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Crau Plain Grasshopper (Prionotropis hystrix rhodanica)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 142510206

Implementing populatino management for the Critically Endangered Crau Plain Grasshopper

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 142510206) - Crau Plain Grasshopper - Awarded $11,000 on January 30, 2015

The conservation strategy for the Crau Plain Grasshopper identified three important areas for conservation action: (1) Research (filling the gaps concerning the status of the remaining populations and the response to potential threats), (2) Management (protection of more grassland sites, optimized habitat management, species support), (3) Public awareness. Objectives (2) and (3) will be conducted by the Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, and the zoos in Thoiry and Bristol. However, there is a strong need to obtain more knowledge on the species, particularly concerning potential threats. The research objectives are the following ones: (a) To clarify the population sizes of the remaining populations, their spatial extent and set up a monitoring programme; (b) to clarify the major threats, particularly potential changes in vegetation structure, grazing regime, sheep medication and predation (by cattle egrets, which invaded the area recently).

Studies on the ecology of this species were first conducted in the mid 1980s. During the first decade of the 21st Century, a rapid decline was noted. A reserve manager (Laurent Tatin) started some projects for this species and a first study on the ecology and population size of the biggest population was conducted in 2013 by three students. In spring 2014 a conservation planning workshop took place in St Martin de la Crau in cooperation with the IUCN SSC Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee. The Action Plan has recently been finalized. Our project aims at implementing the research part of this plan. The expected results will be crucial for the implementation of an optimized management. 

The results will continuously be fed into the adaptive management conducted by the Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur. It goes along with an ex situ breeding programme, coordinated by Bristol Zoo and Thoiry Zoo. We hope that our results will help to identify the major threat that has led to the rapid decline of this species. The management will be adapted to match the needs of the Crau Plain Grasshopper as far as possible (integrated with other action plans in the area). 

Project 142510206 location - France, Europe