Since 2003, ADEPT has coordinated teams of British and Romanian specialists in the inventory of the important species and habitats of the area. The following is a partial list of work and reports carried out:
- Aquatic and semi-aquatic species and habitats including vegetation, fish, invertebrates: Dragulescu 2004, Banaduc, D., Banaduc, A., Dragulescu 2005
- Icthyofauna: Banaduc, D., 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007
- Hydrology and aquatic macroinvertebrates: Banaduc, A., 2004
- Birds: A Sandor 2003, Milvus 2004, David 2005, Milvus 2006, 2007
- Flora and habitats: Sarbu, Oroian 2003, Oroian 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. Cristea 2006. Jones 2006, 2007. Akeroyd 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, Schneider-Binder 2007, Akeroyd and Jones 2008.
- Fungi: Bucsa 2006
- Forests: Radu Stelian 2003, Gafta 2005, 2006, Abran, P., 2005, 2006, 2007
- Butterflies: Rakosy 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- Gastropods: Gheoca, 2004
- Bats: Farkas 2003, Coroiu 2005, 2006, 2007
- Mammals: Benedek 2003, 2004, Coroiu 2005, 2006, Abran, P., 2005, 2006, 2007
- Reptiles and amphibians: Hartel 2003, Ghira 2004, 2006
- Socio-economic baselines and surveys: 2003/4 and 2008 Popa, and others.
The research carried out by many of the contributors has played the major part in the designation of the area as the largest Natura 2000 Site of [European] Community Interest (SCI) in Romania’s continental biogeographic region, a significant achievement. This contribution to knowledge of the Saxon Villages region will be essential for those drawing up future management plans, although a huge amount of additional work needs to be carried out.
Work in some of these areas has been brought together in the Transylvanian Review of Systematical and Ecological Research, Vol 4 – The Saxon Villages Region of southeast Transylvania, 2007, including the following papers:
“Macromycetes of the Breite Nature Reserve of ancient oaks” by Livia Bucsa presents preliminary research on 121 species of macro-fungi collected on the Breite plateau in 2006.
“The riverside thickets of the Saxon Villages area of south-east Transylvania” by Constantin Dragulescu provides a summary of published botanical information on the area, together with results of the author’s study of pools, ditches, tall herb and arborescent communities. Of most concern for conservation are some 500 ha of willow and poplar communities of the Salicion albae alliance, which are in need of protection.
“Xerophilous and Xero-Mesophilous grasslands on slumping hills around the Saxon villages Apold and Saschiz ” by Erika Schneider-Binder is a summary of the author’s important long-term studies of unstable, species-rich hillocks that are a landscape feature of the Saxon Villages. The complex mosaic of xerophilic, mesophilic and even montane species, with local small-scale variation in plant communities, on steep, often unstable slopes is of great ecological importance and requires careful conservation measures.
“The challenge of High Nature Value grasslands conservation in Transylvania ”, by Andrew Jones, is an examination of the mosaic of grassland communities in the Târnava Mare Plateau with reference to the problem of conserving farm grassland in the face of the profound economic changes resulting from Romania’s EU accession. A key aspect of grassland conservation will be to protect and manage large contiguous areas, ensuring that farmers receive benefit from biodiversity conservation measures taken.
“The xero-mezophilic and xerophilic grasslands of Festuco-Brometea class in the Sighisoara-Târnava Mare potential Natura 2000 site”, by Silvia Oroian, Mariana Hiritiu and Manuela Curticapean, identifies the principal habitats and communities in the floristically rich dry grassland that is such a feature of the area. The authors provide extensive phyto-sociological tables and note the presence of 25 species of considerable rarity, either threatened at a European level or on national Red Lists.
“Ruderal flora of the Saxon Villages: a neglected conservation community” by John Akeroyd looks at a group of plants that are not rare but are often ignored by conservationists but are of major cultural significance. Several of these species have disappeared in other parts of Europe.
“Aspects regarding the terrestrial malacofauna of the Saxon Villages area of Southern Transylvania”, by Voichita Gheoca, presents a preliminary survey and systematic list of 50 molluscs in different habitats, especially riverside thickets, which were richest in species, including the edible Helix pomatia, which might be the basis of judicious economic exploitation.
“Benthic macro-invertebrate and fish communities of some southern Târnava Mare river tributaries” by Angela Curtean-Bănăduc and Doru Bănăduc is an extensive analysis of macro-invertebrate and fish communities in15 sections of the rivers feeding the Târnave Mare from the south. The authors show that these rivers are ecologically sensitive, with good populations of protected species, and that the Stejăreni and Criş valleys still remain substantially biologically intact. Other rivers are more impacted by human activity and all will require management and monitoring.
“The herpetofauna of the Sighisoara area”, by Ioan Ghira, gives a general account of the 13 amphibians and eight reptiles recorded in the area (of a national total herpetofauna of 42) in 2005-7. Notes on ecology, distribution and threats (14 species are threatened, including Pelobates fuscus) effectively make this a provisional Red Data book for the area.
“Distribution, population size and dynamics of the white stork (Ciconia ciconia L.) in the Hârtibaciu River basin” by Ferenc Kosa and Tamas Papp is based on data on breeding pairs collected in 2004, this shows that stork numbers in the Hârtibaciu River basin have decreased by some 30% since 1974, although the population appears to be potentially stable. It is worth noting that Milvus Group (including Tamas Papp), have identified the area as the most important Natura 2000 SPA in Transylvania, notably for its populations of Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina). Such high populations of raptors, as of large carnivore mammals, in the area are a good indication of pristine habitats.
“Small mammals (Insectivora and Rodentia) from the Agnita-Sighisoara area ” by Ana Maria Benedek shows that this group too is richly represented in the area. The variety of habitats, especially the margins of mixed broadleaf forest and cultivated fields, plays an important role, and 13 species (of 19 known) were captured in the present survey.