The Biodiversity of Invertebrates in Cyprus Ecosystems
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
There has been great concern within the scientific community about biodiversity loss and the extinction crisis worldwide. In order to set priority targets for biodiversity conservation in any region of the world, it is necessary to have good, long term, scientific, biological data. Without detailed information on local floras and faunas, it is impossible to prepare detailed management plans for biodiversity conservation within the area. The conservation importance of an area, which can be determined by assessing its biodiversity, by considering its species richness and abundance of key species (indicator groups). Therefore, during this thesis we attempted to clarify processes that influence the invertebrate fauna of Cyprus in different ecosystems. We also sought to investigate the population dynamics, abundance, species richness and the diversity of different invertebrate groups. We not only described the local invertebrate fauna, but also analysed impacts of different management regimes on them. In addition to this, we used different group of invertebrates as indicators in order to identify the biologically valuable habitats for biodiversity conservation in Cyprus. Firstly, field surveys were carried out over a two year period for the determination of thrips fauna (Thysanoptera) in the northern part of Cyprus. During the surveys 2029 specimens were collected. We recorded 43 thrips species belonging to 23 genera. Five genera and 14 species were new records for the island of Cyprus. Also we studied the population of the thrips pests and resulting damage to fruits on different nectarine varieties in north Cyprus during 2004 and 2005. We found 21 different thrips species, most of them encountered during the petal-fall period of nectarine trees. The “Maravilla” variety (early nectarine variety) had the highest rate of non-marketable fruit during 2004-2005. Secondly, we determined the impacts of different management regimes on invertebrate fauna and diversity in Cypriot olive groves. We selected high and low altitude olive groves with no management, tillage only, or tillage – pesticide – fertilizer application. During this study, 12,387 arthropods were recorded and identified from 18 different orders or higher taxa. Our results showed that pesticide application on olive tree canopies significantly reduces the abundance and diversity of arthropods. We also determined the impacts of management regimes on woodlouse fauna. We found significant reductions in woodlouse abundance with tillage combined with pesticide and fertilizer application. Thirdly, we used butterflies as an indicator group to identify the importance of forest and garrigue habitats for biodiversity conservation in Cyprus. Transect counts were used to assess the abundance and diversity of butterflies in old and young forests. We observed a significant effect of forest type on the abundance of butterflies. The number of butterflies and the number of endemic species was also higher in old forests than young forests. Also we used butterflies to evaluate the conservation value of grassland and shrubland mosaics within garrigue ecosystems in Cyprus. Habitat type showed a highly significant effect on butterfly abundance, this was particularly the case with endemics. Greater abundance was observed during early and the late season in grassland habitats. The results underline the potential conservation significance of agricultural ecosystems and should serve to promote ecologically sustainable agricultural production systems in Cyprus. Also as a result of this thesis, identification and protection of grassland-shrubland mosaics in garrigue ecosystems and old mature forests along Kyrenia Range Mountains should be considered priorities in future conservation programmes.
PhD in Biological Sciences