Balkan Herps project

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Balkan Herps project

Postby Márton Szabolcs » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:41 pm

Dear Forumers,

My name is Márton Szabolcs, I am an assistant research fellow in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In the last couple of years I have worked in the Balkan Peninsula, mostly in Albania to update the knowledge on the distribution of amphibians and reptiles living there and I participated in fieldwork related to the Greek meadow viper in Albania and Greece.

Now I am working on a project called Balkan Herps. It is kind of a citizen science project, where everybody can upload their occurence records of amphibians and reptiles from the Balkan Peninsula. I write here because I would like to ask the Fieldherping forum community to send data to the project.
The main objective of the project is to investigate the relationship between amphibian and reptile species ranges, diversity and protected areas (PA). We would like to assess the efficiency of the existing PA network and detect needs for PA designation. The project is led by me, Edvárd Mizsei from the University of Debrecen, Hungary and Daniel Jablonski from the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.

In the beginning we will create species distribution models (SDM) based on occurrence records. We would like to use the biomod2 method in R which is the most advanced tool in SDM. After this we will use the systematic conservation planning tool Zonation to investigate the relationship between SDMs and PAs and to reveal unprotected but important areas. This is especially significant in candidate countries of the European Union where new NATURA 2000 areas will be created and this study can be an important baseline in the process. As the Balkan Peninsula is highly diverse in amphibians and reptiles we believe this project is very important for the effective conservation of them.

We created an online platform called Balkan Herps (http://openbiomaps.org/projects/balkanherps/) where we already have more than 12000 records from all of the Balkan countries. The database is not available for visitors and registered members only see their own records. Unregistered people only see dots in a map, but not what they mean. The database is not going to be published and we will treat it as confidential. However, in the publication’s supplementary we will attach the species distribution model maps with the training and testing localities, which will contain only 20-30 % of the original records after a spatially balanced resampling of the database. Published data should be uploaded as well, but in this case please add the reference in the “source” column. We created a short video on how to use the platform: https://youtu.be/qsu-0UeC46g

If you have any questions about the project and want to know more please write me an email to szabolcs.marci gmail.

Thanks for reading and best wishes,

Márton Szabolcs
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:53 pm

I need invitation code to register. Btw does this project make use of data from balcanica.into?
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Ilian Velikov » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:46 pm

Looks like a great project.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Btw does this project make use of data from balcanica.into?


It does. I can see my records that I have submitted to balcanica.info, which leads me to my questions:

1) Are those dots/records that are already in the database tagged with the names of the people that submitted them, i.e. if I register now would the already existing records be linked to my profile and would I be able to view them as mine when I log in?

2) If the answer to 1) is no, how would you avoid duplication of records? e.g. if I'm not sure whether a particular dot is my record or someone else's from the same location and I submit mine but it turns out to be the same record wouldn't that affect the reliability of the data?
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Ilian Velikov » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:55 pm

And yes, it does indeed require an invitation code...

Also another question came to my mind - in this case how do you define the border of the Balkan Peninsula to the north?
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Márton Szabolcs » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:24 pm

Hi,

Thanks for the questions!
As Ilian noticed it is possible to upload records without registration. However, if you would like to register please write me an email to szabolcs.marci gmail adress.

Yes the database contains the records which were previously sent to Balcanica.info. I don"t know yet what to do with the data duplication and visibility problem. I will discuss it with the OpenBioMaps staff and I will write back next week.

Ilian, it is a very good question about the northern border of the area. We delineated the Balkans as the country borders of Balkan countries as this is a conservation project and conservation legislations and decisions are often made in the country level not geographic area level.
So the northern border is comprised by the northern borders of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. However we are also looking for records from Romania, as the Danube River is usually treated as the northern border of the peninsula. You can upload records from the area bordered by the Danube and the Black sea.

Thanks,

Márton
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:26 pm

Márton Szabolcs wrote:So the northern border is comprised by the northern borders of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria.

I'm sure the Slovenes will be very, very unhappy with this solution/decision/delineation, but who cares...
The reasons you gave for your delineation are both clear and reasonable.
Good luck.

BTW, the northern border of the Balkan peninsula is conventionally delineated along the rivers Kupa,
Sava and Danube - which has a lot to do with human history, but nothing with the fauna.
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Márton Szabolcs » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:04 pm

Berislav, yes Kupa-Sava-Danube is a common delineation of the Balkan Peninsula, but Soca (Isonzo)-Sava-Danube is also used. The latter means that even Italy has a tiny part in the Balkans :D . Not easy.
It is also written in the book Balkan Biodiversity that there is no good delineation, the border mainly in the Western Balkans is unclear, but most people define the Balkans as the country borders as "scientific research has often been confined within national boundaries".
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:31 pm

Márton Szabolcs wrote:Berislav, yes Kupa-Sava-Danube is a common delineation of the Balkan Peninsula, but Soca (Isonzo)-Sava-Danube is also used. The latter means that even Italy has a tiny part in the Balkans :D . Not easy.

But how can you connect Soča with Sava - geometrically? There is a gap... But never mind the Italians,
poor Slovenes - this would mean that quite a BIG part of Slovenia belongs to the Balkans - which they
so very strongly detest and (try to) deny...
In any case, quite enough of this off-topic matter, so, as for me, roger and OUT.
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Edvard Mizsei » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:17 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:Looks like a great project.

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Btw does this project make use of data from balcanica.into?


It does. I can see my records that I have submitted to balcanica.info, which leads me to my questions:

1) Are those dots/records that are already in the database tagged with the names of the people that submitted them, i.e. if I register now would the already existing records be linked to my profile and would I be able to view them as mine when I log in?

2) If the answer to 1) is no, how would you avoid duplication of records? e.g. if I'm not sure whether a particular dot is my record or someone else's from the same location and I submit mine but it turns out to be the same record wouldn't that affect the reliability of the data?


All records from balcanica.info still has the original data provider name. If you register to Balkan Herps, we can connect your previous data to your account.

However, the planned analyses is not sensitive to duplicates or sampling hotspots. We will resample the data on an 1×1 km grid, and continue with a spatially balanced resampling.

I would like to ask again everybody to start submitting observations, because all of you have a lot of data, and we need those.
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Re: Balkan Herps project

Postby Edvard Mizsei » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:48 pm

We have now 13000 records. But we would like to double it at least. Please share your knowledge and upload the observations. There are thousands of records hiding in this community, and conservation should gain benefits of it.

http://openbiomaps.org/projects/balkanh ... p?database
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