In July 2018 representatives of the Natural History Museum Vienna (Elisabeth Haring and Helmut Sattmann) together with Sajmir Beqiraj and Xhoia Mujali (University of Tirana), went for an excursion to the karst lakes of the Belshi region south of Elbasan, Albania. A project submitted to the WTZ aims to assess the freshwater mollusc fauna of this area. On the one hand, the species composition of the different lakes will be related to different ecological, geological and physical parameters, on the other hand the species shall be characterized by DNA barcoding and compared to the same or closely related species in other regions of Europe. This is intended to provide information on intraspecific variation and phylogeographic patterns, especially for widely distributed species. In addition, this project should be an impetus for DNA barcoding initiatives in the countries of the Balkan Peninsula, which (still) show considerable biodiversity, which must be recognized and protected before it is lost forever.

All images: Helmut Sattmann

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