Thursday, September 11, 2014

Natura 2000 project: Surveying with P.S. Economidis

A.N. Economou, former Directer of IMBRIW- HCMR with P.S. Economidis (R): Two important ichthyologists under Mt Iti.
Sept 11th 2014

Panos S. Economidis, Professor Emeritus of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a pioneering Greek ichthyologist. A foundation-scientist of Greek ichthyology, especially important in shaping our understanding of freshwater fishes, their systematics and biogeography. 

It was a real pleasure to be in the field again with this legend of fish systematics - a man who has been active in Greek ichthyology since the early 1960s. He continues to be active writing and participating in research; he is now 80 years old. 

He has done so much for Greek ichthyology yet most of this work is unknown by the wider public in Greece. No other ichthyologist has published so much and such important natural history aspects in this country. For me some of his most important achievements include: "Catalogue of the Fishes of Greece" (1973); the amazingly descriptive and interpretive PhD on freshwater fishes of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (1974); his work on systematics of many endemic fishes (The goby family; Barbus, Cobitis and other genera); his biogeographical regionalization work (e.g. with Banarescu 1991); his "Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of Greece" (1991) and his pioneering species conservation assessment work. He has also written widely on many issues in the popularized literature, both on freshwater and marine fishes. Economidis's career included many fruitful collaborations with foriegn big-name scientists who visited Greece to work with him on the taxonomy of fishes. He and his associates discovered several fishes new to science in our waters. Professor Peter J. Miller named an entire genus of fish in his honour: Economidichthys. And there are fishes honouring him with reference to his name: Salaria economidisi and Rutilus panosi. Under the tutelage of the Late Professor Antonis Kanellis, Economidis also pioneered carefully constructed common names and standardized them during his contributions in two National Red Data books. He coordinated the conservation assessment of threatened fishes in the latest National Red Data list in 2009. 

Economidis is a strict and hard scientist working in a country that is wonderfully chaotic but 'soft' about issues such as fish conservation. He has been out-spoken and often a confrontational conservation and fishery management critic. He has a beautiful command of the Greek language and has a photographic memory - going back many decades. I do not agree with all he says, but every time we meet I urge him to write more, especially the popularized aspects and the history of the science in Greece. I enjoy a good and long discussion with him, especially on the history of early fish research, on places and species systematics; and on famous and not-so-famous persona of our field. Three days with Economidis is not enough. 

Here I share some snapshots of our three-day survey trip from Sperchios to Mornos rivers. The legendary fish-man of Greece, Economidis, was accompanied by Vasiliki Chrysopolytou of the Greek Biotope and Wetland Center (EKBY), my personal mentor A.N. Economou, and our super field ichthyologist, Vassilis Tachos from HCMR. All this within the frame of our Natura 2000 fish survey project.

Economidis: In active discussion on the biogeography of freshwater fishes, Moschochori Village, Sperchios Delta.

Economidis and Zogaris:  I feel like 'standing on the shoulders of giants", a great privilege to learn from a legendary fish-man.
The Natura 2000 fish crew: Exploring reed-choked canals in the upper part of the Sperchios river delta. 
Keeping Protocol: Vasiliki Chrysopolitou from EKBY helps in the quality control aspects of the survey method.
View from the Sperchios marshes ditch. Where are the fish? (Only three species caught here). 
One of the upper Sperchios Delta's canals with cool spring waters and seven species of fish! 

Sperchios canal was full with Marathon Minnows and many amphipods.
Top: Three-spined Stickleback; Bottom: Greek Stickleback. The latter one of the rarest fishes in Europe!

Sampling with the seine net in the river-mouth of the Achinos Stream near Karavomylos (Maliakos Gulf).
Grey mullets are typical transients in small river mouths such as the Achinos.
An unexpected catch: A huge marine prawn (Penaeidae) had entered the river mouth at the Achinos river.
Vassilis electrofishing in a spring-fed canal in the Mornos Delta. Super hot-spot for rare fishes....but hard to catch.
Vassilis Tachos HCMR's super field ichthyologist checking and re-checking the habitat and pressures protocol, on site at Mornos Delta. 
The freshwater blenny, Salaria fluviatilis, one of my favorite inland waters fishes - in the spring fed canals of Mornos.
Beach seine netting for estuarine fishes in the Mornos Delta. 

Unidentified and uncaptured fish, biggish bottom feeders: potentially Albanian Barbels Luciobarbus albanicus.

Economou and Chrysopolitou: Taking careful notes of fishes caught during the electrofishing survey.

Super-clear cold spring waters extremely important for endemic fishes: This area that is just beyond the boundaries of the local Mornos Delta Natura 2000 protected area: Boundaries should change...

1 comment:

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