Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

WETLANET Report Summary

Project ID: 229802
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Bulgaria

Final Report Summary - WETLANET (Enhancing research potential by strengthening a local network of laboratories for studying wetland ecosystems functioning, restoration and management)

Executive summary:

The project objectives include:
(1) Improving the human capacity of the beneficiary in wetland studies,
(2) upgrading the existing technical capacity,
(3) achieving better integration of the beneficiary in ERA and
(4) dissemination of achievements of wetland science in the society.

The work programme of the project is organized in 6 work packages. The main results of the project achieved in its entire duration are as follows. In total, 64 research visits were carried out for exchange of know-how and experience. These were 23 short-term (up to 1 month), 13 middle-term (up to 3 months) and 1 long-term (up to 6 months) outgoing research visits of IBER-BAS staff members and PhD students to international research centres as well as 25 short-term and 2 middle-term incoming visits of foreign researchers to IBER-BAS. In total, 6 researchers with international experience were recruited; their work diversified and strengthened the research capacity of the beneficiary in wetland studies. Two of them were employed as senior permanent staff members of IBER-BAS with the project termination. Substantial improvements of the IBER-BAS technical and IT equipment was achieved, both by improving the technical capacity of three field stations for wetland studies and by improving the central laboratory unit at the headquarters in Sofia.

Project Context and Objectives:

The project WETLANET aims to enhance the research potential of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IBER-BAS) by strengthening a local laboratory network for studying wetlands ecosystem functioning, restoration and management. This laboratory network includes
(i) three remote field stations situated at wetlands of major ecological importance in the Lower Danube floodplain and at the Black Sea coastal area and
(ii) specialised laboratory units at the headquarters of IBER-BAS in Sofia.

The aim is targeted by a set of support activities directed to the improvement of the capacity of CLGE-BAS relative to the following aspects:

(i) human research potential;

(ii) technical research capacity;

(iii) strengthening integrative connections of IBER-BAS in the European Research Area (ERA);

(iv) wide dissemination and promotion of the activities and results in the society in view of increasing their socio-economic impact.

Outputs:

Output 1: Better integration of IBER-BAS in ERA as an internationally-renown partner or an initiator of collaboration projects in the next FP7 calls. Turning IBER-BAS into a competent regional research centre in wetland science, with added value to the regional social and economic development.

Output 2: More adequate, improved scientific service of IBER-BAS to the society in order to meet its needs of knowledge of wetland functioning, management approaches and restoration activities aiming at the sustainable development. This includes the development of management decisions in nature conservation, scientific support of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and management decisions in preserving quality, quantity and durability of water resources, monitoring of important ecosystems and other problems of primary socio-economic importance.

The project objectives include:

Objective 1. Improving the human capacity of IBER-BAS in wetland studies by the organisation of outgoing and incoming visits for exchange of know-how and experience, the recruitment by the WETLANET laboratories via employing incoming experienced researchers and organisation of training events.

Objective 2. Upgrading the existing technical capacity of the WETLANET laboratories by development and renewal of the research equipment and development of IT capacity, thus allowing IBER-BAS to further improve its scientific potential and to strengthen the overall research performance.

Objective 3. Achieving better integration of IBER-BAS in ERA by organising a conference, workshops and training courses and by exposing the research staff to international scientific environment, thus promoting research collaborations and establishment of multilateral partnership that can result in the formation of a consortium (consortia) carrying out high-level wetland research of socio-economic impact at regional and global scale (inter alia, targeting priorities of Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)).

Objective 4. Dissemination of achievements of wetland science (including recent developments in WETLANET laboratories) in the society (targeting mostly business, industry, authorities, nongovernmental organisations and educational establishments), by promotional events and publication activities, in view of increasing visibility of the research activities of IBER-BAS and improving their response to socio-economic needs of the country.

Project Results:

WP1 PROJECT COORDINATION

The present consortium consists of a single organisation, i.e. the Central Laboratory of General Ecology – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (CLGE-BAS). In the course of the reorganisation of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, since 1 July 2010 it was reorganised into Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research (IBER-BAS) by merging with the former Institute of Botany and Institute of Zoology (both also being units of the BAS). IBER-BAS is the official legal successor of the three former entities.

Task 1.1. Organisation, monitoring and assessment of project activities

This task was scheduled for the entire duration of the project. It included the regular organisation of the meetings of the Core Team and the project participants; regular discussion and assessment of all the tasks and coordination of activities related to different work packages in order to achieve efficiency in completing project objectives; maintenance of project documentation (reports, schedules, plans, etc.); coordination of contacts with EC.

Start-up Meeting of the WETLANET project

It was held on 29th April 2009 at the headquarters of the CLGE–BAS in Sofia. Almost all members of the research staff of CLGE–BAS attended the event. Professor L. Kazakov, chief executive for biological sciences at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, attended the meeting as an official guest. Most of the members of the Core Team of the project attended the event, including Ms L. Pavlova, Senior Expert in the Scientific Research Department and NCP for FP7 Capacities Program, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria and Ms R. Hardalova, Head of the Biodiversity Department, National Nature Conservation Service, Ministry of Environment and Waters of the Republic of Bulgaria. The meeting was held in two sessions. The first session included a welcoming talk by the Director of CLGE-BAS, a greeting address by Professor L. Kazakov, a project overview presented by the project coordinator and two brief presentations by Ms Pavlova (CAPACITIES Program: actual problems in project implementation) and Ms Hardalova (National policy of wetlands and their biodiversity).

Annual Review Meeting (12th month)

The Annual Review Meeting of WETLANET was held on 28.04.2010 at the headquarters of the CLGE–BAS. All WP Leaders and most of the Task Leaders attended the meeting. The meeting included a short overview for the first 12 months of the WETLANET project presented by the project coordinator and annual reports by each WP leader.

Review Period Meeting (18th month)

The Review Period Meeting (18th month) of WETLANET was held on 12.10.2010 at the headquarters of the IBER–BAS. The coordinator presented the core contents of the report to the European Commission. The project manager presented the result of the financial audit. The participants agreed that the first reporting period was successfully implemented and suggested some improvements of the work organization for the second reporting period.

Review Period Meeting (30th month)

The Review Period Meeting (30th month) was held on 26.09.2011 at the headquarters of the IBER–BAS. The project coordinator presented the core contents of report for the one-year period between 18th and 30th month. The participants agreed that the one-year period was successfully implemented and suggested some amendments for the next reporting period.

Final Meeting

The Final Meeting of WETLANET project was held on 30.03.2012 at the headquarters of IBER-BAS. The first session was opened by the project coordinator, followed by talks of the WP leaders. They presented the main results of each work package for the total duration of WETLANET. The second session was scientific and contained presentations of the WETLANET researchers employed in the frames of the project. The following talks were given: Dr M. Jocque: 'Fluctuating water levels and metacommunity dynamics in Srebarna'; Dr P. Zehtindjiev: 'The contribution to WETLANET and wetlands studies: bird migration, bird malaria parasites and bird population processes'; Dr C. Casagranda: 'Does the benthic food supply limit waterbird densities and use in the long term'

Other important management activities

In order to assure sustainability of the project activities, members of the project team attended meetings of international bodies maintaining long-term international research activities and had coordination visits in foreign research centres. The core-team member Dr S. Chankova had a short-term visit (27-31 May 2009) in Portugal in order to discuss a workshop program and possibilities for specialisations of young researchers. Two core team participants (Dr Y. Uzunov and Dr L. Pehlivanov) visited the Ramsar Convention Secretariat in Switzerland (October 2009) in order to participate a workshop on geomorphological aspects of wetland management and the potential participation of the WETLANET team in a forthcoming joint project. The project coordinator attended the FP7 Capacities meeting in Granada, Spain, in March 2010.

Task 1.2. Establishment and maintenance of the management information system

This task was scheduled for the entire duration of the project. It aimed at the regular communication among the project participants. The e-mail distribution list was established and used on occasions. The electronic bulletin (e-bulletin) was a part of the information system for administrative management of the project. These two tools were regularly used during the project implementation and they assured the efficient internal information flow.

WP2 TRANSFER OF KNOW-HOW AND EXPERIENCE

The objective of this WP is to contribute to the improvement of the human capacity of IBER-BAS in wetland studies (Project Objective 1) and to the better integration in ERA (Project Objective 3) by training and transfer of know-how and experience. It contains two mutually connected activities, which are further referred as Task 2.1 and Task 2.2.

The coordination of the WP activities was performed via the visit schedule approval meetings, which were held annually. This mechanism succeeded in providing the efficient annual approval of the applications for outgoing and incoming visits submitted by the IBER-BAS staff-members ensuring the most appropriate utilization of the available funds and the preparation of the annual WP summary reports on time.

The main results achieved are connected with improving our staff capacity in the following directions:
(1) application of molecular techniques for examination and assessment of biodiversity in wetlands;
(2) molecular markers for examination of genetic polymorphism in aquatic organisms;
(3) developments and implementation of indices for assessment of the water quality in wetlands and related water bodies;
(4) development of models for integrated management of wetland ecosystems;
(5) community ecology of seaweeds in marine shallow coastal areas;
(6) application of QR modelling of structure and functioning of water ecosystems;
(7) approaches in studies of the impact of parasitism on wetland ecosystems, with special emphasis on biological invasions;
(8) taxonomic expertise on helminth parasites from wetland birds as well as on key aquatic organisms such as mayflies and stoneflies;
(9) modern methods in field hydrobiology;
(10) recent approaches in biodiversity databasing;
(11) physiological responses of plants to environmental pollutants;
(12) modelling of environmental effects of pollutants, including in wetlands.

Task 2.1. Outgoing visits

For the entire duration of the project, we have planned 5 short-term, 8 middle-term and 3 long-term visits. The implementation of this task resulted in 23 short-term (up to 1 month), 13 middle term (up to 3 months) and 1 long-term (up to 6 months) outgoing visits carried out for the entire duration of the project. This deviation in the number of visits is due to the substantial increase of the number of young researchers and PhD student achieved after the transformation of CLGE-BAS into IBER-BAS in July 2010. Furthermore, the increased number of the visits was entirely in the frames of the envisaged work package funds. The possibility for this became visible after the financial report for the first 18 months of the project. Therefore, the visit schedule approval meetings (12th and 24th months) focused on the more efficient utilization of the available funds for exchange of know-how and experience. With the actualised annual visit schemes (Milestone 6), we achieved a sound training program for our staff members and students.

The following international research centres hosted the outgoing visits:
(1) Department of Wetland Ecology, Biological Station of the Donana Reserve (CSIC), Seville, Spain;
(2) Institute of Aquaculture, Torre la Sal, Castellon (CSIC), Spain;
(3) Department of Biodiversity Informatics at Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands;
(4) Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, Netherlands;
(5) Danube River Basin International Youth Research Camp 2010, Sighetu Marmatiei, Maramures; Green Valley Association (GVA), Romania;
(6) Instituto National de Recursos Geneticos (INRB I. P.), Molecular Biology Group, Lisbon, Portugal;
(7) National Natural History Museum, Paris, France;
(8) Informatics Institute, Faculty of Science, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands;
(9) Czech Academy of Sciences, European Centre of Global Change Research, Czech Globe, Brno and Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic;
(10) University of Southern Denmark, Denmark;
(11) University College of Dublin (USD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ireland;
(12) University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Austria;
(13) University of Gdansk, Poland;
(14) Institute of Ecology, Nature Research Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania;
(15) Department of Parasitology; Faculty of Science, Charles University; Prague, Czech Republic;
(16) Molecular Ecology and Evolution Laboratory, Lund University, Sweden;
(17) Centre for Animal Movement Research, Lund University, Sweden;
(18) National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics Trieste, Italy;
(19) Centre d'Estudis Avancats de Blanes, CSIC, Spain;
(20) University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway;
(21) Netherlands Institute of Ecology NIOO, Netherlands;
(22) Environmental Protection and Water Management Research Institute, Budapest (VITUKI), Hungary;
(23) Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (IBSS), Sevastopol, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine;
(24) Federal Environment Agency (EAA), Vienna, Austria;
(25) Museum of Zoology, Lausanne, Switzerland;
(26) Division of Plant Health, Crop Research Institute (CRI), Prague, Czech Republic;
(27) Jaume Ferrer Station- Menorca (CSIC), Spain;
(28) Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis (IMAA-CNR), Tito, Italy;
(29) University of Vienna, Department of Environmental Microbiology, Vienna, Austria;
(30) Plant Protection Institute, National Research Council, Sesto Fiorentino (Florence), Italy;
(31) Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Ceské Budejovice, Czech Republic;
(32) Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), Oslo, Norway.

Task 2.2. Incoming visits of experienced researchers from other centres

For the entire duration of the project, we have planned 16 short-term and 3 middle-term incoming visits. The target was achieved and exceeded by the organisation of 25 short-term and 2 middle-term research visits for the entire duration of the project.

Home institutions of the experienced researchers that visited IBER-BAS were:
(1) Institute of Ecology, Vilnius, Lithuania;
(2) Institute of Aquaculture, Torre la Sal, Castellon, CSIC, Spain;
(3) National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Belgium;
(4) Instituto National de Recursos Geneticos INRB, Lisbon, Portugal;
(5) Institute of LNEG, Lisbon, Portugal;
(6) Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Odessa, Ukraine;
(7) Russian Research Institute for Integrated Water Management and Protection, Ekaterininburg, Russia;
(8) Veterinary Faculty, University of Tehran, Iran;
(9) Biological Station of Donana Reserve, CSIC, Seville, Spain;
(10) Netherlands Institute of Ecology NIOO, Wageningen, Netherlands;
(11) Global Change Research Centre AS CR (CzechGlobe), Czech Republic;
(12) Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis (IMAA), CNR, Italy;
(13) Institute of Hydrobiology (IH), Kiev, Ukraine;
(14) University College, Dublin (UCD), Dublin, Ireland;
(15) Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Geneve, Switzerland;
(16) Central Phytosanitary Laboratory, Bucharest, Romania;
(17) Istituto per la Protezione delle Piante, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Bari, Italy;
(18) University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Austria;
(19) Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (KBIN), Brussels, Belgium.

WP3 RECRUITMENT OF INCOMING EXPERIENCED RESEARCHERS

The objective of this WP is to contribute to the improvement of the human capacity of IBER-BAS in wetland studies and to the better integration in ERA via recruitment of experienced. The work of the incoming researchers was planned to be closely related to the ongoing research activities, with the idea to aim at elevating it to higher research level. By this reason, we gave preference to candidates, which have received their qualifications in other research centres, and in some cases to specialists in areas in which we have no expertise. We aim to use this opportunity for strengthening our research in several directions associated with the functioning, management and restoration of wetlands. These are contemporary methods for assessment of the status of bird populations; limiting factors and basic processes in hyperhaline wetlands; modelling of functional interactions in freshwater ecosystems and in shallow coastal marine areas; models and statistical approaches in population and community studies.

Dr Merlijn Jocque

Dr M. Jocque, a citizen of Belgium, with PhD degree from the University of Leuven and working experience as a research biologist in Honduras, worked for WETLANET for 11 months (1.11.2009 – 1.10.2010).

Main topic: Metacommunity and ecosystem dynamics of Lake Srebarna and surrounding wetlands

This project aims to increasing the understanding of metacommunity dynamics of freshwater animals in Srebarna Lake and surrounding wetlands. An intensive sampling of wetlands and light trapping schedule will provide information on the distribution, dispersal dynamics and niche characteristics of active dispersers (Notonectidae, Corixidae and Dytiscidae) to better understand how habitat characteristics, metapopulation dynamics and species specific dispersal characteristics contribute to community structure and metacommunity dynamics.

Other activities included:
(1) Centralization of available data from previous monitoring on the zooplankton, birds, fish, macroinvertebrates and abiotic variables (water level fluctuations, Secchi depth, nutrient loads) in Srebarna Lake.
(2) Collection of macroinvertebrates and crustaceans from Srebarna and surrounding wetlands during three field trips. Samples collected were in situ biotic (macroinvertebrates and zooplankton) and abiotic (environmental factors). To quantify dispersal of selected macroinvertebrate groups, he collected macroinvertebrates of four families by light traps.
(3) Available data from previous years was prepared for analyses.

Dr Pavel Zehtindjiev

The ecologist Dr P. Zehtindjiev joint to us after specialization in molecular ecology at the University of Lund, Sweden. He worked for WETLANET for 28.5 months (16.11.2009 – 31.03.2012) on several mutually connected projects:

Bird migration: A long term study of dynamics in migration of common passerine species migrating through Bulgaria was terminated and published. He also worked on two international research projects in this subject and submitted an application for a new project listed below:

Migratory connectivity and migration pattern of a Palaearctic long-distance migrants (in collaboration with Swiss Ornithological Institute and Research Station Petite Camargue Alsacienne). The project aims at identifying over-wintering ranges in Africa, migratory connectivity between Africa and Europe, and individual migration patterns of birds from different European breeding population of a long-distance migrating songbird.

Migration pattern and wintering range of Spanish sparrows in relation to avian malaria parasite loads: The migratory road of Spanish sparrow is tracked for the first time. The information from the logger includes details of the migratory road of this expanding bird species in Europe. The new field season is planned for additional sample size and final conclusions in this study.

Linking events through the annual cycle: the importance of migratory connectivity and seasonal interactions for the ecology of migratory birds (in collaboration with Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic): The project aims at understanding:
(1) how migratory connectivity differs among species and what consequences these differences have for their population dynamics, and
(2) how carry-over effects influence individuals in subsequent seasons of the annual cycle.
(3) Using geolocator data, scrutinizing the model predictions and additionally, explore a range of scenarios, e.g. how site conditions influence migratory behaviour and thus, which fitness consequences are to be expected if global and climate changes alter these site conditions.

Dr Elka Kraleva

The chemist Dr E. Kraleva joint to us after a specialisation at the University of Palermo, Italy. She worked for WETLANET for 17 months (1.11.2009 – 1.10.2011, with interruptions for being involved in other research projects).

Main topic: Fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in coastal marine areas

During the reporting period, Dr Kraleva worked on the following tasks:
1. Analysis of samples of seawater and sediment. Determination of trace amounts of PAH in environmental samples from Sozopol bay. Application of different methodologies for sample preparation (SPE), comparison and identification of an appropriate method of extraction. Optimization of experimental condition.
2. Determination of trace amounts of PAH in seawater samples from Burgas Port using of new type SPE cartridges of Agilent.
3. Monitoring the impact of environmental factors – pH, salinity, type of matrix.
4. Summarizing the results of the experiment. Preparation of the paper whit title: Determination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in different matrices of the marine environment by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry: analytical methods and analysis.

Dr Georgi Daskalov

Dr G. Daskalov, marine biologists, repatriated after being an employee of CEFAS (U.K.) for 7 years. He worked in the frames of WETLANET for 23 months (1.05.2010-31.03.2012). His task was to contribute to the strengthening of IBER–BAS research capacity and the development of new methodologies to be applied in the institute and its field stations, especially in the Laboratory of Marine Ecology in Sozopol.

His main tasks were:
(1) Develop a food-web model of the western Black Sea shelf using Ecopath with Ecosim approach (EwE);
(2) Perform statistical data analyses of datasets of ecosystem time series representative for the western Black Sea shelf (with a special focus on the bay of Burgas and the dataset from the monitoring carried out in the Laboratory of Marine Ecology in Sozopol.
(3) Contribute to fish stock assessment in the Black Sea and start developing fisheries data collection in Sozopol.
(4) Collaborate with colleagues from IBER – BAS and internationally in order to contribute for the strengthening of the research capacity and achieving research objectives (1 - 3);
(5) Write research papers based on the results of the investigations

Dr. Caterina Casagranda

Dr C. Casagranda, a citizen of Germany, with working experience in France and Tunisia, worked for WETLANET for 16 months (26.11.2010-31.03.2012).

Project title: Trophic relation between macrozoobenthos and waterbirds at the coastal Atanasovsko lagoon (Bulgarian Black Sea coast)

Dr Casagranda was requested by the IBER-BAS to study the trophic relationship between the macrozoobenthos and the waterbirds at Atanasovsko lagoon in order to:
(1) assess the trophic status of the lagoon;
(2) quantify the importance of the lagoon for the waterbirds;
(3) link profitably the bird monitoring with benthos monitoring,
(4) examine whether differences in food availability are driving the density of bird communities;
(5) provide elements to set up a biological monitoring program;
(6) stimulate ecosystem research,
(7) guide design of future projects on Atanasovsko lagoon;
(8) valorise the upgraded field station; provide knowledge to update the management plan (mainly priority activity 3.3.3.2), implement the Natura 2000 directive (mainly Articles 2, 6, 10, 11 and 23), the Water Framework directive and the current Ramsar Strategic Plan (mainly strategies 1.6, 2.4, 2.6, 3.3 and 3.4).

Dr Philippe Gil de Mendonça

Dr Gil de Mendonca, a citizen of Switzerland, joint to us after working experience in Switzerland and Germany. He worked for WETLANET for 13 months (1.03.2011-31.03.2012).

Project title: Comparative studies of rodent-borne, water-borne, and vector-borne zoonotic diseases in wetlands and surrounding areas with focus on the Srebarna Biosphere Nature Reserve.

Five field trips to Srebarna Biosphere Reserve took place between April and October 2011. Wooden live traps were set in 6 transect lines: two lines is dry habitat (woodland), two in intermediate habitat, and two in wet habitat (swamp shore). These transect lines are located on the Southern and Eastern sides of the swamp. Three additional transect lines located on the Northern side of the swamp had to be disused due to problems of accessibility even with a four-wheel-drive jeep. Over 350 captures/recaptures of over 200 individual rodents took place between May and October 2011. The numerically dominant species were Apodemus flavicollis and A. agrarius. Mice were individually marked with uniquely numbered ear-tags and released at the point of capture after inspection for ectoparasites. Where feasible, urine samples were collected for later molecular screening for leptospirosis.

DNA was extracted from rodent tissue samples, from rodent urine samples and from water samples collected in Srebarna Biosphere reserve. DNA was also extracted from dog blood from the Srebarna area. Real-time PCR screening was performed by real-time thermocycler in the Institute of Microbiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The main results obtained are as follows: All rodent samples yielded negative PCR results for pathogenic Rickettsiae. Only five rodent samples from the wettest area of Srebarna Biosphere Reserve tested positive for pathogenic leptospires by real-time PCR. Only one urine sample from the wettest area of Srebarna Biosphere Reserve tested positive for pathogenic leptospires by real-time PCR. All rodent samples yielded negative PCR results for tularemia. Similarly, all water samples yielded negative PCR results for tularemia. All rodent samples yielded negative PCR results for anaplasmosis. The main pathogen of the Srebarna area is currently Babesia canis. This pathogen is a very serious cause of concern to veterinary medicine in the Srebarna area. Babesia canis was not identified from any rodent sample.

Conclusions: Considering the epidemiological network of tularemia transmission and the current situation (research results and local medical records), it is clear that tularemia is no longer present in the Srebarna area. Although leptospirosis is present in the Srebarna area, its prevalence is in no way higher than in the rest of Bulgaria. No specific action is required. The prevalence of zoonotic tick-borne diseases is amazingly low considering the ubiquitous occurrence of ticks in the Srebarna area. Furthermore the identification of one single species of tick (Ixodes ricinus) is also most surprising, particularly as this species is not the best vector of Babesia canis (Dermacentor ticks are usually the main vectors for Babesia canis).

WP4 ACQUISITION, DEVELOPMENT AND UPGRADING OF RESEARCH EQUIPMENT

The aims of the WP4 are:
(1) improvement the technical capacity of the wetland laboratory network of IBER-BAS by acquisition, development and upgrading of research equipment in order to achieve international cutting-edge standards and better integration in ERA;
(2) enhancing the research capacity of IBER-BAS, in terms of equipment, methodologies and information potential, which provide more possibilities of reaching of high level research of a standard comparable with EU Member States.

For reaching the above-mentioned objectives, we developed the following general strategy of selecting and purchasing the most advanced equipment at best price/quality ratio. The emphasis was done on the analytical equipment and the technique for observations (microscopy, ornithological observations).

We undertook the following steps:
(1) For each remote station as well as for the headquarters building, task groups were created to screen the needs for equipment upgrade. As a result, a maximum shopping list based on the needs of the main working groups was created.
(2) Screening the market for the average prices of the equipment needed and developing a pilot budget.
(3) Optimizing the shopping list as to fit the budget.

Purchasing strategies applied:
(1) A public tender was announced for purchasing the most expensive equipment subject to a significant market competition: GC-MS, ICP, Microscopes, Automatic nutrients Analyser, Uv/Vis spectrophotometer, Growth chamber. As a result, a significant prices reduction was achieved. The latter gave us an opportunity to better satisfy the needs for upgrading scientific equipment.
(2) Collecting offers for specific equipment: temporal task groups of 3 researchers were in charge of collecting minimum three competitive offers (laboratory vessel, laboratory accessories).
(3) Direct purchasing, for low cost equipment where direct competition was not possible for reasons such as not having national representatives, not company interest (submersible fluorimeter, micro-oxygen and pH meters, general low cost laboratory equipment).

Remote stations

Laboratory of Marine Ecology, Sozopol

The laboratories of this remote station were upgraded with analytical and optic equipment for strengthening in-situ investigations, sampling collection and analysis capacities, including a new research boat. The following major equipment was purchased: submersible fluorimeter (will be used also for Atanasovsko Lake sample analyses; manufacturer Turner Design, USA); diving equipment (manufacturer Scubapro, Seeman, Sweden); Uv/Vis spectrophotometer Pharo 300 (will be used also for Atanasovsko Lake sample analyses; manufacturer: Merck, Germany); automatic nutrients analyser FIA Star (manufacturer FOSS, Sweden); microoxygen meter (manufacturer Strathkelvin Instruments, UK); research boat (manufacturer Stakloplast, Bulgaria); microscopic equipment – stereomicroscope and laboratory compound microscope, both equipped with photo-cameras (manufacturer Olympus).

Ecological Station at the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve

The main achievements of the WP4 were improving the bird observation (optics) and plankton analyses (laboratory microscopes), data documentation and processing capacities. The following major equipment was purchased: optic equipment for ornithological observations – a fieldscope (straight body) and a stay-on-case fieldscope and accessories (manufacturer Nikon); microscopic equipment – stereomicroscope and laboratory compound microscope, both equipped with photo-cameras (manufacturer Olympus).

Field Station at the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve

The capacity of the remote station was improved in terms of birds observation optics. Due to the increased sample processing capacity of the nearly located Laboratory of Marine Ecology, Sozopol, the analytical equipment of the LME will be used for analyzing local water samples around the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve.

Headquarters laboratories of the IBER-BAS

These include:
(1) Environmental Analytical Laboratory: upgraded with GC-MS and ICP for strengthening the analysis of the most important environmental pollutants.
(2) Newly-created Laboratory Block for Wetland Studies (one wet laboratory, two preparatories, 4 store cells, chemistry store).
(3) Microscopic Laboratory: the new microscope technique enhanced possibilities for modern light microscope observations and image processing.
(4) Upgraded molecular, microbiological, parasitological and genetic laboratories.
(5) Multimedia equipment. These laboratory units now possess the following new major pieces of equipment:

Microscopes (OLYMPUS): Research high class microscope '51: equipped with photo-camera and DIC for real-time observation and CELL software for documentation and image processing. Microscope '41: equipped with photo-camera and specialised software, 3 pieces were purchased (two for the remote stations and one for upgrading the laboratory of parasitology at the headquarters). Stereomicroscope SZ61: 2 pieces, for upgrade of laboratory of hydrobiology and general WETLANET laboratory unit. Stereomicroscope SZ51: equipped with photo-camera, 3 pieces were purchased (one for the general WETLANET laboratory unit and two for the remote stations).

Analytical equipment. GC-MS equipment, for analyses of PAHs, PCBs, pesticides in environmental samples, manufacturer: Thermo Corp, USA. ICP equipment, for analyses of heavy metals and various substances in environmental samples, manufacturer: PerkinElmer, USA.

General laboratory equipment. Growth chamber for growing microalgae and monocultures at controlled conditions, manufacturer: MUVE, Turkey. Laboratory shaker, manufacturer: Sartorius, Germany. Laboratory centrifuge, laboratory of molecular ecology, manufacturer: Eppendorf, Germany. ELPHO equipment, laboratory of molecular ecology, manufacturer: GE Healthcare, UK. Vertical autoclave. Laboratory dry sterilisation, manufacturer: Binder, Germany. Laboratory refrigerators (5 pieces), manufacturers: Liebher and Ariston.

WP5 ORGANISATION OF A CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOPS

The main objectives of this WP are to improve the human capacity of IBER-BAS in wetland studies aimed at better integration in ERA by promoting research collaborations and establishment of multilateral partnership and international dissemination of WETLANET project achievements and scientific via organization and participation of scientific events (workshops, conference, training courses). The work was organised in 4 tasks.

Task 5.1. International Conference 'Wetlands: functioning, management and restoration'.

The International Conference 'Wetlands: functioning, management and restoration', was organised by the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research and the WETLANET Project. It was held on 16-19th October 2011 at Albena Resort, Varna. In total, 76 participants from Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic, Turkey and Greece attended the event. Among them, 16 were PhD students.

Task 5.2. Organization of workshops

The objectives of the task are to increase the transfer of knowledge, the possibilities for sharing the scientific results and potential for network building in priority areas at regional and European level. Four workshops were organised.

Workshop 'Genetic monitoring in wetlands: recent methodological developments'

The workshop was held on 12-16 October 2009 at the headquarters of IBER-BAS. It aimed at promotion of recent methodological developments for genetic monitoring in wetlands and at enhancing the research collaborations and multilateral partnership that can result in the formation of a consortium (consortia) carrying out high-level wetland research of socio-economic impact in accordance with the priorities of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The workshop was targeted to the scientific community, national and local authorities and organisations, interested in genetic monitoring in wetlands.

The main topics of the workshop were as follows:
(1) Problems of wetlands as a result of man's impact and pressures.
(2) Anthropogenic impact on biota and man in wetlands – classical and modern genetic methods for screening, monitoring and biodiversity assessment.
(3) Strategies for mitigation of man's impact on wetlands.

Workshop 'QR modelling for wetlands management and education. Potentials and Prospective'

The workshop was held on 14-19 February 2010 at the headquarters of IBER-BAS in Sofia. It aimed to promote recent methodological developments in QR modelling in the wetlands management and education and to enhance research collaborations and establishment of multilateral partnerships. About 30 persons (participants and invited guests) attended the event, including governmental officials and experts in Wetland Management and Conservation, Office of Biodiversity Protection (Ministry of Environment and Waters of the Republic of Bulgaria).

The main topics of the workshop were as follows:
(1) Concepts of wetlands as ecological systems: unity and diversity;
(2) Specific problems and needs: managing protected areas and/or water bodies;
(3) Human pressures and impacts on wetlands: concept mapping and causal modelling;
(4) QR modelling of wetlands: potentials and prospective;
(5) Research needs and strategies for further collaboration.

Workshop 'Wetlands along the Lower Danube: Functioning, Modelling, Conservation and Management'

The workshop was held on 17-20 May 2011 at the headquarters of the IBER-BAS in Sofia. The event aimed to present the recent methodological developments and current stage of knowledge about the biodiversity and ecosystems of the wetlands along the Lower Danube. In total, 34 persons (participants and invited guests) attended the event. Bulgarian participants included 20 researchers and students of IBER-BAS, 1 from the University of Sofia, 1 from the Ministry of Environment and Waters of the Republic of Bulgaria and 6 representatives of non-governmental organisations. Foreign participants included: Dr. Thomas Hein (University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), Dr. M. Mihaljevic and Dr. E. Merdic (University of J.J. Strossmayer in Osijek, Croatia), Dr. A. Liashenko (Institute of Hydrobiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), Dr H. Lethier (Switzerland) and Dr L. Poiras (Institute of Zoology, Academy of Sciences of Moldova).

The main topics of the workshop were as follows:
(1) Aquatic communities: structure and trophic interactions;
(2) Biodiversity and habitat dynamics;
(3) Functioning of wetlands within Lower Danube river system;
(4) Process and interrelations modelling;
(5) Connectivity, flooding dynamics, typology and ecological status of wetlands;
(6) Governance and restoration of wetlands along the Lower Danube;
(7) Monitoring and conservation of biodiversity;
(8) Wise use of wetlands' biological resources and services, combat mosquito plague.

Workshop 'Benthos ecosystems monitoring in the marine coastal zone'

The workshop took place at the field station Laboratory of Marine Ecology, Sozopol, on 4-7 September 2011. The workshop aimed at exchanging recent methodological achievements for monitoring of benthic habitats in the marine coastal zones and enhancing the research collaborations and long-term partnerships. The workshop was targeted to the scientific community, national and local authorities and organisations, interested in coastal zones structure and function short and long-term monitoring.

The main topics covered were:
(1) Indices for coastal ecosystems status determination using monitoring of the benthic habitats: application of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Habitat directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
(2) Global and local factors determining the ecosystem structure and function in the coastal zone- Impact of anthropogenic eutrophication.
(3) Brown, green and red macroalgal communities structure as indicators for the ecological status of the coastal zone.
(4) Seagrass meadows of Zostera sp. and sediments biogeochemistry.
(5) Mapping strategies of benthic habitats.
(6) GIS applications in the monitoring and mapping of benthic communities.
(7) Mathematical and statistical processing of the monitoring data.

Thirteen oral presentations were given in two sessions and extensive discussions on the topics of interest took place during presentations. Three main groups of interests and round tables were formed and organised as following:
(1) Methods and approaches for assessment the status of brown, green and re algae based on ecological indices.
(2) Seaweeds meadows and sediment biogeochemistry in Sozopol Bay.
(3) Application of GIS and mat modelling in coastal zone monitoring.

Task 5.3. Training courses

This task aims at the organisation of training courses in topics, which we recognise as requiring urgent development of our staff expertise. They are mostly targeting young researchers; however, we expect that they will increase the general scientific level of the studies in our entity and will further facilitate the establishment of research collaboration. For each course, we have planned the participation of 1-3 experienced invited lecturers, which are leading researchers with international reputation. The number of participants is rather restricted (av. 15-20 persons), which will allow better interactions and efficient training.

Training Course 'Molecular and biochemical markers in wetlands eco-toxicology'

The training course 'Molecular and biochemical markers in wetlands eco-toxicology' was organised on 14-19 June 2010 at the headquarters' laboratories of IBER-BAS.

The event aims to improve the skills of the young scientists in the classical and modern molecular and biochemical methods applied in eco-toxicological studies of wetlands. Another task of the course was to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and to establish new scientific contacts envisaging further research collaborations via joint research projects.

The main topics of the training course were as follows:
(1) basic classical methods applied in eco-toxicology;
(2) molecular and biochemical markers used for gene-toxic screening, monitoring and biodiversity assessment.

Training Course: 'Creation and management of databases'

The training course 'Creation and management of databases in wetland research and monitoring' took place on 18-20 May 2010 at the IBER-BAS. The main purpose of the training course was to contribute to the promotion of new strategies and technologies in designing and management of advanced information systems in wetland studies and to develop practical skills among participants in implementation and use of different types of biological databases. Several Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) initiatives and projects focus on the organization, integration and sustainability of databases related to biodiversity and ecology. The training course was targeted to the scientific research community in the CLGE and its field stations. It was attended by18 participants – PhD students, masters, researchers – more than 70% of participants work at IBER-BAS.

Main topics of the training course included:
(1) Scratchpads and AVIMAL information system - general concepts and applications;
(2) Data publication, data sharing and XML mark up;
(3) Approaches and methods in creation of databases;
(4) Reference databases;
(5) ALTER-Net infobase and semantic issues of ecological databases and solution;
(6) PESI 7FP project – concepts and applications.

Training Course 'Statistics and modelling of wetlands'

This training course was held on 31.05-4.06.2010 at the headquarters of IBER–BAS. The main objective of the course was to develop skills to understand the theoretical background of the methods and the practical use of approaches in the analysis of multivariate ecological data based on the PRIMER 6 software. In total 20 researchers and PhD students from IBER-BAS and MSc students from the University of Sofia attended the course. The main lecturer was Professor Victor Manuel dos Santos Quintino from Portugal, representing the PRIMER-E Ltd.

Training Course 'GIS in wetland conservation and management'

This training course took place on 2-5 May 2011 at the headquarters of IBER-BAS. The main purpose of the training course was to promote and demonstrate the new methodological approaches in remote sensing and GIS analysis of wetlands and their biodiversity, and to develop practical skills in participants for the implementation of the demonstrated techniques. The training course was targeted to the scientific research community in the IBER-BAS and its field stations, but participants from other institutions were also included. The course was attended by 33 participants – PhD and MSc students and researchers from the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, National Museum of Natural History Museum, Botanical Garden in Sofia and Sofia University 'St. K. Ohridski'.

The program included the following topics:
(1) Introduction and main concepts in GIS: General discussion on GIS application and problems related to the practical exercises given in advance for self training.
(2) Applications of the remote sensing (satellite images) in biological studies;
(3) Open access GIS software and GIS modeling in biogeography and conservation ecology;
(4) Methodological approaches in spatial surveys management and conservation of territories;
(5) Formatting and integration of the biological information for statistical analysis (StatSoft).

Training Course 'Integrated management and dynamics of wetland ecosystems'

This training course was organized on 21.03.2012 at the headquarters of IBER-BAS. The main purpose of the training course was to contribute to the promotion of new strategies and methodologies in wetlands management, protection and restoration. The event was targeted to the scientific research community in the IBER-BAS and its field stations, young researchers from relevant institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and universities. It was attended by 23 participants – 15 researchers and students of IBER-BAS, 5 of the University of Sofia, 2 of non-governmental organizations.

The program included the following topics:
(1) Wetlands management and their services: ecological aspects;
(2) Integrated management and dynamics of wetland ecosystems;
(3) Wetlands management: national legislation and international regulations;
(4) GIS application as a methodology tool for wetlands management.

Training course 'Basic Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics'

This training course took place in the period 12-16 March, 2012 in the headquarters of IBER-BAS. In the working program of the project, its title is formulated as 'Molecular identification and phylogeny of aquatic eukaryotes'. However, during the last years and in the frames of other projects, two courses of molecular taxonomy were carried out. In recognition of the higher level achieved by the potential participants, the WETLANET management team decided to organize a course focusing mostly on the bioinformatics aspects of the molecular phylogeny studies. The main objective of the course was to provide researchers with basic knowledge and practical skills to carry out evolutionary analysis on sequence data.

Task 5.4. Participation in international scientific meetings and/or short-term training events

Participation of the scientific staff of the IBER-BAS in international scientific meetings and short-term training events aims an improvement of the human capacity of the institute in wetland studies. The main goals of this task are as follows:
(1) New opportunities for the research staff to promote the results of their investigations, which will improve the international visibility of the CLGE-BAS and its integration in ERA.
(2) Establishing new research collaborations and multilateral partnerships.
(3) Promoting the WETLANET project achievements.

WP6 DISSEMINATION AND PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES

The main objectives of this WP is to facilitate communications between IBER-BAS and a wide scientific and non-scientific community aimed to better integration in ERA and to disseminate achievements of wetland science in the society in view of increasing visibility of the research activities of IBER-BAS and improving their responses to socio-economic needs of the country.

Task 6.1. Launching and maintaining of website of the project

Te project website is the main tool for announcement and dissemination of the project activities and achievements. It had been regularly updated and will be maintained for further 5 years after the project termination in order to reflect the follow-up of the project.

Task 6.2. Preparation of books for dissemination of research results

Book 'Ecosystems of the Biosphere Reserve Srebarna Lake'

The book is addressed to wide range of scientists, experts, students, NGOs, etc. devoted to the biodiversity studies, and nature protection and conservation, especially of waterfowl and other bird species. More than a decade after publishing of the 1st Management Plan of the Nature Reserve Srebarna Lake, the various chapters come to light the general trends in a dynamics of the basic communities and ecosystems of this protected area. Srebarna Lake was one of the first Bulgarian nature territories declared as a protected site in 1942, and in 1948 - as a Nature Reserve.

Book 'Mesta River: Biological Quality Elements and Ecological State'

The book is devoted to the basic features of the Mesta River – a transboundary river, shared by Bulgaria (upper stretch) and Greece (lower stretch and Delta). The several chapters explain the basic hydrographical features of the course in the Bulgarian territory and its biological quality elements as accepted by the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC for ecological classification of the water bodies in EU: phytobenthos (epilythic algae), macrophytes (vascular plants), macrozoobenthos (bottom invertebrates) and fish.

Task 6.3. Preparation of popular materials for dissemination

The bilingual leaflet 'WETLANET Project' (first edition 2009) contains information about the project, i.e. details about the funding scheme, project objectives and contact details. The URL for download is http://www.wetlanet.org/documents/leaflet.

The bilingual brochure 'Ramsar sites in Bulgaria' was printed in November 2010. The brochure contains 16 pages – 4 cover pages and 12 pages of information. These are one page of information on the Ramsar Convention and general information on Bulgarian Ramsar sites, 10 pages each devoted to one Ramsar site in Bulgaria and one page presenting a brief text on the WETLANET project.

Another popular material was published in the magazine International Innovation (see http://www.wetlanet.org/documents/international_innovation online).

The multimedia product entitled 'WETLANET protects the world's wetlands' was launched online in March 2012 as a part of the SEED Research Library produced by the Insight Publishers. The online platform contains information about the importance of the wetlands, their protection and sustainable management. The special attention is paid on the Convention on Wetlands with International Importance (Ramsar Convention) and the Bulgarian wetlands included in it. The platform contains also information about the achievements of the WETLANET project as a contribution to both the enhanced quality of the wetlands research in the country, and the public awareness about management, restoration and protection of wetland ecosystems. URL for SEED Library with the multimedia product (see http://www.seedresearchlibrary.com/player/Player.php online).

Task 6.4. Organisation of open days

Organisation of open days was envisaged in order to stimulate the socio-economic integration of IBER-BAS. The aim of events was to increase the public awareness in the country regarding the importance of wetlands and their conservation.

Open Weeks of the Ecological Station at the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve, 2009-2010

The Atanasovsko Lake Reserve is one of the Ramsar sites of Bulgaria and the most important place for observation of the autumn migration of soaring birds. The lake is visited annually by researchers, birdwatchers and naturalists from Bulgaria and abroad. Since mid 90's, the Ecological Station at the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve has been hosting the annual Nature Protection Brigade organised by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. The Open Weeks were organised during the brigade (the last third of August). Our visitors were 53 (2009) and 48 (2010) volunteering students and other naturalists interested in wetland biodiversity. The main activities performed at the ecological station during the open weeks are observations on bird migrations, maintenance of dikes and platforms used by breeding bird populations and a popularising scientific session presenting information on the lake biodiversity and research projects carried out at the station.

Open Day '2nd February - International Day of Wetlands'

The Open Day was organised on 2nd February 2010, International Day of Wetlands. Guests of the event were the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Dr Boyko Borisov, the Minister of Education, Youth and Science Dr Sergey Ignatov, the Vice Minister of the Environment and Waters Ms Ivelina Vasileva and the President of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Professor Nikola Sabotinov. The programme of the event included the opening ceremony for the new laboratory unit for studying wetlands in our headquarters in Sofia, with participation of the official guests, presentation about the objectives and the current achievements of WETLANET project, poster exhibition, visit and demonstration of the upgraded laboratories at the headquarters.

Open Day of the Laboratory of Marine Ecology, Sozopol

The Laboratory of Marine Ecology (LME) is based in the town of Sozopol just on the coast of the Black Sea. The main activities of the laboratory include the elaboration of prognoses for the state of the marine coastal ecosystems in the Burgas Bay on the basis of long-term monitoring programme, investigations on their structure and functioning and the impact of the oil pollution on them. The Open Day of the Laboratory of Marine Ecology was organised on 3.09.2010. The aim of the event was to promote the infrastructure activities of the WETLANET Project at the LME and its recent scientific achievements.

Open Day at the Ecological Station of the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve

The Open Day of the Ecological Station at the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve was organised on 20.10.2011 as a post-conference event of the WETLANET International Conference (17-19 October 2011). The aim of the event was to promote the infrastructure activities of the WETLANET Project and the achievements of the current research projects carrying out at the Station. The Open Day targeted both scientific and broader non-scientific community. Invited guests of the event were the Mayor of the village of Srebarna, representatives of the local authorities, NGO's, students and residents of the village of Srebarna, media reporters. Colleagues from the IBER-BAS as well as guests from the Advisory board of the WETLANET International Conference also attended the event. The Official Opening took place at the Municipality building of the village of Srebarna with a brief welcoming by the person in charge for the ES, Dr L. Pehlivanov.

Second open day of the headquarters of IBER-BAS

The last WETLANET Open Day was held at the headquarters of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IBER-BAS) on 30.03.2012. The aim of the event was to present an overview of the WETLANET project achievements.

Task 6.6. Exhibition

The public exhibition was organised as a part of the WP6 public activities at the final phase of the project. It was entitled 'Bulgarian Ramsar Sites'. As in January 2012, our country is represented in the list of the internationally-important wetlands with 11 sites. The exhibition presented numerous photos from each site and synthesised information about their biodiversity. As a public event the exhibition targeted mainly educational organisations (schools, college sector, and universities), local authorities, non-governmental organisations and wide range of citizens interested in the nature heritage.

Task 6.6. Support of publications in international journals with page fees and open-access fees

Additional support for promotion of results achieved by the research members of IBER-BAS had been envisaged by funding publications in international journals with page fees and open-access fees. Four publications were supported. They are presented in the associated publication list.

Potential Impact:
The main expected outcomes of the project concern the increasing integration of IBER-BAS in ERA as partner or initiator of collaboration projects and more adequate scientific service to the Bulgarian (and European) society in order to meet its needs of knowledge of wetland functioning, management approaches and restoration activities.

Upgrading of the RTD capacity and capability of IBER-BAS

The completion of the Work Plan was entirely directed to upgrading the capacity (both human and technical) of IBER-BAS by the development of its WETLANET laboratories.

The human potential was increased in terms of 37 staff outgoing training visits ('transfer of know-how and experience') in leading laboratories abroad, which were carried out in the frames of the project (planned 16 visits). Substantial contribution was added by the 27 incoming visits of experienced researchers (19 envisaged visits) that allowed training on spot, with using our renewed equipment and laboratory infrastructure. The recruitment of experienced researchers (six persons) allowed increasing the scientific competence of six research units. The training events (6) and workshops (4) had positive effect on the entire research staff; furthermore, they also contributed for development of integrative connections within the country because researchers and students from Bulgarian universities (University of Sofia, New Bulgarian University, University of Forestry) and other units of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences attended the events. Other actions addressing the improvement of the human potential were the outgoing travels for participation in scientific events: 24 researchers from IBER-BAS participated in 17 conferences, symposia and other scientific meetings in Macedonia, Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Austria, UK, Italy, USA, Ukraine, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria. Five PhD students and four researchers attended seven training courses (18 participations in workshops and conferences and four participations in training courses were planned).

Better integration of IBER-BAS in ERA

The increased transfer of know-how and expertise (in total, 97 mobility actions), especially the twinning visits with research groups and experienced researchers (64), participation in conferences, workshops and training events (33) contributed to the development of strategic partnerships. The number of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)-funded projects of IBER-BAS increased from 3 to 6. Two applications for joint projects were submitted by WETLANET team members to the 2011-2012 joint BIODIVERSA2 ERANET call, including one initiated by an IBER-BAS researcher. We became members of LTER network trough the research stations upgraded in the frames of WETLANET and by supporting the associated organisational efforts trough the management working package of the project. Thus, our expectations for better integration of IBER-BAS in ERA are substantially achieved by the project implementation, even shortly about the official termination of the project.

Contribution to regional and national capacity building

Due to its geographical position, Bulgaria is part of several distinctive regional entities: Balkans, Black-Sea Zone, Danube Basin, Mediterranean Region. By this reason, the IBER-BAS and its WETLANET laboratories have the chance to become one of the main centres of wetland science, both basic and applied, which is unique for the Balkan Region. Being open for collaborations, the upgraded laboratory network can become the core of numerous and impact future collaborations. As seen from the reports of the workshops and the conference as well as from our exchange programme, our events and laboratories were visited, inter alia, by colleagues from countries in the region – Romania, Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Ukraine, Turkey, Moldova and others. The appropriate basis for research collaborations is the need of joint research efforts concerning the sustainable management of the wetlands along the Lower Danube; the restoration, management and conservation of the coastal wetland along the Black Sea coast (lagoons, estuaries, etc.), including the elaboration of the principles for announcing protected marine area; functioning and assessment of the ecological status of shallow coastal zone of the Black Sea.

Main dissemination activities and exploitation of results

The dissemination of research excellence and knowledge of wetland science in wider scientific and non-scientific environment was one of the main objectives of the WETLANET project. Exploitation and dissemination activities in our project were divided in two parts depending on the target groups.

The first part of activities aimed spreading excellence through dissemination of research achievements and scientific information in research community at national and international scale. The main tool was the organisation of an international Conference and four Workshops. The programmes of the events included scientific discussions and presentations on problems of strategic importance at the national and regional levels in the field of wetlands' ecosystem research.

List of Websites:

http://www.wetlanet.org

Related information

Contact

Boyko GEORGIEV, (Head of Department)
Tel.: +35-928-717195
Fax: +35-928-705498
E-mail
Record Number: 57198 / Last updated on: 2013-07-01
Information source: SESAM
Collaboration sought: N/A