Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Paper: Fish in an intermittent river



Towering White Poplar near the village of Vrondama along an intermittent section of the Evrotas


New Paper: Fish in an intermittent river

Our fish team at IMBRIW - HCMR has been studying the Evrotas river for a long time. Alkis Economou and others, including Roberta Barbieri, did lots of investigative work there in the '90s. Kottelat and Barbieri described a new fish there (the Evrotas Minnow, Pelasgus laconicus in 2004). And the river has become a kind of Long Term Research Area especially after '05 with the a series of projects promoted primarily by Nikos Skoulikidis. Our aspiring PhD student, Leonidas Vardakas who hails from Sparta, has done his best to work on the river's fish assemblages, the drought effects and other applied ichthyological issues. I wish him a good ending to the PhD in 2016!   

 Our recent paper, analyzes patterns in spatial and temporal distribution of fish communities in the Evrotas. The river hosts three endemic range-restricted species of high conservation interest. The distribution patterns of fish assemblages, which also include marine transients and migratory fishes such as the Eel has been poorly studied in eastern Medterranean streams. These analyses are important for river type classifications (biotic typologies, WFD assessment applications) and they support conservation planning and actions. 

For further information please read: 

Vardakas et al. 2015

To find out why the Evrotas River is called an "artificially intermittent" river please read:

Skoulikidis et al. 2011

All photos below are from early expeditions to the river; the fish photos are all take at the bridge of Skala in the Evrotas Delta in 2006. 


The springs just upstream of the bridge of Sparti. Most of the fishes are Spartian Minnowroach. 

View of the Evrotas in late summer from the bridge of Skala.



The Vrodamas Gorge. Our research this year in the Natura Fish Project helped promote the proposal for the extension of the Natura 2000 site of the Evrotas Delta to include this remarkable small canyon.

Emblematic species: Evrotas Chub. Yes, totally exclusivelly locally endemic!

Grey mullet species such as this Chelon sp. are very common in the lower part of the river. 

One of my personal favorites, the River Blenny.

The Spartian Minnowroach was known in Greek by the peculiar name "Bafa" a true and crazy misnomer which we changed to Χρυσή Μενίδα (Golden Minnow). Its a beautiful fish. 

Spartian Minnowroach (above) and Evrotas Chub (below) for comparison.

Map of the Evrotas river basin in Southern Greece showing fish sampling sites along the river's longitudinal axis (published in Vardakas et al. 2015)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Stavrakas and Skareas: Birds of Attika!



Birds of Attika

Autumn 2015, Wild Greece Editions, Athens 

This is a big win for Modern Greek literature. Its a multi-purpose, richly illustrated account of the avifauna of Attika, the region around Athens. Written my friends Lefteris Stavrakas - a renowned amateur birder here in Athens and friend Spyros Skareas an agricultural scientist and avid birder and bee-keeper. Both of them lead birding tours 'round Athens and Greece, so they know the birding audience really well. Both are keen conservationists who give a lot of their time volunteering to save places. So, this book is crafted from the heart. It is real and rare. Especially for Modern Greek letters.

Now most of my audience perhaps doesn't know that natural history in modern Greece is really lagging behind many other countries in Europe. So this kind of book can really do good and can really change paradigms about how the public "sees" places. I find great scientific, tourism and educational interest in this book.

Scientific Interest
"Birds of Attika" (Τα Πουλιά της Αττικής) is a guide with a lot of careful scientifically-checked material that has never been published before. The most important aspect is the annotated checklist showcasing 309 species. There is lots to learn from this list. For me one of the best things in the book is the list!

Tourism - Outdoor Recreation
The book describes "where to find birds" in Attika for the first time (it is one of the few such tools in Greece - other include work on Crete, Lesvos, Northern Greece). There is no other such account published anywhere for Attika - and in fact, Attica always had a lot of bad press about its nature. Clear maps and directions are provided and they prove that these top sites are really worth visiting. Attika is split up into five areal units. The best sites are described in detail within each areal unit. Some sites such as the Erythres plain and the Assopos Gorge will surprise even the avid Athenian birder.

Education
The book can really help environmental education in Athens and Attika. Teachers, educators, scientists, academics etc will now be able to lead their students for birding forays.  Also its a great idea to teach teachers and educators to use birds in engaging in students and learning. The book also gives a lot of information on other wildlife, plants, wildflowers etc. that enrich wider natural history learning.

Generally the book is wonderfully illustrated - amazing photographs of birds will enthuse new-commers to the sport. Paschalis Dougalis has also lent his real-to-life bird paintings.

Finally, if I may say a few things that I didn't like in the book. First the graphics art is a little "old fashioned", for example, postage stamp-sized pics for landscapes. Some landscapes are truly beautiful, they need more space. The photography is superb, but it would be nice to say where the bird photos are from; some are not from Attika- its OK but maybe they should say so (i.e. the incongruous photo of a flock of Red-breasted Geese is a little of a shock). A first edition of a book like this could not be without tiny errors, I even found one in the checklist. These tiny issues do not diminish the quality of the book. The book is already a very large and substantial undertaking (236 pages) so it is understandable that the photos must be small. Also I agree with the book's relatively compact field-guide size. You need to take it along for directions....

I highly recommend the book as a gift to anyone. Even a non-Greek reader will gain a lot from it. Its also a really eccentric topic for the Greek audience, anybody giving it to an Athenian will be remembered with deep gratitude. The book is a big win for modern Greek literature.  And I do hope it is published in English ASAP.

Best of luck to the book - I hope it is widely distributed. 






Friday, December 25, 2015

Kampos Karystou Euboea Greece

I have been visiting and taking nature notes at Vidra Pond since summer 1984. This is a personal pilgrimage so please excuse the selfie.


Kampos Karystou Evia (Euboea) Greece
December 23rd 2015 

One of my home turf sites is the Plain of Karystos, also known as Kampos Karystou. This is located in the southern part of Euboea Island near the tiny port town of Karystos, where there is a very large Natura 2000 area (part of the EU Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas). However the Karystos plain is no longer in the Natura 2000 site because it was excluded from the larger area in 1999 after a band of locals black-mailed the Greek government into effectively shrinking the Natura 2000 site in order not to include the then touristically very valuable coastal area. However, paradoxically the nearby Natura 2000 site is still called OROS OCHI - KAMPOS KARYSTOU - POTAMI - AKROTIRIO KAFIREFS - PARAKTIA THALASSIA ZONI (GR2420001). Anyway...

During the late '90s some locals did something unspeakable in their fear and rage against the inlcusion of their private property within the proposed Natura 2000 protected area. They cut over 200 willows lining the mid Rigia stream and dumped a few hundred truck-loads of construction site debris in the coastal wetlands of Rigia and infilled the artificial ponds of Souvala. The foundations of two large buildings were also built in the middle of Rigia Marsh in an effort to prove that the (wet)land is PRIVATE. These acts of sabotage have disfigured the Karysos Plain's best habitat areas quite a bit, but much wetland still exists and it is still a beautiful plain to enjoy a natural history tour. The unique thing about the plain is that it is enriched by high ground water levels and even during a period of prolonged drought there is still much water. This winter local farmers are complaining about the lack of rain-fall and the weather is automn-like. I visited on a day-trip from Athens (Ferry from the port of Rafina to Marmari) and tallied 37 species of birds during the 4 hour survey. I describe the tour here. 



I started in Karystos driving and stopping at each numbered site. In red is the driven route and in yellow the mini-walks I made at each stop. The tour took place from 11:15 to 15:30 and then I ended up in Marmari to take the ferry back to Athens.

Lala stream river mouth (site 2) just west of Karystos. The landscape is Cycladian almost.

Lala stream (at Pigadi Pasa) just before the river mouth (site 1). Near here was the very famous "Disco Vatrachos" in the mid '80s for those who remember... (Appropriete since Vatrachos means Frog).
Veiw seaward from Rigia Bridge (site 2). The lowermost part of Rigia has permenant water for about 1000 meters - even during the longest droughts. 

Rigia river mouth - a closed "estuary lagoon" (Site 3). This really interesting habitat type is really a closed stream mouth but it does form a near permenant pond on intermittent streams throughout the Aegean. The beach acts as a barrier and breaks only during winter and spring rains. 

Rigia river mouth - reed bed. Site 3.
Rigia river mouth - a closed estuary lagoon. Site 3.
Rigia river mouth and the Rigia marsh (Αλμύρες του Σαραβάνου). Mount Ochi in the Distance. Site 3.
What I consider Otter prints in Rigia marsh. Now you really need to have seen a lot to interpret this from these bad photos in very soft mud. Dog and fox prints where also present. Site 3
Otter prints in Rigia marsh. Site 3. Otters are really scarce on the islands of the Aegean. This plain has a tiny isolated population.
Otter prints in Rigia marsh. Site 3. I add more shots since i am not 100% sure. I found no spraints anywhere.
Glass-worts (probably Salicornia) at Rigia marsh. Sheep trails. Site 3. 

Mid part of Lala Stream. Site 4. 
Vidra Pond. Site 5. 
Vidra Pond. Mount Ochi towers above. Site 5.  This location is on the south side of the pond - the only site where it is possible to peer inside the wetland since it is overgrown all arround. This opening is at:  38° 1'6.38"N,  24°23'46.41"E.
Vidra Pond is an artificial clay pit dug in the early 1970s, it is about half a hectare in size and has Eel, Gambusia, Knipowitschia caucasica goby, and grey-mullets. I saw two or three huge grey-mullets jumping today. Site 5. 


Arundo cf. plyni reed cane in an abandoned field next to Vidra Pond (Site 5.). This is the field you need to cross to access the pond from its south side. The pond is in the distance where the reddish willows are. Stop on the dirt road at postion  38° 1'1.33"N,  24°23'43.18"E and open the tiny wire fence and walk in diagnally veering right for 180 meters, towards the willows. A GPS will help!


Mid Rigia. This is another pool in the stream bed and it is intermittent at this area. This part of Rigia was practically logged to degrade the willow wood that existed in the '90s. Site 6. 
Striped-necked terrapins were really abundant! Amazing for a winter day. Site 6. Since these photos are taken with my Sony Z1 cell phone I cannot not get close-ups. They are wary and I have found parts of them in otter spraints in the past.
Souvala Pond (what's left of it after extensive in-filling). Chaste trees all around. Smoldering burnt rush meadows in foreground. Shepherds burn the Juncus acutus in the winter. Site 7.
Dead pond terrapin killed by burning of the rush meadows. Site 7.
Intermittent upper part of the Rigia stream. Its almost like a wadi. Tree frogs were croaking here and during the long scorching summer it is usually totally dry. The chaste tree bushes are great reptile habitat refuges.The area is heavily grazed here. Site 8.

Unusual eutrophication in one of the pools in the intermittent part of the upper Rigia stream.  Perhaps untreated waste is dumped here - this is a common event in many agro-pastoral plains.  Several frogs were active .Site 9.

Rush beds (dominated by Juncus acutus) and open wet meadow habitat north of the bridge of Rigia. Its a very very dry winter, you can tell here. Usually frequent winter rains flood these habitats. They are heavily grazed. Site 2. 















Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Big ichthyologial conservation questions for Greece in 2016

Illegal fishing of Ionian Trout in Greece. This catastrophe is emptying many upland streams. Immediate attention is required.



A horizon scan of ichthyological conservation-relevant science for 2016

Here I try to identify issues that could have substantial effects on biodiversity conservation science in Greece, but are not currently widely well known or understood within conservation and natural history circles working in this country. This is rapid brain storming personal "horizon scan" and is meant to insight interest and discourse - and action for 2016!
Criteria: a) must be conservation and policy-relevant, b) must really help save and support protected areas, c) must help connect to local communities and support local economies and quality of life, d) must help science excel in Greece, especially meaningfully applied scientific approaches to environmental management.

Brain storm:
  • Complete Greece's fish taxonomy. Name all the un-named species; I reckon there are at least 10 species that need valid names - at least. 
  • Complete inventory-level work on river mapping, small-wetlands (including springs) etc. Greece still has a poor system of inventory - but it is an incredibly rich country. Icthyologically the data poor and poorly associated with the "wetland inventories". 
  • Use fish in water management: Build a nation-wide WFD-relevant index that couples and complements standardized EU methods for assessing ecological quality in rivers.
  • Do WFD-relevant index-building work on Lakes and Transitional Waters as well.
  • Review and monitor the situation of alien freshwater fishes in Greece.
  • Protect places from the spread of alien species; some sites are especially vulnerable since some angling is developing there (especially lakes and new reservoirs).
  • Protect places from the spread of translocated species. Translocated species from nearby ecoregions (even within the country) are aliens too... and they can cause destructive hybridization and other calamities in local endemic stocks and can destroy local and endemic aquatic biotas. Evidence on this problem is mounting and scientists must work together. 
  • Focus on the Trout of Greece (conservation genetics, conservation management, angling management, stock conservation status). 
  • Species re-introduction initiatives. Learn to re-introduce species in places where they are now extirpated. 
  • Find the last sturgeons in the Evros/Meric and save them. 
  • Find the Vistonis Shad. If it is extinct make an effort to explain why. Restore the lake and introduce the next most related species to take up the vacant niche. 
  • Explore the unexplored places to focus on rare and endemic species distributions.
  • Promote fish-watching; create a gazette of the 100 best places to observe freshwater fishes and advertise this. Bring fish appreciation to the forefront.
  • Protect and restore migratory fish work. Look at how barriers affect fishes. 
  • Ecological flows. Work on naturalizing the flow regime where possible and important.
  • Focus on the anadromous Shad Alosa fallax - where is it breeding, where is it concentrating in marine waters. The EU Habitats Directive process demands that Greece provide protected areas for this species. 
  • Ex situ conservation is not in my mind as a priority but it is an opportunity to learn from species and use them for re-introductions. 
  • Explain and interpret the biogeography of inland waters. Utilize the new fish taxonomy. Finalize biogeographical delineations (at a fine scale and multi-leveled approach).
  • Help promote fly fishing in Greece.
  • Promote the creation of a licencing scheme for amateur fishing in Greece - currently no licence is needed and destructive fishing is rampant.
  • Create a system to monitor and police protected areas - especially places where native trout survive. Policing and active enforcement is lacking in transitional waters as well. 
  • Promote the re-structuring of the Natura 2000 network to include new areas into the protected area system of Greece. Some proposals have already been put forward in 2015 by our team working on the Natura 2000 Fish project.
  • Work on Eels. They are IUCN Critical and vulnerable in any case. Include Eels in an index of biological integrity for small streams (even on islands). 
  • Make freshwater fishes important by displaying them in public aquaria. Currently Greece has Aquaria in Rhodes, Drama, Kerkini(Vironia), Kastoria. Make more opportunities available for poeple to come into contact. 
  • Create creative opportunities for citizen science involvement. At HCMR we are working on a "fishlist" website to inform and engage the public.
  • Promote better training of electrofishing and other sampling techniques; help standardized methods.
  • Fish in or near urban areas. Work to make people aware in urban areas - fish are present and can provide opportunities for conservation and educations. They can be conservation flagships (think of eels, mullets, rarities, oddities, aliens).
  • Work on fish parasites. Alien parasites. 
  • Protect and enhance small wetlands where opportunities exist.
  • Bring fish and fish habitat into flood-control management.
  • Work on fishes in transitional waters. WE know next to nothing and important species stocks are mismanaged and on the decline there. 
  • Build on past successes in restoration work: re-visit the Louros, Nestos, Evros, Sperchios where aquatic conservation and restoration work has succeeded to produce positive results. 
  • Ichthyologists unite! WE need better field ichthyology and to bring in amateur naturalists as well. We are still in a developing stage in this aspect in Greece.
Students of nature, take your pick - and call on us to help!  


Teaching and training is very important especially when it is practiced out-of-doors. Here Professor Martinez-Capel provides Greek students with assessment techniques in a stream near Athens.

Catch-and-Release in Greece. A small community of people are doing it - we need to promote this and to work on native trout to same endemic stocks and help local communities appreciate their rivers as recreation, tourism and scenic resources (Photo: Tolis Lachanas)
Greek Barbel (Luciobarbus graecus) and IUCN ENDANGERED species can be observed using binoculars at certain water bodies in Attika (Beletsi and Lake Marathon). The hobby of fish-watching can flourish if it is nourished.


Little studied catadromous migratory species such as the Grey Mullets are important indicators to river connectivity with the sea. Here is our catch from the tiny Achinos stream in Fthiotis Prefecture - Central Greece. These small  stream communities need study and protection.

Artemis Lagoon in Attika (Loutsa). A wetlands full of grey mullet and eel that needs protection as a Nature Park. Fish are a part of the management of small wetlands such as this coastal lagoon system (connection to the sea must be maintained; and fish support rich bird populations...). 
The Meristis Wier created in 2007 on the Sperchios River. Loss of connectivity and barriers to fish movement are a serious problem for conservation and management. New dams, small H/E schemes, and other barriers are being planned in many parts of Greece. What of the fish?

Flooding in the Evros. Catastrophic flooding is a real problem and managing to abate the destruction must go hand-in-hand with ecological restoration. Flooding is important to fish dispersal. 
Illegal fishing of Vulnerable Ionian Trout in Greece. This catastrophe is emptying many upland streams. Immediate attention is required. (Photo provided by Tolis Lachanas). 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Μύδια του Γλυκού Νερού: Nέα ανασκόπηση / Freshwater mussels of Europe: New review



Μύδια του Γλυκού Νερού!
Νέο επιστημονικό άρθρο δίνει την πρώτη ολοκληρωμένη εικόνα της κατάστασης των πληθυσμών στην Ευρώπη

Ένα από τα πιο γοητευτικά στοιχεία της βιωτής των ποταμών και λιμνών είναι τα μύδια του γλυκού νερού - ποικιλόμορφες αχιβάδες που επιτελούν σημαντικές οικολογικές υπηρεσίες. Τα μύδια αυτά είναι σαν "ζωντανά φίλτρα" για το νερό - ένα μύδι μπορεί να φιλτράρει έως και 40 λίτρα νερού την ημέρα.  Τα μύδια έχουν και μια ιδιαίτερη σχέση με τα ψάρια - ως λάρβες ζουν πάνω στα ψάρια και έτσι μεταναστεύουν μαζί τους. Τα μύδια δημιουργούν και ειδικούς βιοτόπους στον πυθμένα των ποταμών - εκεί ζουν πολλά και διάφορα άλλα είδη ζωής, ένα ψάρι μάλιστα γεννά τα αυγά του μέσα στα μύδια. Πολλά είδη μυδιών του γλυκού νερού είναι εξαιρετικά μακρόβια - ζουν περισσότερο από 100 χρονιά! 

Όμως πόσοι από εμάς έχουν την παραμικρή ιδέα ότι πρόκειται για πολύ σημαντικά πλάσματα του γλυκού νερού που βρίσκονται στο χείλος της εξαφάνισης σε πολλές περιοχές της Ευρώπης; 

Μία νέα δημοσίευση στην επιστημονική επιθεώρηση "Biological Reviews" (I.F. 9.67)  έδειξε ότι στην Ευρώπη έχουν καταγραφεί συνολικά 16 είδη.  Δυστυχώς υπάρχουν σοβαρά χάσματα γνώσης και προβλήματα επιβίωσης για πολλά από αυτά τα είδη. Συνεργάστηκαν 49 ερευνητές από 26 χώρες και διάφορους ακαδημαϊκούς οργανισμούς για να ολοκληρωθεί αυτή η έρευνα. Η χώρα μας είναι από τις πιο άγνωστες σε σχέση με την καταγραφή των ειδών αυτών- δεν έχουμε καλή γνώση της χωρικής κατανομής ή της κατάστασης διατήρησης τους. Κάποιοι πληθυσμοί έχουν εξαφανιστεί από περιοχές στις οποίες είχαν γίνει καταγραφές δεκαετίες πριν. Κάποιοι πληθυσμοί διαφέρουν τόσο που υποψιαζόμαστε ότι είναι νέα είδη για την επιστήμη! 

Η ερευνητική επισκόπηση διοργανώθηκε άπo Πορτογαλική και Γερμανική ομάδα και υπήρξε μεγάλη προσπάθεια ανασκόπησης της βιβλιογραφίας σε αρχεία και μουσεία σε όλη την Ευρώπη - και στην χώρα μας. Στην Ελλάδα, σημαντική βοήθεια προσέφερε το Ζωολογικό Μουσείο Αθηνών (βοήθησε ο Αναστάσιος Λεγάκις) του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών (ΕΚΠΑ) και ο Τομέας Εσωτερικών Υδάτων του Ινστιτούτου Θαλάσσιων Βιολογικών Πόρων και Εσωτερικών Υδάτων του ΕΛΚΕΘΕ. Από το ΕΛΚΕΘΕ, ο Σταμάτης Ζόγκαρης και ο Ιωάννης Καραούζας συνεχίζουν την έρευνα των δίθυρων με τους κύριους ερευνητές του άρθρου στα Βαλκάνια. Υπάρχει πολύ καλή συνεργασία με τους Πορτογάλους ειδικούς Δρ. Manuel Lopes-Lima και Δρ. Ronaldo Sousa και έρευνα πεδίου στην Ελλάδα σχεδιάζεται να διεξαχθεί και το 2016.  

Για ερευνητικές εργασίες πεδίου στην Ελλάδα το 2014 δείτε εδώ:

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες κατεβάστε το επιστημονικό άρθρο εδώ:
Γενική Ανασκόπιση για τα μύδια του γλυκού νερού στην Ευρώπη:
Freshwater Mussels

Αναφορά στο Γένος Potamida στην Μεσόγειο:
Potamida 2016

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First study on freshwater mussel stocks in 26 European countries
The Status Quo on Europe’s Mussels

Mussels are the natural treatment plants of bodies of water and, therefore, just as important as bees. Unfortunately, they are equally threatened: most of the world’s mussel stocks are in decline and some species face extinction. For this reason, scientists from 26 European countries have compiled the first comprehensive survey on the status quo of freshwater mussel species in Europe and can now provide recommendations for the future protection of the species.

It may not always be obvious due to their concealed way of life, but mussels are among the most endangered species in the world. These mussels have an interesting life cycle since they have a parasitic stage on fish, where mussel larvae attach and metamorphose into juveniles. Very little was known about the status quo of mussel fauna up to now, as there was no information available on the stock sizes of this underwater organism. The varying surveying methods used by different countries exacerbated the problem. A catalogue of the 16 freshwater mussel species found throughout Europe is now be published for the first time in the journal “Biological Reviews”. The project was coordinated by researchers the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) in Portugal and the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

A pivotal role bodies of water

The survey’s three main authors, Manuel Lopes-Lima and Ronaldo Sousa from CIIMAR and Professor Jürgen Geist from TUM, describe how crucial mussels are for aquatic ecosystems: they form around 90 percent of the biomass in the bed of a water body. In addition, mussels filter the water and have a major influence on the water quality as a result. “Because a single mussel filters up to 40 liters of water per day,” report the authors, “we humans also benefit from the ecosystem services provided by mussels.” When the hard-shelled animals keep a body of water clean, more invertebrate organisms tend to join them there. Due to their crucial role in the aquatic habitat, the extinction of these small natural treatment plants in rivers and lakes would have serious impacts on the aquatic habitat.

Catalogue of characteristics

So what do the freshwater mussels, some of which live for over a century, need to survive? The research network, comprising scientists from 26 countries, collected information about the requirements of European mussels vis-à-vis their habitat and began by answering the following questions:

·         Where do which species arise?
·         How big is the current stock?
·         How are the species related to each other?
·         What are their preferred habitats?
·         What are the greatest threats to their survival?

One result of the Europe-wide study is the extent of the gap between north and south. There are fewer species in the north of Europe, for example Scandinavia, but the populations there are bigger. In contrast, southern Europe has more species, but some of them are only found in a handful of waters. This can be due to the fact that they are specialized on one fish species and if this species only arises on the Iberian Peninsula, the mussels that depend on it can only survive in proximity to it. In addition, mountain ranges like the Alps and Pyrenees act as geographical barriers. “If a mussel population dies out in just one location in the south, this can represent half of the global population,” as explained by these scientists. 

Which habitats do the mussels prefer?

The fact that some mussel species are dispersed all across Europe and have given rise to different strains could be related to the ice ages and periods between them, on the one hand, their fish hosts and the conquest of new habitats, on the other. In addition, the scientists established that less demanding mussel species can spread more successfully, as they can survive in different water bodies and quickly adapt to changes in the water quality. Similarly, some species prefer warmer, stiller waters while other mussel strains are more tolerant and can survive just as well in cold rivers and streams as in lakes.

What are the threats to Europe’s mussels?

The authors also summarize the main threats to the species in their report: 

·         Barrages, weirs and dams
·         Pearl fishing (for certain species)
·         Pollution and over-fertilization
·         Loss of fish hosts
·         Invasive species
·        Water extraction and climate change 
·        Other hitherto unknown stress factors


To ensure the long-term conservation of freshwater mussels for aquatic ecosystems and their functions, the authors recommend that detailed scientific plans with defined objectives be compiled. Targeted protection should be provided for populations that are important from an evolutionary perspective and whose stocks have already been reduced by 90 percent, water bodies with a high level of mussel species diversity, and also healthy mussel stocks in intact habitats. “Because a mussel is highly dependent on its fish host and these are in decline, particular attention should be paid to the fish stocks,” as explained by the authors, “even if some of these fish species do not have any particular economic value.” 

In Greece, the Zoological Museum of Athens University spearheaded by Anastasios Legakis and the Department of Inland Waters of IMBRIW at HCMR worked on this paper. Stamatis Zogaris and Ioannis Karaouzas from HCMR continue work with the main authors of the review paper for research into the Balkan fauna. Field surveys are being planned in Greece for 2016.  

For a look at field survey work in Greece see this:

For further information please download the review paper in proof form here:
Review Paper:
Freshwater Mussels in Europe

Reoport on the rare genus Potamida in Mediterranean inland waters:



Freshwater mussel species illustrated in the recent "Biological Reviews" paper.
Freshwater mussel species illustrated in the recent "Biological Reviews" paper.


Pearl mussel species illustrated in the recent "Biological Reviews" paper.

Lake Yliki is a very important habitat for freshwater mussels near Athens. Λίμνη Υλίκη, Βοιωτία - πολύ σημαντικός βιότοπος για τα μύδια του γλυκού νερού κοντά στην Αθήνα.
A mussel species found in an artificial lake on Mount Parnitha near Athens. Είδος μυδιού του γλυκού νερού σε τεχνητή λίμνη στην Πάρνηθα (Φωτό: Δ. Κουτσογιαννόπουλος).

The Pinios River in Thessaly, an important area for freshwater mussels. Ο Ποταμός Πηνειός στην Θεσσαλία - σε καθαρά τμήματα όπως εδώ στον άνω ρου του - υπάρχουν σημαντικοί πληθυσμοί με μύδια του γλυκού νερού.