Croatia Research Objectives - Operation Wallacea

Croatia Research Objectives

Krka National Park

The Krka Valley runs from the Dinaric mountains bordering Bosnia to the Adriatic and is only 60km in length. However, since the river runs through limestone there are some spectacular gorges and this is one of the most scenic river valleys in Europe. It is also important from a biodiversity viewpoint containing 20 endemic fish species and spectacular cave systems containing a number of potentially new species to science.

Tourism in the Krka Valley is concentrated in the lower end of the valley and few people visit the central and northern parts of the valley. The Krka National Park authorities have built a research centre and museum in a remote part of the valley, in an attempt to attract more visitors away from the tourist hotspots. This project is working with scientists to provide data on the status of the endemic fish species, describing the cave fauna, examining how so many species of snake are separating their niches in the valley and assessing the impact of wolves moving down the valley and on the surrounding plateaus on the native jackal and fox populations. All these data are being fed back to the Krka valley research centre and the Park authorities hope to use this initial work as a way of attracting additional international researchers to the valley.

Mljet National Park

The first marine protected area in the Mediterranean was established to protect the stone reef off the coast of the scenic and mainly forested island of Mljet. However, the protected area still allowed fishing to continue in the surrounding waters, but catches have dropped so markedly in recent times that the Mljet Park authorities are now introducing a series of No Take Zones. The Opwall teams at this site are helping with research on the fish and macroinvertebrate populations in these proposed No Take areas and in adjacent waters which will continue to be fished, to provide data on the effectiveness of the proposed management scheme. In addition, data are being collected on the verdant seagrass beds around the island.