In 2010 the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit specified the most important levels of biodiversity that should receive attention in conservation managements: genetic variability, species and, finally, ecosystems (Noss et al. 2012). Relics are of special interest in conservation because their long-term survival in sheltered conditions and reflects complex evolutionary histories of the areas, where they have survived (Varga 2010). The Carpathians are widely recognized as most important biodiversity hotspots for temperate mountain species in Europe (Stewart 2009). These regions harbor high biodiversity and important number of relics due to their long-term environmental stability and particular palaeoecological history. However, data on origin and age of the majority of Carpathian relics are very limited. Global climate change (GCC) is expected to lead to massive biodiversity loss in mountain ecosystems (around 70-80%) with high conservation value, but reliable studies on the potential effects of GCC on these mountain ecosystems, especially in the Carpathians remain sparse (see Noss et al. 2012, Balint et al. 2011). In the frame of the present project proposal we select relic taxa belonging to different groups (plants vs. animals, terrestrial vs. aquatic) as model organisms, because the convergences in their evolutionary history could reflect common reactions to the ongoing global climate change implying the possibility of generalization to wet and humid ecosystems in the Carpathians. Altogether three narrow endemic Carpathian relic taxa will be selected in the present study, as followings: plants species like Erythronium dens-canis, but also Hepatica transsilvanica and Campanula carpatica, wingless weevills, Othyorrhynchus rufomarginatus, O. remotegranulatus, and tipuloid dipterans fron the genera Pedicia and Dicranota. These model organisms have strong affinity to Carpathian forested wet and humid ecosystems and the congruencies in their evolutionary histories can lead to better understanding of the conditions of these “hotspots” in Europe, and promote the elaboration of appropriate conservation policies.
(a) identification of the distribution of selected model organisms in the Carpathians;
(b) estimation of morphological, morphometric and molecular diversity within groups and within species: identification of cryptic diversity, description of cryptic species;
(c) building up the evolutionary history of the selected organisms based on population genetic data (introgressions, bottlenecks etc.);
(d) characterization of the ecological requirements of the selected species and identification of possiblesuitable areas based on niche analysis;
(e) testing the survival potential of model organisms, thus, their ecosystems, based on different climate change scenarios, thus testing the vulnerability of the ecosystems, which house endemic and relic organisms;
(f) contouring the importance of Carpathians as biodiversity hotspots and glacial refuges and support the importance of conservation their endemic species and ecosystems.