April 13, 2014

Endangered Plants of Transylvania

There are many endangered things in Romania and in Transylvania; animals, cultures, and natural resources are some of them. Many plants in Transylvania are also in danger of becoming extinct. There are some plants for which Transylvania is the only place in the entire European Union that they still exist. None of them is thriving in any way, and all are now under protection. Three of these are the Nepeta ucranica, the Goniolimon tataricum and the Centaurea ruthenica.

            The Nepeta crania, a part of the catmint family, is a plant that currently survives in Transylvania and in north-eastern Bulgaria. There are currently only six known locations that this plant grows in all of the European Union. One of those places is the Tertiu Face. It is believed that the Nepeta ucranica grew strong and in abundance there at one point in time, at least until 1983. At this time the ground that the Nepeta ucranica called home was turned into grazing lands for sheep. The same thing happened at Parului Hill.

Next there is the Goniolimon tataricum, also known as the German statice. This plant is a xeric sub-desert steppe species, because of its need for sandy soil and full sun. It is usually found in extremely isolated areas now, if it is found at all. Most botanists will find it at the top of peaks in the mountain regions. These peaks can be found on the Transylvanian Plains. There are approximately 12 locations where the Goniolimon tataricum grows. The Transylvanian Plains is just one of those locations.

            The third endangered plant found in the area is called  Centaurea ruthenica. This is one of the most, if not the most, endangered plant that grows in the region of  Transylvania. The Centaurea ruthenica (part of the Centurea or knapweed family) is a strain of the Centaurea plant, of which there are 600 species. It is believed that the Centaurea ruthenica is the most primal of the Centaurea strain. In the European Union there are only two small populations of this plant. Both are located in Transylvania, in isolated areas.

            Some people out there do not care, and they think that these are just plants.  These plants are now known as national plants, especially the Centaurea ruthenica because it only grows in Transylvania. All three plants are sensitive to human encroachment. Humans are taking away the land that these plants are growing on and making them into something else. The land where the Nepeta ucranica was growing was made into grazing land for sheep. There is a reason that the only areas these plants can grow are isolated. Humans have no use for that isolated land, at least not yet. 

People have to be aware of these things. People do not always think of these things when they are picking flowers that they think will look nice on their kitchen table or in a window sill. Plants needs to be protected as much as animals do.

April 5, 2014

Endangered Animals in Transylvania

             Something many people do not always think about are all of the endangered species that exist in our world today. Transylvania has vast forests and natural landscapes. Transylvania has endangered animals living in its territory, just as most of the world does. 

             One of those animals is the Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat, the Romanian Hamster is another endangered species, and another, still, is the Asprete.

            The Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat is also known by the scientific name of Rhinolophus Euryale. Mediterranean Horseshoe Bats are classified as mammals. They  prefer to live in underground roosts. During the winter they choose to hibernate, as many mammals do. These underground roosts can be found in broadleaved woodlands. Mediterranean Horseshoe Bats prefer habitats where they can forage for their food. One major threat to the Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat is the loss of habitats, both foraging woodlands and underground roosts. One of the reasons for cave disturbance is tourism. Many caves that the Mediterranean Horseshoe Bats call home have been used for tours. This would pose a disturbance for the bats because their roosts are no longer safe for them and their young, so and they will change roosts. The Mediterranean Horseshoe Bats also have a steadily declining population, adding to their endangerment. The Mediterranean Horseshoe Bats are protected under a lot of legislations and animal rights codes.

            The Romanian Hamster is another endangered animal. The scientific name for the Romanian Hamster is Mesocricetus newtoni. It is known to live in dry lands, for example, steppe grasslands, cereal fields, vineyards, gardens, etc. The main reason for its endangerment is the loss of its habitat. Many of the habitats the Romanian Hamster uses have been taken over by intensive agriculture. The caretakers of the vineyards, cereal fields and gardens likely view the Romanian Hamsters as rodents and drive them off, restricting their habitats even more. The population of the Romanian Hamster is in a decline. There is still not much known about their population, meaning that they need to be monitored on a regular basis. They are on the Red Lists of Romania and Bulgaria, which means that they are under the protection of Romanian legislation.

            A third endangered animal inTransylvania is the Asprete. The Asprete are fish that  swim in clear, cold streams. They can usually be found in mountain streams, under rocks or near the deeper parts of the streams. They are considered to be bottom dwellers, mainly surfacing to eat. They eat the larvae of insects like mayflies and stoneflies. Aspretes are not seen often. There is not much information on their population due to their habit of hiding under rocks. The main threat to Aspretes is the loss of their habitat due to deforestation, dam construction and the extraction of stones from the streams where they live. The Asprete prefer fresh water, limiting their choices for habitats. Currently. their main choice of habitats is below dams due to the fact that the dam releases enough water for them to live. Luckily, the Asprete live in a protected area.