National Action Plan for the endemic Karpathos frog Pelophylax cerigensis

November 4, 2021
Categories: Announcements

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=” id=” background_color=” background_image=” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=” video_webm=” video_ogv=” video_url=” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=” video_preview_image=” border_size=” border_color=” border_style=”solid” padding_top=” padding_bottom=” padding_left=” padding_right=”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=” border_size=” border_color=” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=” padding_right=” padding_bottom=” padding_left=” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=” id=” animation_type=” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=” hover_type=”none” link=”][fusion_text]The Karpathos frog Pelophylax cerigensis, or vatraklos as the locals call him, is an endemic amphibian species with a distribution exclusively limited to the northern part of the island. Specifically, only four populations have been currently recorded in northern Karpathos, while it is estimated that a total of 300-500 individuals live in all distribution sites that have been identified so far on the island. The Karpathos frog has suffered a large decline compared to the past, and the downward trend in its populations appears to continue to date.

The main threats for the Karpathos frog are related to its habitat loss, mainly small seasonal streams and reservoirs or small pikes, as a result of climate change and rainfall reduction in the south-eastern Aegean wider area. The rainfall reduction leads to reduction of the area covered by surface waters and to deterioration of their quality.

Due to the small population size and extremely small distribution of P. cerigensis, the species is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in the Red Book of Threatened Animals of Greece as “Critically Endangered”. In Greece, the conservation status of P. cerigensis according to the 4th National Report under Article 17 of Directive 92/43/EEC for the period 2013-2018 was assessed as “unfavourable – inadequate” (U1), but in reality it will should rather be rated “Unfavourable-Bad” (U2), as the species’ populations and range have declined further since 2018.

National action plan

 The aim of the National Action Plan (NAP) is to define management measures that will ensure improvement of the overall species conservation and achievement of a favourable conservation status at the national level. In order to achieve the NAP objectives, specific management actions will be implemented in the first stage, which were selected based on prioritization and after available funding possibilities had been taken into consideration.

The NAP management actions that will be implemented include research actions that will focus on the ecology and the study of the genetic diversity of the species’ populations, as well as the continuous monitoring of the two main populations of the species (Argoni and Nati streams) in Karpathos, to address important knowledge gaps regarding the biology and population ecology of P. cerigensis.

In order to halt the decline, improve the Karpathos frog populations, and expand the species distribution, individuals from the Argonio core population will be relocated to other sites in central and southern Karpathos. The candidate areas will be identified after a species specific habitat suitability study that will examine various relevant biotic and abiotic parameters.

In order to halt species habitat loss, new small wetlands that may provide suitable habitat in specific areas will be opened and/or constructed by non-mechanical means. In addition, frequent cleaning of their existing habitat sites by removing waste and seasonal supplement with water during periods of drought, and/or whenever this is deemed necessary, is expected to improve both the quality of the habitats and the gene flow of the species.

Finally, institutional measures such as the inclusion of the species to Appendix II of the Bern Convention for the Protection of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, as well as training and raising awareness of local community, students and the tourism sector (for example distribution canvas bags, organization of targeted seminars and publication of information brochures) are measures that is expected to increase the active protection of the species in the near future.

To evaluate the effectiveness of management actions, a monitoring programme will be implemented that will use evaluation indicators, in order to assess the action in an objective and measurable way, to the extent that this is possible.

The NAP implementation, beyond the obvious benefits for the species itself, is expected to improve the habitat quality in the northern part of Karpathos, to contribute to the protection and conservation of other fauna and flora species of the area, and to strengthen sustainable development of the wider region through activating local communities and attracting environmentally conscious visitors.[/fusion_text][fusion_code]PGRpdiBjbGFzcz0iaWZyYW1lbHktZW1iZWQiPjxkaXYgY2xhc3M9ImlmcmFtZWx5LXJlc3BvbnNpdmUiIHN0eWxlPSJoZWlnaHQ6IDE0MHB4OyBwYWRkaW5nLWJvdHRvbTogMDsiPjxhIGhyZWY9Imh0dHBzOi8vZWRvem91bWUuZ3Ivc2NoZWRpYS1kcmFzaXMtcHJvc3RhdGV5b250YXMtYXBlaWxveW1lbmEtZWlkaS1rYWktb2lrb3RvcG95cy10aXMtZWxsYWRhcy8iIGRhdGEtaWZyYW1lbHktdXJsPSIvL2Nkbi5pZnJhbWUubHkvODlua1BXZz9jYXJkPXNtYWxsIj48L2E+PC9kaXY+PC9kaXY+PHNjcmlwdCBhc3luYyBzcmM9Ii8vY2RuLmlmcmFtZS5seS9lbWJlZC5qcyIgY2hhcnNldD0idXRmLTgiPjwvc2NyaXB0Pg==[/fusion_code][fusion_text columns=” column_min_width=” column_spacing=” rule_style=”default” rule_size=” rule_color=” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=” id=”]

  1. The National Action Plan for the stenoendemic frog species of Karpathos Pelophylax cerigensis has been legally approved by the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (the Ministerial Decision is available here).
  2. The Ministerial Decision was based on the corresponding study prepared by WWF Greece and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and received by the Natural Environment and Biodiversity Management Directorate of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy, in the framework of the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA project “Integrated actions for conservation and management of Natura 2000 sites, species, habitats and ecosystems in Greece” (LIFE16 IPE/GR/000002).
  3. The full text of the study is available on the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA deliverables webpage (Action A.1).