Biogeography of the high mountain Lepidoptera in the Balkan Peninsula

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Balkanic high mountains represent nearly all types of European vertical zonation. The elevation and vegetation character of the timberline and allied vegetation types (scrubs, tall vs short, closed vs. open rupicolous swards) but also the edaphic traits, etc. considerably influence the biogeographical composition of butterfly and moth assemblages. The habitats of the high elevations are populated by several types of mountain species. They belong to five main biogeographical groups: (i) boreo-montane ("Siberian") species, often represented by isolated, partly differentiated populations mostly in the coniferous forests zones; (ii) arctic-alpine (in majority Eurasiatic!) species represented by isolated, most often taxonomically differentiated populations in alpine zones of highest Balkanic mountains; (iii) alpine (nearly exclusively European!) species represented by isolated, mostly taxonomically differentiated populations in subalpine-alpine zones of Balkanic mountains; (iv) Balkanic-oreal species often with isolated populations (subspecies) also in the Southern or Southwestern Alps and Massif Central, in special cases also Appenines and/or in Southern and Eastern Carpathians, as well (v) oro-Mediterranean-xeromontane species occurring in the southern Balkanic mountains, being either endemic or represented by differentiated subspecies of western Asiatic species. The most typical biogeographical patterns in butterflies and macro-moths are as follows: (i) close connections of the western Balcanic (Dinaric) populations of alpine and arctic-alpine species with southeastern Alpine ones; (ii) close connections of the eastern Balcanic (Thracian) populations of alpine and arctic-alpine species with southern Carpathian ones; (iii) the "Central Balcanic split" in taxonomic subdivision of several alpine and arctic-alpine species; (iv) the southern limit of distribution of boreo-montane, arctic-alpine and alpine species agrees with the "Adamovic-line", i.e. the southern limit of the alpine type of vertical zonation of vegetation; (v) the northern limit of oro-Mediterranean xeromontane species also well agrees with this important line, since these species are connected with the oro-Mediterranean type of vegetation (partly by food plant specialisations, see: endemic Polyommatina or by rupicolous habitats, as some Noctuinae).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-168
Number of pages29
JournalEcologica Montenegrina
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Adamovic-line
  • Alpine
  • Arctic-alpine
  • Balkanic oreal
  • Boreo-montane
  • Central Balkanic split
  • Timberline
  • Vertical zonation
  • Xeromontane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science
  • Insect Science

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