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Wild Rodopi 

Wild Rodopi is an independent non-governmental organization (NGO) that conducts wildlife research and ethnoecological conservation projects in the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains. As well as biological recording and monitoring the exceptionally rich flora and fauna of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, we also work for the preservation of rural heritage in the region, acknowledging the crucial role that local customs, non-intensive agriculture and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) have played in helping to shape the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains into one of the most important havens for biodiversity in Europe.

Wildlife Conservation

Orchid Conservation

Orchids (Orchidaceae) are of exceptional conservation interest on account of their highly specialized and complex ecology. This specialization and complexity makes them more vulnerable to both natural and anthropogenic threats, and this in turn has meant that the abundance of many orchid species has dropped to critical levels in recent decades. Furthermore, many orchids are extremely sensitive to environmental fluctuations and are thus likely to be amongst the first plants to face extinction as a result of climate change. Orchid research and conservation:

Carnivore Conservation

Of all the mammalian groups, it is carnivores that face the greatest range of threats including habitat loss, invasive species, disease, and persecution from humans. Furthermore, many of the ecological traits of carnivores such as their narrow geographical ranges, small and declining population sizes, low population densities, need for large home ranges, as well as competition with people, make them highly susceptible to extinction. Large carnivores in particular have, in many cases, been driven towards extinction by the actions of Man, with serious negative implications for the ecosystems in which they once lived. All carnivores have crucial roles to play either as either indicator species, keystone species, umbrella species or flagship species, and all deserve further research and conservation efforts. Carnivore research & conservation:

Bat Conservation

Bats (Chiroptera) remain some of the most cryptic and mysterious mammals on earth, yet they fulfill a crucial range of environmental roles and ecosystem services such as plant pollination, seed dispersion, pest suppression and nutrient provision. However, not only is there is still much to be discovered about bats in terms of distribution, status, biology and ecology, but conservation actions are also needed to halt the alarming decline in many bat populations. Bat research and conservation:

Small Mammal Conservation

Very often, small mammals are simply regarded as agricultural and domestic pests, and have thus been subject to persecution and eradication. In addition, rapid habitat degradation and destruction, and increasing road-induced mortality, have led to dramatic declines in the populations of many species of small mammals. These declines in small mammal populations are of growing conservation concern, since many small mammals are keystone species, performing essential and beneficial ecosystem roles as prey, predators and ecosystem engineers. Loss of small mammal species can cause on a subsequent loss of other species dependent upon them as negative impacts on the environment as a whole. Small mammal research & conservation:

Ungulate Conservation

Wild ungulates are keystone species in many ecosystems, not only serving as prey for large carnivores and carrion for vultures, but also through their own ecology serving as ecosystem engineers whose activities have been essential for the creation, diversification, improvement and preservation of natural environments. The conservation and management of wild ungulates is highly complex and multi-faceted, with some populations increasing and others decreasing. Further research and careful monitoring of wild ungulates is therefore essential. Ungulate research & conservation: 

Ornithological Conservation

Birds are one of the most visible and best appreciated elements of our wild fauna, occurring in all ecosystems and occupying a high level in the food chain. Changes in bird populations can provide a very useful indication of broader environmental change. When birds start disappearing, it suggests that something is wrong with the environment as a whole and that urgent action is needed. Unfortunately, it is now believed that almost half of Europe's bird species have an unfavourable conservation status, and the decline in populations continues. Bird research and conservation:

Herpetological Conservation

As a result of habitat degradation and destruction, the introduction of invasive alien species and the growing impact of climate change, there has in recent decades been a sharp decline in Europe's amphibians and reptiles (Herpetofauna). over recent decades has been alarming. Unfortunately, fears and prejudices about many species of amphibians and reptiles also leads to direct persecution and killing. Therefore, conservation efforts for reptiles and amphibians need to incorporate educational elements as well. Herpetological research and conservation:  

Butterfly Conservation

In recent decades, butterfly conservation and research has gained more and more significance. Not only has it become clear that many species are in decline, but also there has been a growing understanding of the important role they can play as environmental indicators. Monitoring the change in abundance and distribution of butterflies therefore offers a useful tool for assessing both large-scale and long-term biodiversity trends. Butterfly research and conservation:

Dragonfly Conservation

Damselflies and dragonflies (Odonata) are highly sensitive to habitat quality, not only making them of conservation concern in their own right, but also excellent bio-indicator species, well-suited for evaluating environmental changes. Although there has been a great deal of dragonfly (Odonata) research undertaken in certain parts of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, there are still many water courses and water-bodies that are devoid of data and in need of further research. Dragonfly research and conservation: 

Bumblebee Conservation

Bumblebees are among the most important wild pollinators. At least 25 of the major crops grown within the European Union are known to be pollinated by bumblebees. Bumblebees not only play a critical role in securing food production, but many wild flowers in Europe are also pollinated mainly or entirely by bumblebees. Unfortunately, 24% percent of Europe’s bumblebee species are now threatened with extinction, and 46% of bumblebee species in Europe have declining populations. This is likely to have serious negative effects on many plant populations, which in turn will have knock-on effects for associated animal communities.  Bumblebee research and conservation:

Orthoptera Conservation

Grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera) are conspicuous diurnal insects that are often abundant in both natural as well as anthropogenic landscapes. Many people consider Orthoptera as environmentally harmful pests; however, grasshoppers and crickets are keystone species, playing a crucial role in grassland biodiversity and providing a vital source of food for many other animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, spiders and mantids. Orthoptera research and conservation: 

Ladybird Conservation

Not only do ladybirds (Coccinellidae) have aesthetic appeal with their attractively patterned elytra, they are also widely recognized as being beneficial insects preying on aphids, mites and other invertebrates regarded as harmful pests by Man. In several European countries, ladybirds have become the focus for important 'citizen science' research, with distribution records being gathered and submitted by numerous amateur naturalists and volunteers as part of national ladybird surveys. This research has recently taken on new conservation significance with a growing awareness of the increasing threat and decline in native ladybird species. Ladybird research and conservation:

Longhorn Beetles Conservation

Longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae) are not only some of the most spectacular beetles found in Europe, they are also some of the most important, forming a major part of the group of so-called saproxylic beetles. These have become the focus of intense scientific research and conservation efforts, because of the key role they play in overall forest biodiversity, interacting with other groups of forest organisms, and because their presence provides an important indication of the maturity and quality of the forest itself, making saproxylic beetles useful indicator species. Longhorn beetle research and conservation:

Spider Conservation

Although a large amount of scientific research into spiders has been undertaken around Europe, spiders have, until recently, been the focus of very little conservation interest or concern, and there is little data about the size or density of national, regional and local spider populations, meaning that the conservation status of spiders remains unclear. Spiders are an integral part of global biodiversity, fulfilling important roles both as predators and prey, and thus are deserving of both research and conservation efforts. Spider research and conservation: 

Mycological Conservation

Fungi have a crucial part to play in the functioning of most of the world's ecosystems. Not only are wild mushrooms a source of food for many vertebrates and invertebrates, they also fullfil several less obvious but even more important roles. It is now known that numerous fungi form essential mycorrhizal associations with plant roots, and that many of the plant species on which mankind relies could not survive without their fungal partners. Fungi research and conservation:

Wildlife Projects