Table of Contents
I am a field biologist, with expertise in the taxonomy and ecology of a wide range of animal groups, (grasshoppers, butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals). I build up primary biodiversity databases, with a special focus on Mediterranean mountainous ecosystems.
International collaboration, independence, ecological breadth, and a consistent focus on providing solutions to major conservation problems are the four points that depict my research profile.
The last research projects I have initiated concerned the sustainable spatial planning of wind farms without undermining biodiversity goals, the delineation of roadless areas as pristine landscapes of high ecological and aesthetic value that should be preserved as such, and several projects on the conservation of endemic and threatened grasshopper species. I have also recently initiated “apollo” the first voluntary citizen-science scheme for monitoring greek butterflies.
It is my belief that biodiversity conservation and ecological justice are the greatest challenges of our century. Science can provide real answers to our biodiversity crisis-era; we do not have the luxury to do science without implementation and vice versa.
For this reason, I am active as a conservation biologist, attempting to apply scientific findings in practice and to bridge the gap between local and international policymaking. I am a member of several international and national scientific societies and NGOs, having also chaired the Education Committee of the SCB-Europe and having organized the first international summer school on conservation biology for five years.
I am together with Haritakis and we have a lovely daughter, Myrto. If I was not to be a scientist, I would be a musician or a book writer of novels and fairy tales…. Who knows, maybe these dreams will come true one day…
Biodiversity conservation: Indicators, reserve design techniques, biodiversity patterns and mapping, biodiversity under climate change, the impact of human-originated pressures on biodiversity.
Community ecology: Diversity patterns, ecological structure, habitat suitability, and conservation management of terrestrial animal communities: grasshoppers, butterflies, herpetofauna, birds, and mammals.
Conservation biology: Endangered species conservation, protected areas management, windfarm spatial planning, roadless areas and wilderness.
Environmental policy: Science-policy interface, implementation of Natura 2000 network, roadless areas, sustainable game management.
Milestones & Education
University of Ioannina. Department of Biological Applications & Technology. Head of the Biodiversity Conservation Lab.
University of Ioannina. Department of Biological Applications & Technology
University of Patras. Department of Environmental & Natural Resources Management. 2010-2016. Associate Professor in the same Department (2016).
University of Ioannina. Department of Environmental & Natural Resources Management. 2006-2010.
University of Ioannina. Department of Environmental & Natural Resources Management. Lecturer under contract [Teaching the core courses: Plant ecology, Environmental planning and sustainable development.] 2002-2006.
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Institut für Zoologie II. Summer visitor professor (Assistant Professor). [Teaching the postgraduate course: Applied ecology-biodiversity conservation.] July-August 2002.
Technological Institute of Epirus. Department of Fisheries. Lecturer under contract [Teaching the core course: Biology]. 2001-2003.
WWF-Greece. Project on the conservation management and monitoring of Balkan chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica) in Northern Pindus. 2001-2003.
Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Department of Biology, Section of Ecology and Biogeography. Ph.D. on biodiversity conservation with grade "The greatest distinction". Doctoral thesis: «Methodological Approach on Assessing and Optimizing the Conservation of Biodiversity: a case study in Dadia reserve (Greece) ». Supervisor Prof. Ph. Lebrun. 1997-2001
Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Department of Biology, Section of Ecology and Biogeography. Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies en Biologie (DEA) with grade « Great Distinction». MSc thesis: «Passerine and Orchid diversity assessment in Dadia forest reserve, N.E. Greece». Supervisor Prof. Ph. Lebrun. 1997-1999.
Αristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Department of Biology. Diploma in Biology with grade «Excellent» (8.53/10). Diploma thesis: «Assessment of pollution levels of Lasne and Argentine streams (Belgium) in terms of biological indicators”. 1992-1996.
Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. Department of Biology. Erasmus student (12 months). Attending undergraduate and post-graduate courses on land management, environmental management, ecology and biogeography. 1995-1996.
Goal: Mapping the roadless areas of Greece (over 1 sqkm) and providing to the Greek government and society an open spatial database of the roadless areas of Greece, including whole islands, as a tool to delineate and protect wilderness areas of high naturalness, ecological and aesthetic value. The project concludes to suggestions on integrating its outputs in the national and international environmental policies towards minimizing fragmentation and land use change, in the frame of the new biodiversity strategy in the EU.
Period: 2021-2022. Funding: Green Fund of Greece. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. More info here
Goal: Study of the distribution and ecological requirements of fourteen important grasshoppers in the mountains of Oiti and Tymphristos and suggestion of conservation measures for two species that are both endemic and endangered (EN) - Parnassiana tymphrestos and Oropodisma tymphrestosi.
Period: 2021-2022. Funding: Management Agency of Oiti National Park. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. [Photo O. tymphrestosi mating]
Goal: Study of the distribution and ecological requirements of the butterfly of Community interest Papilio alexanor in two Natura 2000 sites (Parnassos and Giona mountains) and suggest conservation measures to improve its population status and conservation degree.
Period: 2021-2022. Funding: Management Agency of Parnassos National Park. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator.
Goal: Study of the distribution and ecological requirements of eleven important grasshopper species in Parnassos National Park and proposal of conservation measures for four endemic and endangered species: Parnassiana parnassica (CR), Oropodisma parnassica (EN), Stenobothrus graecus (EN), Glyphanus obtusus (EN)
Period: 2021-2022. Funding: Management Agency of Parnassos National Park. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. [Photo Glyphanus obtusus]
Goal: Study of the ecological requirements of the Epirus dancing grasshopper (critically endangered and endemic species) and action plan to restore its populations and improve its conservation status in the basin of Pamvotis Lake. Conservation actions will be implemented and their efficiency will be assessed through monitoring, in collaboration with the staff of the Management Agency of Pamvotis Lake.
Period: 2021-2023. Funding: Management Agency of Pamvotis Lake. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. [Photo male Epirus dancing grasshopper]
Goal: Study of the distribution and ecological requirements of important insect species in Mitsikeli and Nemertsika mountains and the broader area (Ioannina, Pogoni). It targets the butterfly Ephydrias aurinia, the endemic cave-cricket of Perama cave Dolichopoda graeca, the species of Community interest Paracaloptenus caloptenoides and the endemic and endangered species Pryonotropis willemsorum. The study concludes to a spatial database and data on the species ecological requirements with concrete conservation measure suggestions where applicable.
Period: 2021-2023. Funding: Management Agency of Pamvotis Lake. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. [Photo Dolichopoda graeca].
Goal: The convergence of climate and biodiversity policies, in the field of wind farm development. The project WIND produced a sustainable scenario of sitting windfarms, which minimizes the cost for biodiversity and natural landscapes, while succeeding to overcome the national climate goals of energy production from windfarms by 2030 and beyond.
Period: 2020-2021. Funding: National Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. More info here
Goal: Connect science with society, with a focus on butterflies, for the mutual benefit of the citizens themselves, science and the Greek State. The projects sets up the first methodological guideline and provides the means to set up the first national citizen science scheme for recording and monitoring butterflies in Greece.
Period: 2019-2020. Funding: National Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. More info here
Goal: Contribution to tackling the problem of fragmentation of the landscape and natural ecosystems from new road networks. The project mapped the roadless areas of 50 sqkm in Greece, and produced papers, policy briefs, video, and an online spatial database of roadless areas. It suggested a European legislation on conserving the last roadless areas as wilderness areas where new roads and artificial land expansion should be banned. The social impact of the project was large, and the Prime Minister announced in COP26 (November 2021) the intention of the government to conserve the last large wilderness roadless areas in Greece under the name “untrodden mountains”. ROADLESS project continued through NATLAND project.
Period: 2019-2020. Funding: Green Fund of Greece. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. More info here
Goal: To provide a georeferenced database of species distribution in the basin of Aoos river, one of the last unfragmented free-flowing rivers in Europe, with special focus on the part of the area that is under no protection status. The project assessed different microhabitats of Aoos’ catchment in terms of their ecological value for the target species, as well as potential pressures and threats. Targeted species included large mammals, the otter and the dragonflies. The project suggested establishing a cross-border national park of Aoos between Greece and Albania.
Period: 2019. Funding: Pindos Perivallontiki (NGO) (Funds from Euronatur). Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. View the report here
Goal: Contribute to wolf-human conflict mitigation in Tzoumerka National Park. The project assesses and describes traditional free-ranging livestock raisers’ profile, records wolf depredation levels on cattle, sheep and goat herds as the main baseline metric of wolf-human conflicts in Tzoumerka NP, identifies and evaluates the principal damage prevention methods adopted by local livestock farmers, assesses levels of livestock guarding dog mortality due to the illegal use of poisoned baits as a major conservation problem and evaluates satisfaction levels of livestock farmers regarding the national compensation system.
Period: 2018. Funding: WWF-Hellas. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. More info here
Goal: Assess the environmental progress of Greece in terms of indicators (SEBI) in the field of nature conservation. The project output was the national environmental report of the country, assessing the progress of Greece to achieve its biodiversity goals, using the system of the Streamlining Biodiversity Indicators of the European Environmental Agency.
Period: 2017. Funding: National Center of Environment and Sustainable Development. Institute: BCL - University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator. View the report here
Goal: Increasing scientific knowledge about the distribution, population and genetic profile of poulations of the endemic and critically endangered grasshopper species (Chorhippus lacustris), with the aim of preserving it in practice. The program provided transfer of know-how to the staff of the Lake Pamvotida Management Agency, which since then monitors the status of the species populations on annual basis (the first invertebrate monitoring scheme in Greece).
Period: 2016-2017. Funding: Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. Institute: University of Patras. Role: Coordinator. More info here
Goal: result dissemination (open access papers) of research undertaken by the PhD student D. Vassilakis concerning the sustainable spatial planning of windfarms so as to minimize the mortality of cinereous vulture in Thrace.
Goal: Set up a spatial database for the grasshopper species in the National Park of Tzoumerka and increase the ecological knowledge of their habitat requirements and human pressures/ threats affecting their populations, to improve their conservation status.
Period: 2015-2017. Funding: Epirus Development Society AE. (funds from Greek Ministry of Environment). Institute: University of Patras. Role: Coordinator.
Goal: Monitoring the amphibian and reptile species of community interest in five sites of the Natura 2000 network and assessing their conservation status in every site of the network.
Period: 2013-2015. Funding: Hellenic Herpetological Society (funding from the Greek Ministry of Environment). Institute: University of Patras. Role: Coordinator
Goal: Monitoring and assess the conservation status of all terrestrial invertebrate species of Community Interest occurring Greece and report on their conservation status under the Article 17 of the Habitats’ Directive.
Period: 2013-2015. Funding: NCC Company (funding from the Greek Ministry of Environment). Institute: University of Athens (A. Legakis). Role: Coordinator of the butterfly group, methodology setting for grasshoppers and dragonflies (University of Patras).
Goal: Collect data on the distribution and population size of insects, with special focus on Lycaena dispar (butterfly) in the lagoon of Messologi to assess its conservation status in the area.
Period: 2013-2015. Funding: NERCO Company (funding from the Greek Ministry of Environment). Institute: University of Patras. Role: Coordinator.
Goal: Collect data on the distribution and population status of amphibians, reptiles and a beetle species (Osmoderma eremita) of Community Interest in the area of Kalamas, and report on their conservation status in the area.
Period: 2013-2015. Funding: OIKOM Company (funding from the Greek Ministry of Environment). Institute: University of Patras. Role: Coordinator and researcher (herpetology/entomology),
Goal: Assess the biodiversity importance and the social value of sacred groves in the area of Epirus The biodiversity group collected data from vegetation, lichens, birds, and bats and published a relevant paper together with other members of the consortium.
Period: 2012-2015. Funding: Greek Ministry of Development (ESPA) and European Union (European Social Funds). Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator: J.M. Halley. Role: Researcher (ornithologist) and coordinator of the biodiversity group I (vegetation, lichens, birds, bats). Relevant papers: Avtzis et al 2018; Muggia et al. 2018. More info here.
Nota: New independent research from BCL contradicts the project outputs and underlines the significantly greater ecological value of sacred groves as “biodiversity refugia” for bird communities vs managed oak woods for birds (passerines, woodpeckers) considering organismal, functional and phylogenetic diversity. Benedetti et al. 2021
Goal: To assess the impact of the agricultural land abandonment on landscape change, on woody species and bird diversity and conclude to measures that contribute to biodiversity conservation. A common methodology for woody species, landscape structure and bird sampling was applied in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Croatia, whilst Austria was involved in landscape analysis. The project provided concrete evidence on the negative impact of land abandonment for biodiversity and the positive role of mild grazing in the mid-elevation former agricultural landscapes.
Period 2010-2012. Funding: SEE-ERA.NET PLUS CALL (FP7). Institute: University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator of the international projects involving five countries. Relevant papers: Zakkak et al. 2018, Dyulgerova et al. 2015, Zakkak et al. 2015a, Zakkak et al. 2015b. More info here
Goal: Increase the knowledge of the diversity patterns of flora and invertebrate fauna (butterflies and grasshoppers) in the island of Cyprus, along an elevation gradient, and conclude to conservation measures for the target taxa under the light of climate change.
Period: 2010-2013. Funding: Institute of Research Promotion of Cyprus (PENEK Scheme). Institute: Frederick University, Cyprus Coordinator (K. Kadis). Role: Co-supervisor of PhD thesis, involved in sampling design and methodology setting of the project. Relevant paper: Tzirkalli et al. 2019
Goal: Special environmental studies updating the species list and relevant ecological information of the two Natura 2000 sites through fieldwork.
Period: 2008-2009. Funding: Epirus Development Society AE. Institute: University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator and researcher (ornithologist).
Goal: Evaluation of the conservation status of habitats as well as the landscapes in the Northern Pindos National Park.
Period: 2008.Funding: Management Agency of Northern Pindos National Park under Interreg IIIA/Cards, Greece-Albania Scheme. Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator: P. Dimopoulos. Role: Researcher (landscape ecology).
Goal: To develop an integrated information system for common monitoring and management of similar ecosystems Greece and Italy (Greek case study: Kalamas Delta).
Period: 2006-2009. Funding: INTERREG IIIA, Greece-Italy. Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator: P. Dimopoulos. Role: Researcher (ornithologist-entomologist). Relevant paper: Kati et al. 2012
Goal: To provide guidelines for the adequate conservation management of riverine ecosystems.
Period: 2005-2008. Funding: INTERREG IIIC – Sud/ FEDER. Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator: P. Dimopoulos. Role: Researcher (ornithologist).
Goal: To provide the first geospatial biodiversity database of the mountains of central Pindos in Tzoumerka National Park, through fieldwork concerning the habitats, the flora and the fauna of the study area. Animal taxa covered: grasshoppers, butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small birds (passerines and woodpeckers), small mammals (rodents and insectivorous), bats, as well as the otter and the chamois. The project's ultimate goal was to feed the forthcoming special environmental study with data, in order to contribute to the adequate land-use zoning of the National Park.
Period: 2004-2007. Funding: Hellenic Ministry of Education (Pythagoras II Scheme). Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator: P. Dimopoulos. Role: Researcher (insects, birds) and coordinator of the fauna group.
Goal: Undertake the Special Environmental Study of the broader Tzoumerka area, concluding to an adequate zoning system of land uses for the conservation of biodiversity, under the scope to announce a new national park.
Period: 2004-2005. Funding: Epirus Development Society AE. Coordinator. H. Papaioannou. Role: Researcher (entomologist-ornithologist).
Goal: Provide the first geospatial bird database of Pindos National Park through fieldwork, covering different habitat types, assessing their value for conservation, while suggesting adequate conservation measures for bird diversity. The project included environmental education activities, such as university student training and seminars.
Period: 2003-2004. Funding: Hellenic Ministry of Environmental and Public Works (Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Scheme). Institute: Pindos Perivallontiki & University of Ioannina. Role: Coordinator and researcher (ornithologist). Relevant paper: Kati et al. 2009
Goal: Studying the impact of grazing on plant diversity, taking as a study area the Bourazani Environmental Park.
Period: 2002-2004. Funding: Ministry of Development and General Secretariat of Research, Common Research and Technological Projects of Greece and Germany. Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator P. Dimopoulos. Role: Researcher (entomologist).
Goal: Studying and mapping biodiversity in Xiromeros oak forest.
Period: 2002-2003. Funding: Hellenic Ministry of Environmental and Public Works (Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Scheme). Institute: University of Ioannina. Coordinator: P. Dimopoulos. Role: Researcher (ornithologist)
Goal: A WWF long term project for Northern Pindos National Park.
Period: 2001-2003. Funding: WWF-Greece. Institute: WWF Greece. Coordinator: H. Papaioannou. Role: Researcher for the monitoring and conservation management of Balkan chamois population. Relevant paper: Papaioannou & Kati 2007
Publications include (a) international peer reviewed papers, (b) book chapters, (c) papers in conference proceedings, (d) published datasets, (e) selected reports. Links for accessing pdfs are provided
*: corresponding author.
Paper without Impact Factor.
The current research is conducted in the framework of conservation biology, taking as a case study the reserve of Dadia, in NE Greece. Biological diversity is represented by six biological groups: vegetation, orchids, Orthoptera, aquatic and terrestrial herpetofauna, and small terrestrial birds. The diversity and the ecological structure of the group communities are assessed and analyzed for 36 sites, which represent different habitat types in the Dadia reserve. Five conservation scenarios are constructed to design optimal reserve networks for the conservation of biodiversity. They support the scoring versus approach, the principle of complementarity, of biological representativeness, of environmental representativeness, and finally the random design of reserve systems. Their efficiency is tested and their utility is discussed. The degree of coincidence of hotspots and of the optimal network for different groups is measured, as well as the surrogate value of each studied group as a shortcut for the conservation of the other groups and of overall biodiversity. Finally, we discuss practical conservation issues for the reserve of Dadia.