January 27, 2023

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Meet the turnip, an insect newly discovered in Poland.  A sensitive consonant hides an unusual story

Meet the turnip, an insect newly discovered in Poland. A sensitive consonant hides an unusual story

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Why is there no Turnicki National Park?

Nature in Poland may seem well studied – people have lived with it, watched it, altered it and studied it for hundreds, thousands of years. However, it still brings us surprises and there is still a lot to discover. They were waiting for Turnicka zrówieńka, an insect from the grasshopper family.

This is a species that occurs in the forest-steppe, that is, the area between the steppe in the south and the deciduous forest in the north. Until now it was known in Romania, Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia – But not in Poland. Two researchers, Szymon Czyżewski and Piotr Guzik, However, they found it in the Podkarbasi meadowsin the foothills of Przemysl.

It is unusual not only because we have a new species in Poland. For the first time, the habitat of this insect was discovered outside the forest-steppe zone. This may indicate the original nature of the meadows and grasslands of the Przemyski foothills and the unusual history that allowed them to survive in this part. shed. But before that – listen to the recording made by the researchers:

balance in nature

We asked one of its discoverers about the insect. As described by Szymon Czyżewski, the Turnicka zrówieńka in the Przemyskie Hills inhabit dry meadows and grasslands, both well-developed and those appearing in post-agricultural areas. polishing Aggregations are found in completely open areas, but the species can also live in places with sparse trees.

However, it is still not a forest-steppe. And “considering that the erenki beetle is a non-flying species and therefore very immobile, it is difficult to imagine that it inhabited the Przemyskie hilly areas recently,” writes Czyżewski. He also notes that zrówieńka turnip is a “very sensitive animal” because it needs certain conditions.

It does not adapt well to living in heavily used areas where intense grazing or frequent mowing is done. On the other hand, a certain level of mowing is necessary for it, because without it its habitat disappears, and the overgrowth of forest meadows means the end of the population of this insect on which it lives. So a delicate balance is essential. “You may ask yourself: Where did such an inappropriate creature come from? Now the answers This is what the history of man’s influence on nature seems to suggest, ”- writes the researcher.

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Czyżewski notes that “contrary to popular belief, Fossil records showthat prior to human intervention, semi-open habitats dominated temperate Europe.

“Before, during and at the end of the last ice age, Europe was inhabited by large herbivorous mammals, from elephants, through buffaloes, grouse and larks, to the bison and deer we know today. These animals had a huge impact on the habitats in which they lived. Through the consumption of plants , restricted the growth of trees, with the result that vast areas, perhaps most of Europe, existed in semi-open and semi-open park-forest nature, resembling savannas. These were the conditions in which zaryna, and the vast majority of the species diversity known to us today, evolved. They are perfectly adapted With such a habitat, which is under constant, but not excessive, pressure from large herbivores”

– writes the researcher. However, over time, man has exterminated the vast majority of large herbivores. Some species were killed off relatively recently, and on other continents this process continues. The European bison also became extinct in nature, but was eventually saved.

Czyżewski emphasizes that “the fate of Turnicka zrówieńka in the foothills of the Przemyśl is intertwined in this complex history of man and nature”. When man exterminated wild species of herbivores, he began to introduce their domesticated substitutes – cows, horses, sheep and goats. And they, like their natural ancestors, have recreated and preserved semi-open habitats. Czyzewski writes:

“Although many species of plants and animals cope well with intensive grazing, they are not the same. So it is possible that with increased intensive use they have only survived in areas with open habitats, such as grazing or mowing. , but not too intensely. Perhaps for some reason these shelters found themselves in the foothills of Przemyskie and were allowed to survive? Extensively grazed park forests, like meadows with old, low-growing trees, were preserved in the foothills until the beginning of the century Twenty”.

How do we protect the yoke?

The little bug is not an endangered species as such, but in some countries it is sensitive and legally protected as well. His survival in Poland depends on the delicate balance of nature, for both the densely forested meadows and their overexploitation will mean punishment for him.

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Researchers estimate the population discovered in Poland to be between 3,000 and 15,000 adult individuals. As the publication points out, only one of the discovered sites (Kopystańka Nature Reserve) is located in a legally protected area. There are two (at Makowa and Rybotycze) in the planned Turnicki National Park buffer zone. This is a park that has been talked about for decades, but not yet created – how about it This year we wrote in the “Invisible National Park” report. Some residents and environmentalists from all over Poland are trying to ensure that regions that are unique not only in terms of nature, but also historically are protected.

The name of the insect proposed by the researchers also originated from it. As they write, “To show support for the planned tribute to Turnicki National Park wash Countless nature-lovers for its creation, and to emphasize the unique natural character of this region’, suggest that the Polish name for I. modesta should be: zrówieńka turnicka.

Czyżewski said the find highlights “the enormous, often underestimated, natural value of open and semi-open areas, which are just as valuable and perhaps natural as ancient forests.” Although it is difficult to say exactly when zrówieka appeared in the Przemyskie Hills—whether it was a remnant of ancient landscapes, or perhaps arrived there later with shepherds from the south—”the presence of its habitat in this area is as natural and valuable as that of the ancient Carpathian forests”.

Therefore, according to the scientist, it is our duty to protect the meadows and grasslands in the foothills, home to Turnicka zrówieńka and many other rare species of animals and plants. However, since we long ago exterminated the large herbivores that kept these meadows in their natural state, our work is now required.

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One option is to mow lawns in a way that maintains character and prevents afforestation, but is not so severe as to harm the species that live there. In this case, afforestation is a “killer” for biodiversity. As the scientist asserts, places where trees, meadows, and grasslands coexist are home to a large number of insects, butterflies, birds, and other species. So, just as deforestation – that is, the removal of the forest from its natural area – is destructive to nature, so the appearance of it in “unnatural” areas also has its negative effects.

Active protection is now required. However, there is another option that Czyżewski points out – the deliberate restoration of natural processes, The so-called rewinding. In this case, it will consist in restoring large herbivores, and with them – the natural dynamics of the ecosystem. “So, if we do not want to lose this huge amount of biodiversity and related ecosystem services, such as pollination, we must protect open and semi-open habitats, either through intensive use or reintroduction of large herbivores: cattle, horses and bison” – he concludes researcher.