Polyommatus myrrha cinyrea (Polyommatus myrrha cinyrea)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 150512030
Assessment of global conservation status of Polyommatus myrrha cinyrea â€“ endemic of Middle East and Southern Caucasus
Goals of the project
Goal 1: To assess the conservation status of the species for IUCN SSC and Ministry of Nature Protection (MNP) of Armenia. Objectives: 1. To determine biological peculiarities and distribution, and to assess threats for the species in Armenia 2. To survey lepidopterists on the state of Turkish population of the species 3. To prepare assessment of conservation status of the species and submit it to IUCN SSC 4. To prepare and submit to the conservation journal scientific article "Polyommatus myrrha cinyrea: state of the population, ecological peculiarities, and threats" 5. To organize a seminar at the MNP for presenting species assessment and for discussing protection measures 6. To promote results of the project through website Butterfly Conservation Armenia and associated Facebook group. Goal 2: To initiate implementation of full assessment of the territory by Bern Convention criteria. Objectives: 7. To delineate preliminary boundaries of the valley proposed as Emerald Site (that includes habitat of P.m.cinyraea). 8. To conduct inventory of butterflies and birds of the valley included in Appendix II of Bern Convention, and inventory of its habitats using satellite imagery. 9. To formalize description of the territory and to report to the local branch of Bern Convention.
Distribution and biological peculiarities in Armenia
The known distribution of the subspecies in Armenia is restricted by Voghchi River Gorge, where the micro-habitat of the species makes 4.56 ha, including core biotope and the watering place. The habitat of the species is rocky subalpine grasslands at 2500 m a.s.l. The host plant of the species is Cicer anatolicum Alef. Flight period of imago lasts from mid July to early August.
The species was found in Armenia in 1997. Although the area was visited regularly, the information is insufficient for calculation of population trend. Nevertheless it is possible to state that the abundance of the species is relatively low (less then two specimens recorded per 100 m of transect) and in 2016 and 2017 is much lower than it was observed in the period from 1997 to 2008. The small population of its host plant, which was found in 2016 significantly decreased in 2017. The conducted observation show that the host plant prefers only screes made by fairly small stones; number of such screes in the studied area is very limited.
At current it is unclear what kind of threats can affect the habitat and the population of the species; however the recent construction of Hydro Power Plant in the gorge was documented. The project passed formal Environmental Assessment, however the EIA did not take its possible influence into consideration neither on P.m. cinyraea, nor on the other butterfly species inhabiting the gorge, which include IUCN listed Parnassius apollo and Phengaris arion, as well as species included into Red Book of Animals of Armenia.
Although the species P. myrrha was assessed for the Red Book of Butterflies of Turkey, the species has not been evaluated for IUCN Red List, for Red Book of Animals of Armenia, also it is not listed in CITES, and in Bern Convention. The distribution range of the species is included in Zangezur Biosphere Complex, however the status of the land refers to a state sanctuary, which allows implementation of such projects as construction of Hydro Power Plant in the gorge. The following steps appear to be important for conservation of the species: strengthening population of its host plant via artificial planting and creating more appropriate micro-habitats for the plant, detailing distribution, abundance, and better understanding biological peculiarities of P.m. cinyraea; evaluation of conservation status of the species and its subspecies for IUCN Red List; strengthening conservation status of the land and its protection regime; securing obligatory Environmental Impact Assessment of all the business and land use projects in the gorge; popularization of the area for butterfly-watching and creation of alternative income opportunities for local people.
At current, the gorge inhabited by P.m. cinyraea is evaluated as Prime Butterfly Area Kajaran and included in the Emerald Site Zangezur.
Polyommatus myrrha cinyraea is a species in critical conditions; the existing conservation measures are obviously insufficient. Therefore the state of the species requires immediate actions and long term initiatives. The immediate actions include: strengthening population of its host plant via artificial planting and creating more appropriate micro-habitats for the plant, detailing distribution, abundance, and better understanding biological peculiarities of P.m. cinyraea; evaluation of conservation status of the species and its subspecies for IUCN Red List; strengthening conservation status of the land and its protection regime. The longer-term initiatives include: securing obligatory Environmental Impact Assessment of all the business and land use projects in the gorge; and popularization of the area for butterfly-watching and creation of alternative income opportunities for local people.
Project 150512030 location - Armenia, Asia