheiridae - 1, Notonectidae - 7, Pleidae - 1, Mesoveliidae - 2, Hebridae - 2, Hydrometridae - 1, Veliidae - 7, Gerridae - 10). However, for 11 of the listed spe- cies no exact locality record has ever been published. Five species, Micronecta minutissima (Lin- naeus, 1758), Velia caprai Tamanini, 1947, Velia rivulorum (Fabricius, 1775), Velia saulii Tamanini, 1947, and Limnoporus rufoscutellatus (Latreille, 1807) are omitted from the list for the time being due to the lack of reliable records. Based on an examination of new material, we provide two new re- cords for Croatia - Corixa panzeri Fieber, 1848 and Sigara semistriata (Fieber, 1848), first exact records of Hesperocorixa linnaei (Fieber, 1848) and Notonecta meridionalis Poisson, 1926, as well as new find- ings of Aphelocheirus aestivalis (Fabricius, 1803) and Anisops sardeus sardeus Herrich-Schaeffer, 1843 not recorded from Croatia for many decades. Source

Horak J.,Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening | Horak J.,Czech University of Life Sciences | Chobot K.,Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic | Horakova J.,Czech University of Life Sciences
Journal for Nature Conservation

Since the beginning of the new millennium, many conservation biologists and forest managers have been discussing the future of European forests. Historical evidence shows that the diversity of saproxylic beetles, a key measure of forest biodiversity, has declined at a frightening pace. Most of the data regarding species-rich forests were collected during a period when most European forests were managed using traditional management practices. We present extinction and genesis of relictual distribution of Cucujus haematodes, one of the three most endangered saproxylic beetles in the EU. We also analyse and compare threats to its presence and extinction according to forest history, management and current conditions in European forests. Our review showed that one of the main aims of conservation efforts relating to saproxylic beetles should focus on the refinement of the profound effects of commercial forestry and on respect for forest history and traditional forest management. Traditional management practices and their principles present one solution to the problem of decreasing forest biodiversity. We believe that our review can help stop the decrease of forest biodiversity in an era when people and large institutions are increasingly concerned about nature and the environment. © 2011 Elsevier GmbH. Source

Novobilsky A.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Kasny M.,Charles University | Kasny M.,Masaryk University | Beran L.,Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic | And 2 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors

Background: Lymnaea palustris and L. fuscus are members of the European stagnicolines (Gastropoda: Lymnaeidae). The role of stagnicolines in transmission of Fasciola hepatica has been often proposed. To assess the possible relationship between these two stagnicolines and F. hepatica in Sweden, field monitoring in parallel with experimental infections of L. palustris and L. fuscus were conducted. Methods. Stagnicoline snails were collected and identified on pastures grazed by either sheep or cattle on four farms suffering from fasciolosis in Sweden during 2011-2012. Field-collected L. palustris and L. fuscus were examined for F. hepatica DNA by PCR. In the laboratory, different age groups of L. palustris, L. fuscus and G. truncatula were each exposed to two F. hepatica miracidia and main infection characteristics were obtained. Results: One field-collected L. palustris (out of n = 668) contained F. hepatica as determined by PCR. On the other hand, stagnicolines artificially exposed to F. hepatica miracidia resulted in successful infection with fully differentiated cercariae, but only in juvenile snails (size, 1-2 mm at exposure) and with a prevalence of 51% and 13% in L. palustris and L. fuscus, respectively. In contrast, 90% of juvenile (size, 1-2 mm) and 92% of preadult G. truncatula (size, ≥ 2-4 mm), respectively, were successfully infected. Delayed, reduced and/or no spontaneous cercarial shedding was observed in the two stagnicolines when compared to G. truncatula. However, at snail dissection most cercariae from L. fuscus and L. palustris were able to encyst similarly to those from G. truncatula. Conclusion: Both L. fuscus and L. palustris can sustain larval development of F. hepatica but with an apparent level of age resistance. The finding of a single F. hepatica positive specimen of L. palustris, together with infection characteristics from the experimental infection, suggest that L. palustris is a more suitable snail vector of F. hepatica than L. fuscus. The reduced growth observed in both stagnicolines was contrary to the 'parasitic gigantism' theory. Overall, it seems that the epidemiological role of L. palustris in transmission of F. hepatica in Sweden is likely to be much lower than for G. truncatula. © 2013 Novobilský et al. Source

Beran L.,Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic
Natura Croatica

This paper presents the results of a malacological survey of the Korana, a river in central Croatia and west Bosnia and Herzegovina belonging to the Danube drainage area (Black Sea basin). The river has a natural character over most of its course except for several weirs and a short river section at Karlovac. Freshwater molluscs of this river at 13 sites between its outflow from Plitvice Lakes and inflow to the Kupa River at Karlovac were studied from 2009 to 2012. Molluscan assemblages of the first two sites are composed of only 3 species (Holandriana holandrii, Radix auricularia, R. labiata). Drying of the river stream is the probable reason for poor malacofauna at these two sites located in the upper part of the Korana. Rich molluscan assemblages comprising from 10 (site No. 3 and 4) to 22 (site No. 13) species were documented at other 11 sites. Altogether 33 aquatic molluscs (21 gastropods, 12 bivalves) were found in the Korana River. Theodoxus danubialis, Esperiana esperi, Microcolpia daudebartii, Holandriana holandrii and Bithynia tentaculata were dominant at most of the sites. Their numerous populations constituted the dominant component of molluscan biomass. The endangered thick-shelled river mussel Unio crassus was recorded at 11 sites and this finding probably means the existence of a numerous and continual population. The existence of a population of Unio crasus is very important and needs more detailed research. The occurrence of three non-native molluscs (Physella acuta, Ferrissia fragilis, Sinanodonta woodiana) was documented. Results of this research were compared with previous investigations and also with molluscan assemblages of the adjacent part of the Kupa River. Source

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