Effective policy making and management relies on a solid knowledge base which largely depends on the availability and quality of underpinning data and the systems needed to share it between scientists, decision makers and managers. This is particularly true for complex phenomena as IAS. In response to the IAS growing concern in Bulgaria and the region the East and South European Network for IAS was established. The main goal of the project will be Networking and development of IAS tools in the frame of ESENIAS in order to support the management of alien species in Bulgaria. It will include: To develop the necessary technical infrastructure and tools; Strengthen the regional cooperation; Raise the public awareness; Develop cooperation with other IAS databases and gateways at all levels. The main outcome of the project will be IAS Networking and tools for information exchange between ESENIAS countries and increased protection of native ecosystems against IAS in Bulgaria. This multilateral Partnership will provide a template for effective transboundary cooperation and information (data, methods, models) sharing to address current and emerging IAS challenges. The main outcome from the partnership will be a regional network fully integrated in ERA and including the following specific joint outputs: • joint standardised and harmonised methodology for data collection, analysis, database use, dissemination and further outreach; • joint information sharing tool and a database; • Common lists of alien species and priority species in the region; • Joint IAS early warning tool; • IAS expert register, responsible institution register, lists of projects and publications; • Analysis of IAS legislation and management practices; • Tools facilitating communication, awareness raising and capacity building.
Summary of project results
ESENIAS were established to facilitate solving IAS issues at regional level and to implement the requirement of EU Regulation 1143/2014 on IAS. Consequently, 12 countries were involved in the ESENIAS activities.The main goal of the Project was networking and development of IAS tools in the frame of ESENIAS in order to support the management of alien species in Bulgaria and in the overall region. The main results of the ESENIAS-TOOLS project and the partnership developed are: 1) joint standardised and harmonised methods for data collection, analysis, database use, dissemination and further outreach adopted; 2) technical infrastructure for the network, including a geo-referenced database, and tools created; 3) data on alien species from the ESENIAS countries collected and entered into the database; 4) common lists of alien species and priority species for the ESENIAS region and for Bulgaria compiled; 5) the collaboration within ESENIAS strengthened and extended, 3 new member countries (Slovenia, Hungary and Ukraine) joined ESENIAS; 6) information exchanged and shared and networking and cooperation with other organizations, institutions and networks developed; 7) the project results disseminated (205 communications) and published (5 books, 54 scientific articles, 86 abstracts), public awareness raised; 8)28 new alien marine species for ESSENIAS region were discovered (Albania, Greece, Italy and Turkish);4 new freshwater alien species for Bulgaria were newly recorded;4 new vascular species for Bulgaria and Serbia were newly recorded;2 newly recorded fungi for Bulgaria. The main outcome of the project is IAS networking and tools for information exchange between ESENIAS countries and increased protection of native ecosystems against IAS in Bulgaria.The implementation of bilateral case study (Bulgaria – Iceland), 4 short and study visits, joint field trips, preparation of 9 joint publications and organization of a training course contributed to strengthening the relations with donor countries. The project results will be of benefit for the IAS scientists, policy makers, managers and the public at national, regional and European level.
Summary of bilateral results
Case study 2: Comparative study on the effect of hydrological regime on the distribution of the invasive diatom Didymosphenia geminata in extreme environments (Icelandic rivers and lakes, and Bulgarian high-mountain lakes was conducted within the ESENIAS-TOOLS project. It was implemented under the bi-lateral cooperation between participants from the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, BAS, Reykjavik University and the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries of Iceland. The main aim was to study the occurrence and distribution of the invasive alien freshwater diatom Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo) in Iceland and Bulgaria and to compare the results with previous studies from 1980 and 2000-2001. Two short and study visits of the Bulgarian team in Iceland (in the periods 19-25.07.2015 г. and 23-30.07.2016) and two visits of the Icelandic team in Bulgaria (in October 2015 and March 2016) were conducted. Joint field surveys were organised in Bulgaria – in the region of the Sedemte Rila Lakes in the Rila Mountains, and in Iceland – in the Elliðaár River, Elliðavatn Lake and the tributaries Suðurá and Hólmsá. Diatom samples were collected during the fiels surveys, and data from literature and previous studies were reviewed and summarised. Permanent slides were prepared, the diatom taxa were identified and counted. Taxonomic revision of the available diatom lists for Iceland was made. The relationships with environmental factors, including water physical, chemical and hydrological parameters, were studied and compared with results from previous study periods. The obtained results about changes in taxonomic composition, quntative parameters and relation to environmental parameters were summarised and presented jointly at scientific forums (four oral and two poster presentations). Nine joint publications were prepared – six abstracts and three scientific articles are published, while one book chapter was submitted for publishing.