Ecologic Relations and Processes

Although floristic and fauna studies have been performed in the territory of the park, a lot of ecological relations are still little known. Deeper studies are required pertaining to the succession of vegetation on rocky areas, the evolution of vegetation in different quarry stages, changes in grassland vegetation, vegetation succession in exploited forests, etc. Studies are also needed on the relationships between the various components of ecosystems and the environmental factors which can create imbalances in the area.

The Măcin Mountains are also unique and representative at least at national level. Thus, they are an original synthesis of all geologic eras, each with its own biogeographic specificity. This is enhanced by the interference in this area of the Southern limit of Central-European and Caucasian species, as well as the Western limit of Asian species. These mountains are in the same time the Northern limit of the sub-Mediterranean part of the Balkan Peninsula, being a distinct unit of the Macedonian-Thracian floristic province.

Their nationally representative character is offered by the presence of 3 layers of characteristic vegetation, especially for the Dobrogean Plateau, such as Balkan mesophilic forests, sub-Mediterranean xerothermal forests and the forest-steppe with sub-Mediterranean forests.

Herbaceous vegetation is especially representative for the Black Sea steppe, spread over Romania on small and fragmented areas, mostly in Dobrogea. Thus, the association Agropyretum cristatae is even now only mentioned in this region.

Because of the arid climate, the vegetation of humid areas is spread on small surfaces. The presence of the endangered species LythrumL thymifolia increases the national value of some of these associations. The Măcin Mountains represent a „genetic reservoir” for the distinguished species of the “dowry” of Romanian vegetal diversity, such as: Coridalys x dobrogensis, Euphorbia macinensis and Herniaria glabra var. dobrogensis.

On the territory of a country the network of protected areas must be projected as to cover the whole heterogeneity of the ecological structure of the country so that it becomes the frame network of the whole national natural and semi-natural ecosystems mosaic. Given the fact that inside the perimeter of the Măcin Mountains National Park there are 50% of the national vegetal taxa, and it is also part of the most important migration corridor in Romania and even Europe, it is very important for us to understand which are the ecological processes which take place at the ecosystem level, regional ecosystem complex level, and in the interference and energy budgets between the ones inside and outside the park limits. It is wrong to think that a long term sustainable conservation can be achieved with a management plan looking only at the diversity within the park. This kind of “insular” protection creates a flow of diversity from within the park to the exterior areas in population distribution, and makes diversity entry poorer and poorer until the extinction of locally, nationally or eco-regionally important species. It is important that at the same time with the adoption of a management plan, the external control factors are screened in the ecotonal areas situated in the limits of the national park. In these interface area active processes are taking place which are much more sensitive to the action of anthropogenic control factors, and these areas are the habitats of many vulnerable or endangered species within the Măcin Mountains National Park (microevolution areas): the ground squirrel, stone marten, Saker Falcon, and the Wheatear.

In the ecotonal areas (sympatric areas) permanent monitoring areas will be established so as to measure the functional and structural parameters of the ecosystems of the park as well as its neighboring areas. This kind of monitoring will check the fluctuations of exogenous and endogenous control factors in order to fire the alarm when the parameter changes surpass the natural balancing capacity of these ecosystems. Also a special importance is given to the distribution mode of a population within the biotope: random, grouped or symmetric.

Another essential aspect in the study of ecological processes with the park perimeter is the study of sequences pertaining to the diversity level of the park and its limit regarding fauna but especially floristic diversity. Most of the time it is argued that species redundancy is enough in order to withstand increasingly higher pressure on the behalf of the ecosystem, ignoring the fact that over a certain degree of diversity loss, the self-regulation capacity of the ecosystem is irreversibly lost. The sequence of associations will be permanently monitored in the interference areas between “steppe-like lawns” and “forest-steppe forests”, as most of the time the opinion of specialists is divided regarding the causes of natural sequences within and between the two types of ecosystem. Thus long-term observations are established which can confirm or infirm the evolution of the two types of ecosystems, their reciprocal sequence with or without anthropogenic influences and the type of stage each of them represent in relation to the “relative climax” status. A special feature to be monitored is the vegetal association dynamics in the glades of the sustainable development zone, where until the establishment of the park there were anthropogenic influences, most notably the mowing in the purpose of obtaining feedingstuff.

Thus, in these anthropogenic clearings, even though small in number, certain material, energy and information channels have become specialized. Because of this reason, nonintervention might lead to the elimination of certain low-height important species. That is why complete taxa inventories will take place in these areas, afterwards mowing interventions will be done only on witness squares representing 10% of the surface of the clearing. The results would lead to viable, optimal solutions from an ecological standpoint.

Along with the ban of hunting there would be an unhindered growth and evolution of the fauna food chains from within and from the neighboring areas of the park. Evaluations will be made based on means specific to each group of species so as to notice immediately any type of major imbalance which could lead to species extinction. A natural ecosystem has an evolution towards the optimum, while anthropogenic systems are most of the time directed towards the maximum in the detriment of the natural ones. Because of this the presence of top predators in a certain number is essential for the health status and normal evolution of the ecosystem and must no longer be seen as a disturbing presence, as it was before the establishment of the park. Considering that the species of the fauna component do not know the “borders” of the park, a comparative analysis is required as a result of internal evaluations compared with neighboring areas evaluations where hunting is performed. In these areas subsequent comparative fauna observations should be performed taking into account the ratio of species over the surface and the size of each population as they exist within the park (where there is natural selection).

The Măcin Mountains National Park is a sanctuary of diversity where one can certainly study intraspecific and interspecific relations, natural sequences and speciation that can not be found in any area of our country. Of great importance in the study of information and material exchange between the complementary components of Trophic modules of biodiversity are two areas with different protection regimes: the Pircopan area of the Măcin Mountains National Park and the Lacul Sărat area under the management of Măcin’s Local Council (LC). Together with the Măcin LC and the local community the possibility of the integrated management of the two areas will be analyzed, by the establishment of an ecological corridor between the two biodiversity reservoirs, together with their inclusion in common awareness and protection programs. The Salty (Sărat) Lake increases the self-regulation capacity of the neighboring ecosystems through its swampy and surface water ecosystem. This includes the territory of the Măcin National Park, along with complementary functional impact on the priority habitats in the park, revealing a unique landscaping potential.