Living underground

Created Nov. 30, 2023, 9:41 a.m.
Updated Dec. 1, 2023, 1:08 p.m.

The Living Underground (Slovene: Živo podzemlje) campaign invites individuals and the public to report sightings of subterranean animals and/or other animals in subterranean habitats (caves, springs, etc.) via the website zivo.podzemlje.si. This activity was initiated by the Subterranean Biology Lab, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, as part of the LIFE NarcIS – NAtuRe Conservation Information System project (LIFE19 GIE/SI/000161) but will continue even after this project is completed. Our aim is to improve public knowledge about the distribution of subterranean organisms that are often ignored due to their secretive way of life, but which individuals (especially active cavers) may encounter. Knowledge of distribution is not only important for a better understanding of subterranean species, but also for better planning of the protection of species and their habitats.

Aim

The main aim of the Living Underground campaign is to raise public awareness of the importance of accessible data on subterranean animals for nature conservation. Subterranean animals usually live in environments (e.g., caves, tunnels, springs, etc.) that are difficult for most people to access. Targeted research, especially in caves, requires specialized equipment and physical skills and is also time-consuming. Due to the particularities of such fieldwork, chance finds or observations of subterranean animals are an important source of information about their distribution. We have developed a website where anyone can report their findings of subterranean animals. Only sufficient distribution data on subterranean organisms will help us to protect them and their habitats in the future. This is not an invitation to actively collect and catch animals from their natural habitats, as they are protected by various laws and some of them are also rare and endangered. Our aim is simply to collect information about your observations.

How to participate

Anyone who has observed a subterranean animal on the surface, or has spent time in a subterranean habitat, and would like to contribute to a better understanding of the subterranean biodiversity in our country can take part. On the website https://zivo.podzemlje.si/ you can click on the image of the location (cave, spring, other locations) to access a form where you can enter further information about your sighting.
In the first part of the form, you should provide as much information as possible about the location. This is followed by a section where you write down the animals you have seen.
Here you indicate how many specimens of each animal you have seen and what condition they were in. If you are sure that you have also accurately identified the species and genera for broader groups of animals, please indicate this (e.g., you have seen a fire salamander, which you enter under the category 'other amphibians' and write in the appropriate line). For each major taxonomic group of animals (amphibians, bats, beetles, insects, crustaceans, snails, arachnids, grasshoppers) we have prepared a form in which you can enter data for up to 5 different species in advance. 
In subterranean habitats, you can find a variety of organisms belonging to different animal groups. It is therefore highly recommended, although not obligatory, that you include a photo of the animal you have observed in your report - this will help us to identify the taxonomic group to which it belongs. You can also read basic descriptions of taxonomic groups on the website zivo.podzemlje.si.

Needed equipment

In general, no special equipment required, just a working phone/tablet/computer with internet access. Caving requires a lot of technical and physical effort and should only be done by experienced cavers.

About funding

Funding bodies: Co-financed by the European Union within the LIFE program scheme (LIFE19 GIE/SI/000161)

the Republic of Slovenia and own contribution.

Active from 01/01/2023
Keywords
Report Findings Subterranean Habitats Subterranean Animals Slovenia Species Identification
Science Topics
Biodiversity Biology Ecology & Environment Insects & pollinators
Tags
Suitable for children Teaching materials available
Difficulty Level
Easy
Participation tasks
Audio or video recording Data analysis Data Entry Identification Photography
Coordinator
SubBioLab
Academic
Location
National

Caves, springs, other (subterranean) locations

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