The Cave Fauna in Serbia: Origin, Historical Development, and Diversification

Bozidar Curcic


    In conclusion, the Serbian karst is inhabited by a great number of endemic and relict cave animals pertaining to the Paleo-Mediterranean, Laurasian, Paleo-Aegean, and South- or North-Aegean (or Proto-Balkan) phyletic series (Furon R., 1950, 1959). The major causes of the extraordinary variety of the troglobitic fauna of this region include: (I) the varied epigean fauna populating the Proto-Balkans in the remote past; (II) continuity of continental phases in different areas of the Balkans; (III) the presence of mighty limestone beds and subsequent evolution of the underground karst relief; (IV) succession of suitable climatic conditions favoring the colonization of subterranean habitats; and (V) divergent differentiation of different lower and higher taxa in numerous isolated niches underground.
    Study of cave inhabitants of the Serbian karst has offered further proofs of their great ages and different origins. These species and genera represent the last vestiges of an old fauna, which found shelter in the underground domain of the Balkans and its adjoining regions.
    Apart from this, it is apparent that specific aspects of geomorphological and climatic events in the Balkans, together with peculiarities of historical development of the fauna there, have caused the Peninsula to become the main center of dispersion and colonization of species and groups of species, i. e., the main source for the revitalization and genesis of biological diversity, not just in the Mediterranean region, but throughout all of Southeast Europe.