450 M2 of Protist Diversity: Conservation Area for Newly Discovered Ciliates in Salzburg


A pond in Salzburg has been granted nature conservation status due to its unusually diverse population of ciliates.

Vienna (I-Newswire) August 26, 2013 - As the results of an Austrian Science Fund FWF research project show, this small water body is home to an excess of 100 different species of ciliates, i.e., single celled organisms that have many hair-like cilia (e.g. Paramecium, the slipper-shaped ciliate). The data, which have been published in the scientific journal Diversity, also reveal that some of the species were previously unknown. They owe their survival to the vigilant taxonomists from the University of Salzburg, who saved the ephemeral pond from being filled in permanently and applied for conservation status. The latter was granted by the city of Salzburg and Krauthugel pond is now acknowledged as a globally unique "natural monument".

Cockatoos and cheetahs are clearly impressive organisms - ciliates less so. This explains the enormous efforts made to conserve some species while the loss of others goes entirely unnoticed. According to Prof. Wilhelm Foissner from the Department of Organismic Biology at the University of Salzburg, Austria however, the situation with regard to such species loss is decidedly dramatic: He estimates that for every multicellular species lost, a protist species also becomes extinct. Thanks to his efforts, 150 species of protists now have a protected habitat at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress.

By a Hair's Breadth
As recently as 2010, the survival of the numerous ciliates and their habitat was under threat: As part of an outdoor art project, the pond, which is sometimes dry, was filled in with earth. Thanks to the rapid reaction of Prof. Foissner and his colleagues, the owner removed the earth before any permanent damage was inflicted on the habitat and the city of Salzburg declared the pond a "natural monument".

A current publication by the research team in the scientific journal Diversity shows how justified this special conservation status is. Prof. Foissner explains: "We have been observing and analysing this water body for 30 years and have found over 100 species of ciliates - single-celled organisms with hair-like organelles called cilia - of which ten were undescribed. Quite remarkable in an area just 30 x 15 m in size!" This species diversity is probably due to the pond's alternating wet and dry phases, which provide special living conditions for different ciliate species for limited periods of time.

The pond's conservation status is one of a kind in the world. No other location is known that has been granted conservation status solely on account of its protist biodiversity. In Prof. Foissner's view this problem is not only due to the unprepossessing nature of the species in question: "Protists - that is life forms that are not fungi, animals or plants - are generally viewed as cosmopolitans and the only species that are usually deemed worthy of protection are those that are (still) restricted to a particular region. However, it is known today that the distribution of a good third of protists is restricted." Prof. Foissner also assumes that this applies to five of the new species whose presence he and his team were able to confirm in Krauthugel Pond, the official name of the water body. Despite comprehensive research, they failed to discover any other locations in which they are found.

Location and Species Protection
In the article in Diversity Prof. Foissner argues convincingly that the pond's special conservation status is particularly necessary on account of the presence of the newly discovered species. Some of them may very well only live there (endemic), and hence present one of the traditional arguments for special conservation status. Another - and new - argument is the so-called type locality. This refers to the locality from which a species has been described for the first time. The type locality is usually viewed as being of secondary significance in multicellular organisms which can be well conserved and held in collections as references. For microscopic organisms like ciliates, however, this is only possible in part. Consequently, the conservation of the type locality is very important because this enables its future use as a source of reference material.

Prof. Foissner and his team actually succeeded in persuading the officials responsible for nature conservation in Salzburg, and a total area of over 5,000 m2 has now been protected. In this way, the results of an FWF project have contributed to the implementation of new approaches in nature conservation.

Image and text available from 10 am CET on Monday, 26 August 2013, at:


Original publication: F. P. D. Cotterill, H. Augustin, R. Medicus 3 und W. Foissner. Conservation of Protists: The Krauthugel Pond in Austria, Diversity 2013, 5, 374-392; doi:10.3390/d5020374






About PR&D Public Relations for Research & Development

PR&D - Public Relations for Research & Development

Viennese agency for science-commun   More..ication

We inform 11000 science and business journalists
Our clients have at their disposal individual connections to over 2500 scientific and commercial journalists worldwide. An additional 8600 contacts are made available for them quickly and efficiently through trade-specific news services.

Thus equipped, we offer a singularly effective media work in the field of research and development and attain media attention for our clients in a total of 35 countries in Europe, America and Asia.

PR&D provides for a professional and successful implementation of media strategy starting from individual press releases to the supporting of overall media agendas, both at the national and international levels.Less..

Contact Information

PR&D Public Relations for Research & Development
Till C. Jelitto
Mariannengasse 8
1090
Phone : +43 1 505 70 44

Tags:

diversity   conservation   protists  

Published in:

Science and Research

Published On:

August 26, 2013

Print Release:

Print Release

If you have questions regarding information in this press release contact the company listed above. I-Newswire.com is a press release service and not the author of this press release.The information that is on or available through this site is for informational purposes only and speaks only as of the particular date or dates of that information. As some companies and PR Agencies submit their press releases once per week,month or quarter, make sure to check the official company website for accurate release dates as our site displays the I-Newswire.com press release distribution date only.We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of information on or available through this site, and we are not responsible for or omissions in that information or for actions taken in reliance on that information.


Related Releases

Tomsk Scientists Have Developed a Nanoceramic Analog of the Natural Bones
The scientists of Tomsk State University have completed the development of prostheses to replace small finger joints, using a nanoceramic material.

Leaving A Legacy? Honoring Someone Important? We Have Your Answer.
When choosing a gift for an event, or holiday, there is now an option that makes both the giver and receiver look more intelligent.

LDC Forms Early Drug Discovery Alliance with Daiichi Sankyo
Utilizing shared compound libraries for novel LDC targets.lead discovery center, ldc, daiichi sankyo

Gamry Instruments Launches New Online Shopping Site
Electrochemical Instruments hardware, parts and accessories now available online from Gamry Instruments.

Florida Health Equity Research Institute Established to Identify and Address Health Disparities
Collaboration of Florida's largest universities and health and government organizations serve as the go-to resource for Florida health equity researchers, students, healthcare professionals and the community.