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