Источне Херцеговине,
Босна и Херцеговина.
Источна Херцеговина, Босна и Херцеговина.
Eastern Hercegovina, Bosnia & Hercegovina.
Kelet- Hercegovina, Bosznia - Hercegovina.

Webpage 01. of 4. for Project Information
This Webpage last revised on 23 June 2016.
More information to follow.

Proteus Project Co-ordinator Groups :
Speleološko društvo "Zelena Brda" 
(Trebinje, RS-BiH)
The Devon Karst Research Society (Plymouth, UK.)

Special Technical Support by the Project's
Hungarian Cave Diving & Technical Support Group,
"Caudata Hungarian Cave Research Group"
(Budapest, Hungary)
(consisting of speleologists from several
domestic Hungarian groups)

Speleobiology : Hypogean Species Identification :
bio-constructional drawings.


Troglocaris (Speleocaris) pretneri  (Matjašič, 1956).

Troglocaris anophthalmus anophthalmus

Protecting the
of Eastern Hercegovina,
Bosnia & Hercegovina.
Cave ecosystems and other subterranean habitats with their often strange inhabitants have long been objects of 
fascination, curiosity, and debate. The hypogean (or underground) biodiversity of the Classical Dinaric Karst 
in Eastern Hercegovina is very rich in terms of quality (species types) and population numbers.
Although the level of endemism of species in the Balkans is universally accepted as being exceptionally high,
the richness of this hypogean diversity in Eastern Hercegovina has never been comprehensively documented
before now, although many have alluded to it in the literature. For many reasons, it is not an easy place to undertake
such studies and as a consequence, there is a low level of awareness by the international community to the prevailing 
environmental situation in Eastern Hercegovina and the worsening effects of human activities on this unique natural heritage.

The Joint International "Proteus Project" :
The "focal endangered species" of this current long-term hypogean species and habitat-conservation project is the 
amphibious cave salamander Proteus anguinus, more commonly known in the Balkans as.čovječija ribica.- or the "human fish".
It has this status within the project because it is the most well-known of the rare endemic species and because it has acquired universal
public fascination within the Balkans as being something of a myth or legend and a complete mystery.
We are using this public perception to our advantage, not only in promoting the project but in acquiring the co-operation of everyone to help us achieve the objectives.

The main strategy of the project is that of the protection of the species through protection of the natural karst habitat.
If the natural habitat of this mysterious hypogean species can be protected and conserved or managed, then the future of all the other associated hypogean faunal
species can also be assured.
Let us now briefly consider the scientific discipline that deals with the study of hypogean species.

Спелеобиологија  Speleobiologija
This is the multi-disciplinary science or study of all the life-forms which live underground in caves or use the cave habitat for
part of their life-cycle and includes the two main sub-disciplines of speleo-zoology and speleo-botany.
The word "speleobiology" has become corrupted in recent years by those who do not understand the English
Language and who have changed it into "biospeleology", which has an incomprehensible meaning!
Speleobiology also addresses questions of how such organisms have evolved, the relative roles of natural 
selection and genetic drift and has engaged the endeavours of speleobiologists for decades.
Indeed, these studies continue to inform the more general question of adaptation and evolution.
However, interest in subterranean biology is not limited to questions of evolutionary biology.
Both the distribution and the apparent ancient age of many subterranean species continue to be of
significant interest to biogeographers.
Speleobiology and the "Proteus Project"
However, for the more practical reasons of karst habitat protection and 
conservation-management for the "Proteus Project" operating across all of the
geographical area of Eastern Hercegovina, we are more concerned with the
identification of individual species, together with their population numbers and geographical
distribution. We are also dealing with the identification of habitat locations and in assessing the 
spatial extent and physical disposition of ecosystems together with their quality and viability as habitats.

Hypogean Ecosystems in Karstic Limestones :
In their simplest form, they can be described as any shaft, cave or cave system, fissure or fissure
system, with or without water on a temporary or permanent basis.
Although an individual cave or part of a cave may be described as being an habitat, cave systems themselves
  are usually part of a greater hypogean ecosystem, only part of which can ever be accessed for investigation.
It is with assessing the spatial extent of hypogean ecosystems that we have the greatest challenges. The success
or otherwise of protecting the hypogean species for the future, as well as bringing many of them back from the edge of 
extinction, rests solely on our ability to determine the physical extent and quality problems of these ecosystems, together
with identifying the actual and potential anthropogenic threats to their ecological integrity.
From our own extensive experience in Eastern Hercegovina, we can say that many of these hypogean ecosystems resemble underwater zoos,
being richly populated with a diverse range of endemic faunal species. In other locations which used to be likewise populated, they are now barren
due to the incidental activities of the Human Race.

The Hypogean Species :
The Society has no webpage(s) specifically dedicated either to the science of speleobiology per se or to its specific application within the long-term "Proteus Project",
even though our science programmes in Eastern Hercegovina and the wider Trebišnjica River Basin are intrinsically linked with this science !
The dedicated "Proteus Project" Webpages do provide an overview of the Project itself but do not attempt to describe any of the associated endangered hypogean fauna that co-exist
with Proteus anguinus in the same ecosystems.
Only on this specific Webpage, have we attempted to partly overcome this omission, which has been causing frustration to many of the European visitors to our Website.
Although we have now provided illustrations of some of the hypogean species associated with Proteus anguinus, we cannot reveal details of their specific habitat locations or about the
associated karst conduit-aquifer ecosystems.
The images are provided below and some additional bio-constructional drawings of the species are provided on the left-side of this Webpage.
The "Proteus Project" Webpages can now be accessed via the Link at the bottom of this Webpage. An expanding speleo-biological Glossary is also provided in Section 5.
Background Image by the "Proteus Project's" Hungarian Cave Diving & Technical Support Team, "Caudata Hungarian Cave Research", 12 August 2006.

Istočne Hercegovine,
Bosna i Hercegovina.

Источне Херцеговине,
Босна и Херцеговина.

Speleobiology :..Hypogean Species Identification.
Images of the Hypogean Faunal Species recorded in Eastern Hercegovina and the wider Trebišnjica River Basin and which are threatened by human activities.

Identification of very similar hypogean species such as the decapod crustaceans has proved particularly daunting.
The Society is compiling a ready-reference catalogue to assist Project Research Assistants with this task.
A qualitative and quantitative inventory of the resident species in a karst conduit-aquifer ecosystem often relies on accurate visual differentiation between related sub-species,
supported by good video and photographic-stills records.

Saving the Endemic Species
Спасавање ендемске врсте
Spasavanje endemske vrste

Lithobius matulicii (Verhoeff,.1899)

Marifugia cavatica (Absolon & Hrabé,.1930)

Niphargus balkanicus (Absolon,.1927).

Niphargus croaticus (Jurinac,.1887)

Monolistra (Pseudomonolistra) hercegoviniensis

Typhloglomeris caeca (Verhoeff,.1898)

Antroherpon apfelbecki (J Muller,.1910)

Hadesia vasiceki (J. Muller,.1911)

.Typhlogammerus mrazeki (Schaeferna,.1906)

Dolichopoda araneiformis (Burmeister,.1838)

Zospeum amoenum (Frauenfeld,.1856)

Spelaeoconcha paganettii (Sturany,.1901)
[after Bole.]

(Below - left)  Lithobius matulicii (Verhoeff,.1899) - (Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 12 Aug. 2006)
This species has the local common name of "Zmijin Cesalj" or "Dragon's Comb".
(Below - middle)  Troglophilus cavicola (Kollar,.1833) - (Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 07 Sept. 2008)
The Cave Cricket, also known as the "Camel Cricket" because of its humped back. (This could possibly be Dolichopoda azami (Saulcy).
(Below - right)  (Identification not confirmed) - (Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 07 Nov. 2005)
A cave beetle, possibly Neotrechus sp.

1b. TERRESTRIAL SPECIES (Facultative) :
This range of species are not so threatened as those of the aquatic range of species or amphibians. They are, none-the-less, exposed to threats caused by human activities. Such threats are often presented 
as (i) contamination of the terrestrial environment (waste carbide dumps, discarded dry batteries) resulting in the chemical poisoning of the environment and (ii) by the decimation of other species in the food-chain.
(Below - left)  Apfelbeckia lendenfeldii (Verhoeff,1896)- (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 06 Aug. 2002)
To ward off predators, it emits an ill-smelling fluid from openings along the body. We have found this large millipede in many caves, either at positions far inside the cave or within the entrance zone.
This is an herbivorous species.
(Below - right)  Trogulus torosus (Simon,1885)- (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 17 Sept. 2013)
This "harvestman" is a carnivorous species, living mostly on terrestrial snails.  If disturbed, we have noticed that it behaves as if it is dead, not responding to any provocation to move on!

The only European cave amphibian is the famous salamander Proteus anguinus anguinus (Laur 1768), which is endemic to a small area of the Dinaric Karst. From great experience, we would describe its current 
status as being critically endangered. There are so very few hypogean ecosystems now remaining across its geographical range in the Dinaric, which can support this amazing animal. 
Pollution and massive hydrographic changes have reduced the number of viable hypogean ecosystems. In respect of the Dinaric Karst, the problems with the present method that various organizations around the 
world use to determine the status of many hypogean species (vulnerable, endangered, threatened. etc.) is that very little actual field evidence is available upon which to base their assumptions and also that they tend 
not to use a system which includes the factoring-in of data which correlates hypogean habitat locations with their parent hypogeanecosystems.
Proteus anguinus anguinus is an amphibian. Although more suited to an hypogean aquatic lifestyle, it can and often does venture out of its preferred aquatic habitat into the adjacent hypogean terrestrial 
domain, when this is both necessary and physically possible for it to do so.

3a. AQUATIC SPECIES (Obligate) :
The images below indicate but a small selection of the species which are under greatest threat, due mainly to either the total destruction of the natural karst hydrographic regime or its long-term, persistent 
chemical contamination by industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.
The images also indicate examples of the different types of habitat (niche habitats) within the hypogean karst conduit-aquifer ecosystem, which ideally support each of the species.
In this latter context, we ask you, not only to open your eyes wide and see what is illustrated, but to understand what you are seeing. Each image is giving very much information in addition to illustrating the main subject.
The continual entry of organic pollutants derived from personal care products, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals via wastewaters into rivers and streams is a cause for concern. Little is known about the long-term,
potentially toxic effects of these increasingly complex mixtures of pollutants.
Crustaceans are especially sensitive to the presence of organo-phosphorus insecticides and many pesticides such as Cypermethrin (a pyrethroid pesticide) and Chlorpyrifos.(an organo-phosphorus pesticide)
and the herbicides Isoproturon and Simazine, commonly used in agricultural activities, can also decimate populations if contamination occurs over long periods of time.
Although cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg) can arise from natural sources, major human-induced sources come from the combustion of fossil fuels, particularly from power plants.
The case in hand which affects most of BiH-Eastern Hercegovina is that of the extraction and processing of low-quality lignite coal in Gatačko Polje and its subsequent use as a fuel in the Gacko-1 Thermo-electric 
Power Facility. 

Some of the primary indicators which we are using for the presence of long-to-medium-term poisonous contamination is that of the absence of Proteus anguinus in those hypogean aquatic habitats where it was once a
registered species, together with the presence / absence of cave snail species both in species diversity and population numbers.

(Below - left)  Marifugia cavatica (Absolon & Hrabé,.1930) - (Photo :  Dianovszki Tibor, 14 Aug. 2005)
The only known Polychaete hypogean stygobiotic freshwater tubeworm of the Family Serpulidae, (whose surface equivalent is the marine Keel worm Pomatoceros triqueter, also known as Serpula triquetra).
Usually seen in great colonies embedded on the roofs and walls of epi-phreatic passages; we have regularly encountered lone specimens scattered around various subterranean ecosystems. 
(Below - right)  Congeria kusceri (Bole) within a matrix of Marifugia cavatica (Absolon & Hrabé,.1930) - (Photo :  Hungarian Team 09 Aug. 2006)
Congeria kusceri (Bole) is a troglodytic 'living fossil' the only known stygobiotic bivalve mollusc or clam - from a genus thought to have been extinct since the Miocene, but alive and well in Eastern Hercegovina.
Maintenance of genetic variability in C. kusceri may result from long-term population size stability.
This underground species apparently was buffered from the climatic changes and resultant population bottlenecks that affected its surface-dwelling relatives during the Pliocene and Pleistocene Ice Ages.

A tubeworm inhabits a self-made tube. They live in an encasing tube made of substances from specialized cells. This tube substance is often based on calcium carbonate, complex mixtures of proteins and polysaccharides. 
Sediments like fine sand grains or remains of dead shells stick to it and help strengthen the structure. 
The tubeworms do not leave their tubes willingly. The tube-building worms are gathered in an informal functional group called a Sedentaria.
(Below - left)  Troglocaris anophthalmus anophthalmus. (Kollar,.1848) - (Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 05 Aug. 2007)
A stygobiotic decapod crustacean.
(Below - right)  Troglocaris (Speleocaris) pretneri.(Matjašič,.1956) - (Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 09 Sept. 2008)
An extremely rare stygobiotic decapod crustacean.

(Below - left)  Niphargus balkanicus (Absolon,.1927) -.(Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 09 Sept. 2008)
Another stygobiotic amphipod, usually seen browsing the cave sediment and wall surfaces for food, as evidenced here in the photograph.
They have a peculiar swimming gait, travelling upside-down in motion, before flipping over when coming to rest on a surface.
(Below - right)  Niphargus balkanicus (Absolon,.1927) with.Troglocaris anophthalmus anophthalmus.(Kollar,.1848) -.(Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 05 Aug. 2007)
A comparatively small mixed-species shoal of stygobiotic crustaceans browsing for food on a sand and gravel bank in a typical viable hypogean aquatic ecosystem in Eastern Hercegovina.

(Below - left)  Troglocaris anophthalmus anophthalmus.(Kollar,.1848).-.(Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 09 Aug. 2008)
.... with many Cave Snails.
(Below - right)  Monolistra hercegoviniensis (Absolon,.1916)-.(Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 04 Aug. 2007)
A stygobiotic isopod, endemic to Hercegovina, here seen browsing amongst an area of fine to coarse mud and vegetative organic debris, the latter material being the darker areas in the cave sediment.

(Below) Metohia carinata.(Absolon,1927).-.(Photo :  Lerner Balázs, 09 Sep. 2013)

Cave snails present us with another particularly intractable problem within the "Proteus Project". We are in desperate need of a speleo-malacologist to help us identify the very diverse range of species that 
we are finding. This is a very specialist area of speleobiology and although we are making some progress with species identification, we need to move much faster on this critical area of our work.
Cave snails are threatened by contamination from the use of pesticides and molluscicides used in areas on the karst surface which are increasingly being cultivated as vineyards.
Cave snails are an essential part of any healthy hypogean aquatic ecosystem, where they provide easily available food, which is rich in nutrients for consumption by higher aquatic forms such as crustaceans 
and for Proteus anguinus. We illustrate a few examples below, where the integral scale-grid is always shown in miliimetres. 
(Below - from left to right)  (i) Saxurinator brandti (Schütt, 1968), with some damage to the mouth of the aperture; (ii) Saxurinator brandti (Schütt, 1968);

3b. AQUATIC SPECIES (Facultative) :
(in preparation)

Ugroženih Podzemnih
Istočne Hercegovine,
Bosna i Hercegovina.

The Trebinje Proteus Observatorium and Proteus Rescue Centre. [for phase 3 of the "Proteus Project" (2021-2030)]

Having taken the decision in 2008 to help facilitate the speleobiological research of Eastern Hercegovina actually in Eastern Hercegovina, we selected two very suitable candidate-locations where this Facility could actually be located.
In 2013, we began the lengthy development process of the Trebinje Proteus Observatorium at one of the candidate locations in order that it would be fully operational by the beginning of Phase 3 of the "Proteus Project" in 2021.
The set-up of this technically-challenging installation must comply with the strict ethical principles of the "Proteus Project".  This would be the first NATURAL Proteus observatory, not only in Bosnia & Hercegovina, but in the world.
The Trebinje Proteus Observatorium will be a primary conduit for public education and enlightenment about the endangered hypogean species and the work of the "Proteus Project" to protect the unique natural heritage of Eastern
Hercegovina and the wider Trebišnjica River Basin.

Further up-to-date information can be obtained from our dedicated Webpage Trebinje Proteus Observatorium.

Источне Херцеговине,
Босна и Херцеговина.
Link forward to >>..."Proteus Project" Webpage 1.