These are the wild animals of 2020

Witness healthy soil

Every year, environmental and nature conservation associations nominate the animals of the year that they believe deserve more attention. Here are this year’s representatives and their history.

Mole (picture-alliance / C. Huetter)

Witness healthy soil

The mole is unpopular with gardeners but is under strict conservation. We should be happy when we find its hills. Because they are proof that the soil is doing well and that it is full of tiny organisms. The blind grave artist builds his sleeping, nesting, and pantries underground and likes to eat pests such as snails or white grubs.

Blackberry Zipfalter, Brombeer-Zipfelfalter, Gruener Zipfelfalter, Callophrys rubi, Green hairstreak (picture-alliance / dpa / I. Navarro)

Undemanding, and yet endangered

The blackberry or green-headed butterfly is the butterfly of the year. He loves meadows, pastures, and hedges. He is also not very particular about the food and sucks on very different flowers, such as buttercups, clovers, and hawthorn. Nevertheless, its inventory is declining significantly. The reason: some areas are used too intensively for agriculture, others too little. They grow too.


Symbol of luck and love

Turtledoves are – unlike their urban relatives – dependent on species-rich forest and field edges. Intensive agriculture, in particular, makes life difficult for them. The stocks have plummeted by almost 90 percent since 1980. Hunters also chase the little pigeons. Their endangerment is a global phenomenon because lovebirds are migratory birds. They spend the winter in Africa.

Sand lizards sit on a stone jug

Iridescent in the most beautiful green

The sand lizard males, in particular, have an enchanting appearance. In the mating season, they shimmer emerald green. They live throughout Eurasia – from England to Lake Baikal. In addition to stony edge areas of forests and fields, they also like to settle near people – on walls and in gardens. The sand lizard is considered endangered in Germany.

Spear Azurjungfer

Lover of bogs and clean water

The Azure Spear is threatened with extinction. The small dragonfly needs bogs and nutrient-poor waters. Over-fertilized landscapes, however, are not for them. This is because the dragonfly spends much of its life in the larval stage in the water.

bee leg

cake baker

Unlike most other wild bees, the floodplain thigh bee collects vegetable oils and mixes them with pollen to form an oil cake. This is more nutritious than sugar-based pollen that other bees put in their nests. Therefore, the wild bee of the year needs suitable oil plants such as loosestrife, which grows near streams and ditches. She has many relatives in the tropics.

nose fish

An unknown fish with a nose

This carp fish not only has one, but it is also even called a nose (Chondrostoma nasus). Because it is so unknown, the German anglers and divers have voted it fish of the year. The nose feeds on algae, which it eats from stones and gravel. Unfortunately, more and more spawning areas are lost to the fish because the rivers are blocked or too much sediment is introduced.

Black and blue oil beetle on a blade of grass

Caution, toxic!

The black and blue beetle has it all: the irritant cantharidin. The ancient Egyptians used it in medicine. Prepared in honey, oil beetles should increase potency. But be careful: in higher concentrations, some murderers have used it again and again as poison. The larvae of the oil beetle live parasitically from wild bee eggs and pollen. In Germany, they are on the red list.


What is that sea glow?

This blue glow in the night sea off the California coast comes from dinoflagellates. These are unicellular organisms that only occur in the sea. The German Society for Protozoology has named the animals the unicellular organisms of the year. Dinoflagellates produce a poison that can accumulate in mussels. Caution is advised when the sea turns red during the day.


Not at all posh

As a cave animal of the year, the wall louse with its elegant shell doesn’t have to hide, even if it likes to do so. It lives in pretty much all kinds of protected underground retreats worldwide. She hatches her offspring on her belly, in a water-filled breast pouch. Other related crustaceans lay their eggs in water.

Myxococcus xanthus

A social being

Myxococcus Xanthus is a prime example of social coordination. That is why the Association for General and Applied Microbiology has chosen it as the microbe of the year. The microbes hunt their victims – other bacteria – in the swarm and kill them together. The fruiting bodies that we see here consist of thousands of rod-shaped Mycococcus bacteria that communicate with each other.

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