Research Profile and Goals of the Department:
Department of Biodiversity Monitoring and Conservation is a legal successor of the Batumi Botanic Gardens. Therefore, its scientific activities are particularly significant proceeding from the problems and priorities of one of the most important field in the modern world - conservation biology. The nature of the activities determines its connections with the international organizations and conventions of biodiversity protection, governmental priorities of plants’ (cultural, wild) genetic resources protection determined by the Biodiversity Strategy of Georgia and Action Plan (2005). As a result, the priority is given to scientific researches, monitoring of certain components of biodiversity and in situ and ex situ conservation of biological diversity. On this basis the main goals of the scientific activity are:
• To participate in elaboration of project proposals with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), Rustaveli National Science Foundation, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and other environmental organizations;
• To elaborate scientific basics for ex situ and in situ conservation of the exotic and local flora of strategic importance;
• To study the present conditions of invasive (adventure) species complexes;
• To study, evaluate and recommend antimicrobial, biomorphological, decorative and phytotherapeutic indices of the exotic and local flora of Ajara Black Sea littoral;
• To conduct selective and genetic study of local and introduced decorative and fruit plants spread in Ajara for the purpose of genetic fund preservation, revelation of perspective species and further application;
• To work out monitoring indicators and compile inventory of the Black Sea ichtyo fauna and sea mammals species diversity.
Current scientific topics at the Department:
1. “Invasive (Adventure) Plant in Coastal Ajara”.
The aim of the research is to describe adventure plants in Georgia, namely, along the Ajara coastline; to study the present situation, specify ways of invasion, evaluate expected risks in connection with local wild flora and cultural flora, make predictions for new invasion processes.
2. “Study of Antimicrobial Properties of Local and Exotic Flora along Ajara Black Sea Littoral”
The research implies the study of antimicrobial properties (antibacterial, protistocydal, antimycotic, etc.) of significant wild-growing, cultural or collection species of local and exotic flora along Ajara littoral, at different stages of plant development. The recreational, phyto-therapeutic, bio-morphological, decorative and other types of indices will be evaluated; practical recommendations will be elaborated for agriculture, phytopathology, phytotherapy, decorative gardening, etc.
Ajara is famous for over 100 forms and genus of an exceptionally decorative species – Japanese Camellia (Camellia yaponica). Through the recent methods of molecular biology, the genetic mechanisms of polymorphism revealed during blooming period will be determined.
3. “Selective and Genetic Study of Subtropical and Local (Endemic) Fruit Diversity. Their Conservation for the Purpose of Genofund Preservation and Protection of Species Purity”.
The aim of the research is to study diversity of the local ((endemic) and subtropical (citrus, kiwi, feijoa, persimmon) fruit trees spread in Ajara; revelation of perspective, rare and extinct species, genera, forms and hybrids; their conservation for the purpose of genetic fund preservation and protection of species purity.
4. “Preservation, Protection, Monitoring, Management and in situ Conservation of the Biodiversity of the Black Sea and Landscape Ichtyo-fauna and Sea Mammals”.
The aim of the research is to conduct ecological study of the habitats along the Georgian Black Sea littoral as well as to study ichtyofauna and dolphins’ diversity, inventoty, definition of biodiversity status with IUCN categories and criteria, elaborate ways of conversation of the species under extinction, study of the commercial species of ichtyofauna and monitoring of fishing.
An important project has been prepared / designed at the Department: “Study of the Disease of Colchis Box (Buxuscolchicapojark), Area Identification and Prevention Measures”. 6 researchers of the scientific direction will participate in the project implementation, including 3 from biodiversity and 3 – from phytopathology. Modern methods of research will be used (PCR).
Buxuscolchica is a Colchis-Lazian endemic species of international conservation significance. It is included into the IUCN Red list of threatened species as well as Georgian Red Book. It represents one of the main species for creation of evergreen sub-forests in the relict forests of Western Georgia as well as throughout the Caucasus. Unfortunately, the vastly spread disease of the box plant in Europe – “The Box Burn” - has been discovered on Colchis Box since 2010, taking an epidemic form and causing massive fading. The accomplishment of the project will enable us to identify the places of this dangerous disease and elaborate its preventive measures.