It is Už in Ukraine and Uh in Slovakia. It is an interesting river in the Ukraine-Slovakia borderland. It is the object of our research aimed at the inventory of the species and the biodiversity of chosen groups of water insects. It is the purpose of our expedition.
Two members and a former student of the Department of Ecology took part in the first stage of the expedition in August 2015 which was organized in order to fulfil the tasks of the “Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Diptera biodiversity trip along the Uzh river, Ukraine” project which was financially supported by the organisation: FAN (B) – Förderkreis für allgemeine Naturkunde (Biologie).
The beginnings are usually difficult and this action was no exception. We had much to do to manage the communication with the Ukrainian side. The news from the Ukraine scared and stressed our wives. To be honest we were also a bit concerned before the start of the journey as the media kept on feeding us with various shocking news from the region. Apart from the conflict in the east of Ukraine we had to consider the potential threat of “the fight of the clans“ associated with the “fight of the good and the bad policemen“ which had initiated close to the border with Slovakia before our journey. And that was our target destination … However, after several minutes there we found the situation being calm, people were nice … at least in the west of the country. Ukraine, as we saw it, is beautiful with admirable nature, full of smiling and welcoming people. In some respect it reminded us Slovakia in the words of our parents. The few negative factors about Carpatho-Ukraine can be regarded the shattered roadways (which did not bother the local drivers) and ever-present rubbish (more than in Slovakia).
As a scientific expedition behoves just after our arrival to Uzhorod we took the direction to the water. We began to work in the river Uzh down the metropolis of the Carpatian-Ukraine. Besides the insect, which was the main purpose of our expedition, we were often followed by bathing children and even the adults in Uzh and also in its several tributaries (another analogy with the past of our country?). The water was (un)pleasantly warm and it provided us with almost no freshness in the extreme – hot weather though it was nice for the “holidaymakers“. The surroundings was also briliant. However, due to the findings in the water and around we would not recommend it for bathing or water sports. More attentive look into it could clearly show objects of various usage and origin – also rubbish in the streams and near them. The natives paid little attention to the municipal and often intensive organic pollution therefore we were not trying to spoil their pleasure by our opinions and recommendations.
Our aim was neither enlightenment nor relaxation. We wanted to get down the mainstream of the river Uzh and its tributaries almost to the source of the river situated close to the village of Stužica and we wanted to collect more material for further study in appropriate localities. So the hard work began. We were collecting the specimen of larvae of aquatic invertebrates during the day, we searched the imagoes in the rivers vicinity and we were catching the adults by attracting them on light near the place we stayed at night.
Generally, we have visited more than 25 chosen localities during our tour but due to the extreme hot weather and drouth we have only collected the specimen from 19 places.
The most beautiful localities included mainly the tributaries of the river in the locations out of the habitation. They were also the places of our greatest interest from the point of biodiversity of aquatic insects although we need more time for exact results, their processing and publishing. We are still expecting the second part of the expedition the next spring. It will be mostly focused on forested localities of little intervention (by the beef-cattle gauchoes, holiday-makers and by the energy producers) of the Uzh catchment.
Here we would like to thank the organization FAN (B) – Förderkreis für allgemeine Naturkunde (Biologie) for their financial support of the project. We also thank to our wives for their understanding, patience and their support.
The authors of the blog: Jozef Oboňa and Peter Manko, Department of Ecology FHNS UP.
Translated by Mgr. Iveta Zubková.