Today marked the first day of the 2022 conference for our new LIFE Apollo butterfly project. Under the title “Science, ecology and innovation for Parnassius apollo conservation in Central Europe” scientists from all over Europe are coming together in Poland to discuss the history, current status and possible next steps to conserve this iconic butterfly.
The kick-off day saw a number of presentations on the conservation status, threats, genetics and breeding approaches for Apollo. All of these were followed by some interesting discussions around the topics, and best approaches for the current project. The presentations were also livestreamed to the project website (LINK), where summaries of the sessions will soon be available as well.
The topics covered on the first day
After a warm welcome and introduction to the conference, the first session gave an overview of the status and threats of Parnassius apollo. You can read more about its role as umbrella species (= a species whose protection also protects other species or the whole ecosystem) in this post.
Gerard Talavera from the Institut Botanic de Barcelona (CSIC) gave a fascinating overview of the role genetic research plays in the conservation of threatened species. From outbreeding depression (the danger of breeding individuals that are completely unrelated) to different types of genetic analyses and approaches. As with so many topics in conservation, his most important message was: further research is urgently needed, and a case-by-case (and species-by-species) assessment is vital for making correct decisions.
This was followed by an explanation of the breeding methods used for Apollo reintroductions, before a panel discussion allowed speakers and attendees to ask their questions, and give comments. Further sessions covered the legal framework, appropriate habitat management and iNaturalist, the citizen science platform used as part of the LIFE Apollo 2020 project.
The first day will be closed by a practical demonstrations of monitoring dogs. Tuesday will see more discussions and workshops on various topics around the right approaches to (Apollo) butterfly conservation, before excursions to a breeding facility and nature reserve on Wednesday.
After this conference all project partners will go back to their respective work, inspired by the active discussions and ready to tackle the next stage of Apollo butterfly reintroduction in Austria, Czechia and Poland!
Find out more about the project on its official website: parnassius-apollo.life