Nationalparks Austria NPA
Eintrag Nr. 30144
Alpine treasures - Austrian endemic arachnids in Gesäuse National Park
Grundlagenerhebungen zur Biodiversität im Nationalpark Gesäuse
Fachbereich Naturschutz und Naturraum
In: eco.mont - Volume 2, Number 2, December 2010. pp 21 -28.
This paper deals with species whose range lies entirely (endemics) or predominantly (subendemics) within the political borders of Austria. The evolution and current distribution of Alpine endemics find their chief cause in the advent of the Pleistocene ice-ages, the destruction of much of the former fauna and in different forms of survival as well as migration from southern refugia. A first overview of endemic and subendemic arachnids of Austria shows 11 harvestman and 46 spider species. One hotspot of arachnological endemisms in the Eastern Alps are the north-eastern Calcareous Alps. The Gesäuse National Park, an exceptional area situated in the Ennstaler Alps (Styria, Austria), contains 6 subendemic harvestman and 12 endemic and subendemic spider species, i.e. 55% and 26% of the Austrian (subendemic) spectrum. Most of these Opiliones are soil-dwelling forms, most Araneae belong to the linyphiid genera Lepthyphantes s. l. and Troglohyphantes. All these species occur from the nival down to the montane zone, and prefer rock habitats, caves, avalanche corridors and natural woodlands. 100% of these harvestman and 57% of these spider species are Critically Endangered up to Vulnerable. So far, there is no legal protection for them. A main threat to those ice-age relicts is climate warming. There is a great need for conservation action on these endemics and for political support for the national park. Intensive basic research is required as well as encouragement for invertebrate specialists, the protection of endemics enshrined in law, conservation programmes and the creation of protected areas based on endemism hotspots, accompanied by public relations activities about these zoological treasures.