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Проект GLORIA - Bulgaria

GLORIA – Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s alpine plant diversity under climate change pressure: Setup of GLORIA long-term monitoring sites and risk assessment of diversity losses


In the 2018 National Science Fund competition session, IBER participated with a series of project proposals, including the already approved and funded project “Bulgaria’s alpine plant diversity under climate change pressure: Setup of GLORIA long-term monitoring sites and risk assessment of diversity losses (GLORIA – Bulgaria)” (contract КП-06-Н21/16 - 19.12.2018).

The long-term objectives of the project are:

1) to assess the risk of alpine plant diversity loss in Bulgaria caused by climate change and propose appropriate conservation recommendations;

2) to join the worldwide initiative – GLORIA (Global Observation Research Initiative in Aline Environments) for the long-term observation of alpine biota and its response to climate change.

The specific project objectives are:
  1. To select and establish appropriate study regions in two high mountain regions in Bulgaria – Rila and Pirin Mts.
  2. To collect standardised (within the GLORIA network), quantitative data about the alpine plant diversity, i.e. species composition, cover and abundance of species, percentage of unvegetated surface, soil temperature, snow cover period.
  3. To study plant traits which contribute to species survival in extreme environments and adaptation to climate change – special attention will be paid to endemics and taxa of conservation concern.
  4. To assess the risk of biodiversity loss and ecosystem instability due to climate change and propose recommendations for mitigation of the climate change impacts and long-term conservation of the alpine plant diversity.

Despite the fact, the project is for conducting of fundamental research, the obtained results will contribute to conservation of the alpine biodiversity and mitigation of the adverse impacts of climate change. Thus, the project will contribute to solving social problems, especially for maintaining the ecosystem services the alpine biodiversity provides, e.g. supply of drinking water, disaster risk reduction (avalanches, flooding, landslides, substrate erosion), aesthetic appreciation of the alpine species and landscapes (cultural services, crucial e.g. for tourism development). Maintaining rich and healthy mountain ecosystems is crucial for the ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to climate change, that is the use of the biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. This EbA approach has been recognised as a significant strategy for disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR), which is defined as “sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to reduce disaster risk, with the aim to achieve sustainable and resilient development” (CBD Technical Series No. 85).

With this project Bulgaria will join GLORIA – the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments, a long lasting global network. The project will provide the baseline data for Bulgaria and would contribute to the global assessment of the climate change impacts on alpine biodiversity. Developments of the GLORIA monitoring network are most advanced on a European level, however, they are still lacking on the Balkan Peninsula.

Project duration: 2018-2021

Coordinator: Assoc. Prof. Anna Ganeva, PhD

Latest news

The first results of the project implementation were presented at the International Seminar of Ecology 2020, held online on 23 and 24 April 2020. An oral presentation entitled "Monitoring the impact of climate change on the alpine lichen and plant diversity – the GLORIA-Bulgaria project" presented the project aims and tasks, methodological approach, the way of setting sample plots in Rila Mts., and the first results obtained. 90 species of vascular plants 10 species of bryophytes and 35 species of lichenised fungi were recorded in the sampling plots located on 4 summits. The variety of vascular plants in a sample area of 1 sq.m varies from 2 to 14 species. The lowest was the number of species recorded in the west facing sampling areas. Most often recorded vascular plants are: Campanula orbelica, Dianthus microlepis, Agrostis rupestris, Sesleria comosa, Jacobaea abrotanifolia subsp. carpathica, Euphrasia minima, as well as species of Festuca and Carex.
Endemics (Campanula orbelica, Crocus veluchensis, Dianthus microlepis, Jasione bulgarica, Pedicularis orthantha, Sesleria comosa, etc.) represent 12.5% of the species in the 1 m² plots and 10% of the species in the summit area sections. Regarding the chorological types, the European (13.3%), Arctic-Alpine (12.2%), Balkan-Carpathian (11.1%) and Balkan (8,9%) species prevail. Some species (e.g. Huperzia selago, Hypochaeris maculata subsp. pelivanovicii, Saxifraga pedemontana subsp. cymosa, Soldanella pusilla) demonstrate preference to specific exposure. Bryophyte species Andreaea blytii was found for the first time in Bulgaria.
The planned fieldwork in Rila Mt.was carried out between July and September. 64 sample plots were laid out for long-term monitoring. Species composition of flora (incl. bryophytes) and lichens, projective coverage of species and frequency were recorded in each sampl lot. Soil thermometers were installed for long-term reading of soil temperature dynamics. Standard field forms for each sample lot were completed. The data from the field forms is to be submitted to the GLORIA database.