Red Lists and Red Books

Red lists and Red books are integrative publications presenting the characteristics of species or groups of species that are endangered at national, regional or global level. They include species on the verge of extinction in the near future according to international criteria. Red lists and Red books of endangered wild species with the sites of their occurrence, population size and degree of threat are determined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, following the proposal of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, and in cooperation with other professional and scientific institutions.

Red books are usually preceded by Red lists, which are the first step towards the institutional protection of a particular group of organisms. The first list in Serbia was on vertebrates and this was the Preliminary List of Species for the Red List of Vertebrates, which was published in the journal Nature Conservation 1990-1991. The authors were Voislav Vasić, Georg Džukić, Draga Janković, Natalija Simonov, Boris Petrov and Ivo Savić. This list, which was a kind of starting point for the work on the Red Books of Vertebrates of Serbia, included potential species for which protection and conservation measures have been undertaken or need to be taken. Among them were one species of jawless fish and 29 species of fish (such as European sturgeon, sturgeon, Danube sturgeon, herring, grayling, European mudminnow, pike, carp, stone loach, European weather loach, eel, burbot, zanders and zindels), 22 species of amphibians (fire salamanders, newts, all species of frogs), 21 species of reptiles (turtles, lizards and snakes), 72 species of mammals, as well as a large number of birds (353 species).

The first book on the topic of biodiversity, which also outlined certain categories of threat, was the Biodiversity of Yugoslavia with an overview of species of international importance, from 1995, the editors of which were Vladimir Stevanović and Voislav Vasić. Generally speaking, Red books are of practical importance, the ultimate goal of which is to restore the disturbed mechanisms of survival of endangered populations. These are specialized publications containing almost all the necessary information that can serve to protect the species and their habitats.

The first Red book was the Red Data Book of the Flora of Serbia 1 - Extinct and Critically Endangered Taxa, published in 1999. This monograph on endangered plant species in our country, the editor of which was Vladimir Stevanović, was the result of multi-annual work and experience of 30 botanists from Serbia. The publication presents the status of 171 endangered plant taxa (species and subspecies), which accounts for about 5% of the total flora of Serbia, the sites of the findings, the causes of species extinction and threat and the proposed measures for their conservation. In relation to the total number of extinct and critically endangered taxa, 4 taxa were irretrievably lost from the world gene pool, as they represented endemic species, the native range of which was only in the territory of Serbia (Althaea kragujevacensis Pančić, Althaea vranjensis, Scabiosa achaeta Vis. & Pančić and Trapa annosa Janković), while 46 taxa no longer exist in Serbia, but can still be found in neighboring countries or in ex situ conditions such as botanical gardens. 121 species are critically endangered and there are likely to disappear from our territories or from the world in the near future if they are not given due attention in terms of protecting, conserving and enhancing their populations in nature.

A few years later, in 2003, the Institute for Nature Conservation in Serbia published a second Red Book - Red Data Book of Serbian Butterflies - Lepidoptera: Hesperioidea and Papilionoidea, the author of which was Predrag Jakšić. This book contains an analysis of 57 butterfly species that make up 34% of Serbia's butterfly fauna, one of which has the status of extinct species, 22 are endangered, 24 are vulnerable, 7 are rare species and 3 are not endangered. In addition to the extinct Leptidea morsei, the most endangered are Alpine Hisperida, Papilio machaon, Euchloe aussonia, Erebia manto, Erebia alberganus, Parnassius apollo, Colias myrmidone, Apatura ilia, Apatura iris, Melitaea diamina and Brenthis ino. 12 years later, the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, in cooperation with the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade published in 2015 the first two Red books of vertebrate fauna: The Red Book of Fauna of Serbia I – Amphibians and The Red Book of Fauna of Serbia II – Reptiles. The Red Book of Fauna of Serbia I – Amphibians assesses the status of 10 species of amphibians (five species of tailed amphibians – Salamandra atra, Ichthyosaura alpestris, Triturus cristatus, Triturus dobrogicus and Triturus ivanbureschi, and five species of tailless amphibians – Pelobates fuscus, Pelobates syriacus, Rana lessonae, Rana graeca and Rana temporaria), which represent 47% of the amphibian fauna in Serbia compared to the 21 species recorded. In the compiling of this Red book, which also contains detailed information on the importance of the Red books, the general characteristics and diversity of the amphibians of the Balkan Peninsula and Serbia, the principle of work and structure of the data used for the Red book, the habitats of amphibians, threat assessment, threat factors and measures for the protection and conservation, 11 authors were involved together with the editors Miloš Kalezić, Ljiljana Tomović and Georg Džukić.

In addition to this publication, The Red Book of Fauna of Serbia II – Reptiles was published in 2015, which presented the status of 16 species (3 species of turtles - Emys orbicularis, Testudo graeca and Testudo hermanni, 7 species of lizards - Mediodactylus kotschyi, Ablepharus kitaibelii, Algyroides nigropunctatus, Darevskia praticola, Podarcis erhardii, Podarcis tauricus, Zootoca vivipara and 6 species of snakes - Dolichophis caspius, Elaphe quatuorlineata, Platyceps najadum, Vipera ammodytes, Vipera berus and Vipera ursinii). These species account for as much as 75% of all 24 registered species of reptiles in Serbia. The structure of the publication is the same as for the Red Book of Amphibians, and 11 authors and 3 editors also took part in its development. The book synthesizes comprehensive information, from the general characteristics of reptiles in Serbia and their diversity in Serbia and the Balkans, through descriptions of the biology and ecology of individual species selected by threat criteria, to the degree of threat to their habitats, threat factors and protection measures.

At the beginning of 2019, the Red Book of Fauna of Serbia III - Birds was published by the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, the Department of Biology and Ecology of the Faculty of Natural Science and Mathematics, University of Novi Sad, and the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia. The publication, resulting from the work of 36 authors, provides information on the importance of Red books and the historical overview of bird research in Serbia. It also presents the general characteristics of birds, threats to their populations and their diversity, sources and structure of data for the assessment of extinction risk and the assessment of bird vulnerability in Serbia, their habitats, threat factors and protection measures, as well as a survey of endangered breeding and non-breeding populations based on a database of more than 312 000 findings collected by the authors themselves and numerous bird experts. This publication refers to 352 taxa reliably recorded in Serbia by 2016, with the estimated risk of extinction to both breeding populations of 255 species and non-breeding populations of all species. Within the group of breeding populations, 14 species were identified as regionally extinct taxa, 15 species were critically endangered, 22 endangered and 22 vulnerable species. Within the group of non-breeding populations, one species was identified as regionally extinct taxon, 4 were critically endangered, 14 threatened and 17 vulnerable species. The assessment of the threat status was preceded by the development of a Red list of 147 taxa.

At the end of 2018, the Red Data Book of Fauna of Serbia IV - Orthoptera was published, the authors of which were Dragan Pavićević, Ivo Karaman and Mladen Horvatović. This Red book, as other published Red books, describes the importance of Red books and IUCN threat categories and criteria, provides an overview of general characteristics and diversity of Balkan Peninsula orthopterans, the history of research on orthopterans in Serbia, their habitats, threat factors and protection measure. It also provides a survey of 45 endangered orthoptera taxa in the fauna of Serbia, including one of the regionally extinct species Bradyporus (Callimenus) macrogaster longicollis, 4 critically endangered (such as the Pancic's grasshopper), 3 endangered and 27 vulnerable species and 10 species with the status of near threatened.