‚GEO-Tag der Natur‘
by Selina Treffner
24 hours, 850 species
On 17 and 18 July 2020 the 5th ‚GEO-Tag der Natur’ took place in the UNESCO biosphere reserve Kärntner Nockberge’ (‘UNESCO Biosphärenpark Salzburger Lungau und Kärntner Nockberge‘) which meant that 24 hours turned into a paradise for naturalists: About 60 researchers and their companions met at the Nockalmstrasse in Carinthia/Austria to investigate the biodiversity around the Grundalm.
Since 22 years the ‘GEO-Tag der Natur’ is Europe’s biggest field research event taking place in several places across the continent. Its aim is to foster awareness for biodiversity, especially for the participants’ local area and, in our case, to explore the biosphere reserve.
Anything growing, flowering, creeping and crawling in the creeks or the alpine meadows between Grundalm and Pfannock was enthusiastically detected. Botanists, zoologists, mycologists, and entomologists took on the challenge and searched for typical as well as rare species.
Within 24 hours they managed to spot 850 wild flora and fauna, a remarkable amount considering the location’s altitude: 350 different plants and 77 different mushrooms, 78 different lichens of which the Alpine Rose and Nigritella plants are widely known. But what about the Lousewort or the Hairy Stonecrop? Have you ever heard of those?
Typical inhabitants of the biosphere reserve are marmot, alpine newt, viper and the black alpine salamander.
Out of 22 spotted bird species on this day, the Kestrel and Golden Eagle are widely known. Less known are the Water Pipit, inhabiting alpine settings, or the Three-toed Woodpecker, which indeed only has 3 toes. It lives in the very richly structured mountain forests.
The Dipper dwells in mountain streams. In there, 250 different water insects were found which serve as food for the Brown Trout.
25 snail species and one species of clam were added to the list representing the group of molluscs.
Due to rather unhospitable weather conditions, many species such as butterflies, bumblebees or fireflies were not to be seen. Nevertheless, various special small animals could be found. The Gyas Titanus‘ legs can grow up to 7 cm in length. It lives in cool rock cracks above the waterfall. In total, 200 insects were documented, many of which act in particularly interesting ways: Take the click beetle for example. Whenever it needs to escape it pretends to be dead to then run suddenly away as fast as possible, thus taking its enemies by surprise. The Acridid Grasshopper and the not speckled Erebia Claudina can be frequently encountered on moist highland pastures.
To exactly identify them, for several of the collected species we will have to use a magnifying glass or microscope. We are quite sure that we are going to find numerous rare species among them.