Folia faunistica Slovaca (2008) 13 (4): 19-22

Data on the terrestrial Isopoda fauna of the Alsó-hegy, Aggtelek National Park, Hungary

Ferenc Vilisics1, Antal Nagy2, Péter Sólymos1, Roland Farkas4, Zita Kemencei1, Barna Páll-Gergely5, Máté Kisfali3 & Elisabeth Hornung1

1 Szent István University, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Institute for Biology, Budapest, Hungary []
2 University of Debrecen, Faculty of Agricultural Science, Department of Plant Protection, Debrecen, Hungary
3 University of Debrecen, Faculty of Technologies and Sciences, Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, Debrecen, Hungary
4 Aggtelek National Park Directorate, Jósvafő, Hungary
5 University of Pécs, Faculty of Sciences, Department of General and Applied Ecology, Pécs, Hungary

Prišlo (received): 26.2.2008; Akceptované (accepted): 18.4.2008; Vydané (published) online: 24.4.2008


ñ top

Field surveys in dolines of Alsó-hegy, Aggtelek Karst (Hungary) yielded 10 terrestrial isopod species. Despite of the relatively low species richness, we would like to emphasize the high naturalness of the area indicated by the presence of endemic and rare species.

Key words: Isopoda, karst, doline, endemism, Aggtelek.


ñ top

The locality of the first faunistical data on Hungarian terrestrial isopods were published from the Aggtelek Karst. Dated back to 1856 and 1875, Schmidl and Frivaldszky described Titanethes graniger, recently known as Mesoniscus graniger (Frivaldszky, 1875) from the cave systems of the Aggtelek Karst. Over hundred years later Kontschán (2004) has compiled data collected by several non-isopodologist researchers and listed six widely distributed European species (Ligidium hypnorum (Cuvier, 1792), Haplophthalmus danicus Budde-Lund, 1880, Haplophthalmus mengii Zaddach, 1844, Hyloniscus riparius (C. Koch, 1838), Orthometopon planum (Budde-Lund, 1885), Porcellium collicola (Verhoeff, 1907), Protracheoniscus politus (C. Koch, 1841). Our present sampling was the first designed faunistic research on surface active oniscids in the Aggtelek Karst area. Moreover, Mlejnek et al. (2001) reported occurrences of M. ganiger from caves of Aggtelek area.

The Hungarian Northern Ranges (Északi-középhegység), probably owing to its extension and high variety of geomorphological and geological traits, has unique isopod assemblages as it is proven by Allspach (1996), Kontschán (2002, 2003) and Kontschán et al. (2006). Here we find Carpathian species (Ligidium intermedium Radu, 1950, Hyloniscus transsilvanicus (Verhoeff, 1901), Trachelipus difficilis (Radu, 1950) together with Atlantic-Alpine (Porcellium conspersum (C. Koch, 1841), Armadillidium opacum (C. Koch, 1841) isopods while the typical Central and Eastern European faunal elements (e.g. P. collicola, P. politus or Lepidoniscus minutus (C. Koch, 1838) can also be found. Moreover, the area harbours troglobitic isopods and one endemic species (Haplophthalmus hungaricus Kesselyák, 1930) that is considered (Kesselyák 1928) as an ancient form of other Haplophthalmus species.

Our research named “Dolina 2007 Expedition“ aimed to discover and observe the soil and litter dwelling macroinvertebrates (Mollusca, Isopoda) in and around the dolines of the plateau of Alsó-hegy with special respect to microhabitat characteristics. The primary results of the research are stated in the recent paper.

Materials and methods

ñ top

Sampling area

The Alsó-hegy (UTM: DU78) is the eastern extension of the Aggtelek Karst area that is geologically connected to the Slovak Karst and is a part of the Aggtelek National Park. The sampling area is characterized by numerous depressions (sinkholes and dolines) in Triassic limestone formed in shallow seas approximately 210–240 million years ago. The area is covered with deciduous forests with dominating species of oak, hornbeam, beech, ash and maple. Table 1 contains data of each doline including locality and the EOV (Egységes Országos Vetület or Unified National Projection System) coordinates.

Sampling methods

Manual samplings have taken place between 16th and 18th August, 2007. We have chosen 16 dolines of similar traits (Table 1). During time sampling, two persons (F. V. and A. N.) have collected isopods for 20 minutes in each site, spending 120 minutes with sampling altogether in each doline. Time sampling provides data eligible in respect of quantitative data analyses.

We used the keys of Kesselyák (1928), Schmölzer (1965), Gruner (1966) and Schmidt (1997) for identification of woodlice specimens. Species names are used according to Schmalfuss (2003). Samples are stored in alcohol (70 %) in the reference collection of the Institute for Biology at the Szent István University, Faculty of Veterinary Science.

Data were handled by the ‚mefa‘ package (Sólymos 2008) in the R environment (R Development Core Team 2007).

Table 1. Sites, localities and date of field surveys in 16 dolines in Alsó-hegy of the Aggtelek karst.


ñ top

Altogether 10 isopod species were captured in the dolines studied. All the species found are considered as natives, including several rare ones with small local distribution range (Hornung et al. 2007).

The pigmy, rare H. hungaricus is the only Hungarian endemic isopod with a distribution restricted to the Hungarian Northern Ranges (Forró & Farkas 1998, Vilisics 2007). The troglobitic M. graniger is common in the cave systems of Aggtelek karst and the surrounding countries (e.g. Slovakia, Romania, Serbia), but its occurrence on the surface is a new data for the species‘ Hungarian distribution.

The Central- and Eastern European species P. politus, L. minutus, O. planum and Trachelipus ratzeburgii (Brandt, 1833) are inhabitants of natural deciduous forests in Hungary and Central Europe. These isopods along with less frequent species indicate a quasi natural area under low human disturbance. The Carpathian element T. difficilis (occuring in N-Romania, NE-Hungary and S-Poland) is among the rarest species in Hungary, with only two published data from the past 80 years (Allspach & Szlávecz 1990, Allspach 1996).
The Atlantic-Alpine P. conspersum (e.g. Holland, NE-France, Germany, Switzerland, Czechia, Slovakia) is also a rare isopod for Hungary that occurs in higher elevations (above 500 m) in the Northern Ranges, like the Bükk (Forró & Farkas 1998) and the Zemplén Mts. (Elek et al. 2004, Kontschán et al. 2006).

Common European species (T. provisorius, T. ratzeburgii and L. hypnorum) possess a wide distribution area in Europe inhabiting sites of high natural quality in Hungary (Hornung et al. in press).

Species occurrences in dolines of Alsó-hegy

The first number indicates the number of doline, the number in brackets refers to the to the number of collected individuals.

Ligidium hypnorum (Cuvier, 1792) (9 dolines): 1 (1); 2 (1); 3 (3); 4 (1); 5 (5); 6 (1); 7 (3); 8 (4); 15 (1)

Haplophthalmus hungaricus Kesselyák, 1930 (10 dolines): 1 (2); 4 (4); 6 (2); 7 (1); 8 (9); 9 (1); 11 (1); 12 (4); 13 (2); 14 (5).
Mesoniscus graniger (Frivaldszky, 1875) (1 doline): 15 (1)
Trichoniscus provisorius Racovitza, 1908 (7 dolines): 2 (2); 4 (2); 6 (1); 7 (1); 8 (7); 9 (3); 14 (5)

Lepidoniscus minutus (C. Koch, 1838) (15 dolines): 1 (3); 2 (7); 3 (7); 5 (3); 6 (3); 7 (3); 8 (1); 9 (5); 10 (2); 11 (3); 12 (3); 13 (2); 14 (8); 15 (11); 16 (2)

Orthometopon planum (Budde-Lund, 1885) (8 dolines): 1 (2); 2 (3); 3 (3); 8 (3); 11 (2); 12 (3); 13 (2); 15 (1)
Protracheoniscus politus (C. Koch, 1841) (15 dolines): 1 (6); 2 (2); 3 (3); 4 (1); 5 (7); 6 (16); 7 (11); 8 (10); 9 (16); 10 (7); 11 (16); 12 (10); 13 (7); 14 (5); 15 (18); 16 (4)

Porcellium conspersum (C. Koch, 1841) (6 dolines): 4 (2); 5 (1); 6 (1); 8 (10); 14 (6); 15 (1)
Trachelipus difficilis (Radu, 1950) (12 dolines): 5 (12); 6 (11); 7 (11); 8 (1); 9 (8); 10 (26); 11 (10); 12 (30); 13 (18); 14 (24); 15 (15); 16 (7).
Trachelipus ratzeburgii (Brandt, 1833) (5 dolines): 1 (1); 2 (3); 6 (1); 8 (2); 14 (3)

Figure 1. Map of location and numbering of the surveyed dolines.


ñ top

Here we present faunistic data on surface dwelling isopods from the Aggtelek Karst region. The lack of introduced, cosmopolitan or native generalist isopods might indicate a relatively high nature conservancy value of the area. Moreover, we believe that the presence of rare and sensitive species indicates naturally formed isopod assemblages with a species composition undisturbed from human activity. However, the prevalence of such unique assemblage is no longer guaranteed under the given anthropogenic impacts (e.g. illegal logging) increasing in the area.


ñ top

Our research was funded by the ÁOTK-NKB 15714, and National Research Fund (OTKA T 43508) grants. We thank to Jana Štrichelová and Dr. Ivan H. Tuf from the Palacky University, Olomouc for their help in the Slovak translation. This is paper No. 1 in „Dolina 2007 Project”.


ñ top

Allspach A & Szlávecz K, 1990: The terrestrial Isopod (Isopoda: Oniscidea) fauna of the Bátorliget Nature Reserves, In: Mahunka S (ed.): The Bátorliget Nature Reserves – after forty years, 250–257. Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest.

Allspach A, 1996: The terrestrial Isopods of the Bükk National Park (Crustacea; Isopoda; Oniscidea). In: Mahunka S (ed): The fauna of the Bükk National Park, II., Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, 1996, pp. 71–74.

Elek Z, Vilisics F, Hornung E, Magura T & Tóthmérész B, 2004: Természetes erdőszegélyek hatása két ízeltlábú csoport térbeli mintázatára egy gyep-erdő transzekt mentén (Coleoptera: Carabidae; Crustacea: Isopoda). Conference abstract, Szegedi Ökológus Napok.

Forró L & Farkas S, 1998: Checklist, preliminary distribution maps and bibliography of woodlice in Hungary (Isopoda: Oniscidea). Miscnea. Zool. Hung., 12: 21–44.

Frivaldszky I, 1865: Adatok a magyarhoni barlangok faunájához. Matematikai és Természettudományi Közlemények. 3: 17–53.

Gruner HE, 1966: Krebstiere oder Crustacea V. Isopoda 2. In: Die Tierwelt Deutschlands und der angrenzenden Meeresteile 53: 151–380.

Hornung E, Vilisics F & Sólymos P (in press): Low alpha and high beta diversity in terrestrial isopod assemblages in the Transdanubian region of Hungary. In: Zimmer M et al. (eds): Proceedings of the International Symposium on Terrestrial Isopod Biology: ISTIB-7, Shaker Verlag: Aachen, Germany.

Hornung E, Vilisics F & Szlávecz K, 2007: Categorization of terrestrial isopods (Isopoda, Oniscidea) of Hungary based on the comparison of Budapest and Baltimore (in Hungarian with English Summary). Természetvédelmi Közlemények 13: 47–58.

Kesselyák A, 1928: Miként fejlődött a Haplophthalmusok párzószerve? Bölcsészetdoktori értekezés, pp. 1–19.

Kontschán J, 2002: Ligidium fajok újabb adatai hazánkból és egy Magyarország faunájára új ászkarák, a Ligidium intermedium Radu, 1950 előkerülése a Zempléni hegységből. (Crustacea: Isopoda: Oniscidea). Folia Entomologica Hungarica 63: 183–186.

Kontschán J, 2003: Néhány ritka ászkarák (Crustacea: Isopoda: Oniscidea) újabb előfordulási adatai Magyarországról. Folia Historico Naturalia Musei Matraensis 27: 43-48.

Kontschán J, 2004: Néhány adat az Északi-középhegység ászkarák faunájához (Crustacea: Isopoda: Oniscidea). Folia Historico Naturalia Musei Matraensis 28: 91–93.

Kontschán J, Hegyessy G & Csordás B, 2006: Abaúj és Zemplén tájainak makroszkopikus rákjai (Crustacea). Információk Északkelet-Magyarország természeti értékeiről V., Sátoraljaújhely. p. 89.

Mlejnek R & Ducháč V, 2001: Rozšíření Mesoniscus graniger (Crustacea: Isopoda: Oniscidea) v západních Karpatech. Natura Carpatica 62: 75–88.

R Development Core Team, 2007: R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL:

Schmalfuss H, 2003: World catalog of terrestrial isopods (Isopoda: Oniscidea). Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturk. Ser. A. Nr. 654: 341 pp.

Schmidl C, 1856: Die Baradla-Höhle bei Aggtelek und die Lednice–Eishöhle bei Szilitze im Gömörer Komitate Ungarns. Sitz.-ber. Akad. Wiss. Wien, Math.-naturwiss. Kl., 22: 579–621.

Schmölzer K, 1965: Bestimmungsbücher zur Bodenfauna Europas. Ordnung Isopoda (Landasseln). Lieferung 4 and 5: 468 pp. Akademie Verlag, Berlin.

Schmidt C, 1997: Revision of the European species of the genus Trachelipus Budde-Lund, 1908 (Crustacea: Isopoda: Oniscidea). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 121: 129–244.

Sólymos P, 2008: mefa: Faunistic count data handling and reporting. R package version 1.0-4. URL: Retrieved on 11.02.2008.

Vilisics F, 2007: New and rare species in the isopod fauna of Hungary (Crustacea, Isopoda, Oniscidea): results of field surveys and revisions. Folia Historico Musei Matraensis 31: 115–123.


ñ top