11 June 2020
The increasing human impact in Romanian caves raises the urgency of publishing a correct database of the strictly-adapted cave fauna. Previous attempts at indexing cave fauna and classifying caves by using their fauna opened many questions regarding the use of an incomplete list of cave species and mixed lists of troglobionts/stygobionts with troglophiles/stygophiles for ranking caves with priority for protection. It has also become obvious that there is a need to publish a list of Romanian cave species that are under threat. Cave species in Romania (and elsewhere) are endemic on small ranges, are unique and must be considered as important units for conservation. A cave must be equally protected if it has one or more rare and strictly endemic cave species. Although not exhaustive, we here provide the first checklist of Romanian troglobionts/stygobionts developed in the framework of the DARKFOOD and GROUNDWATERISK projects, coordinated by the “Emil Racovita” Institute of Speleology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The GIS application was used to complement the checklist of cave species with data on caves and surface environments above the caves. Until complete data on species diversity and population sizes are made available for each cave, measures of conservation can be implemented, based on the presence/absence of cave species, while classifications of caves for protection, based on the number of species, must be avoided. We also propose a list of Romanian caves with fauna that are under threat and a tentative Red List of Romanian troglobiont/stygobionts.
This is the first database with identified troglobiont and stygobiont species of Romania, with a critical analysis of their distribution inside the country. A list of caves that need protection for their rare and unique species and a tentative Red List of Romanian cave fauna are also added. A total of 173 species were identified, of which 77 troglobionts and 96 stygobionts are currently registered in 366 caves. The database is divided into two parts, one part with a list of troglobionts, their revised systematic position, cave name, cave code and geographic region; and the second part with the same information on stygobionts. The database represents the contribution of many active researchers, who are the authors of this paper and of review publications of many other authors of the "Emil Racoviță" Institute of Speleology.