Arctic to Balkan

One strange feature of Europe’s nature is that some species appear in the Arctic then disappear over large stretches of the continent before reappearing again on high mountains in south and central areas!

Why does this happen? Two factors are at play. First, when Europe became extremely cold during periods of glaciation, plants and animals adapted for those conditions could move around. That means Arctic and Alpine species could pack their bags and go travelling to other regions, including to the Balkans.

When things got warm again, they became restricted to the cold, windy environments that were comfortable to them like high mountains and Arctic regions. Most other locations became inhospitable.

Then comes the second factor: Unlike North America, Europe’s high mountain ranges run from east to west, not north to south. Consequently, there is no direct connection between these mountains and the Arctic. They are isolated, so the species that got left behind in them after the thaw of the ice ages live now as if on little islands.

In the Ohrid region, at least 11 species of plants on Mount Galichica belong to the Arctic-Alpine category. They arrived here during deep ice ages thousands of years ago. Mount Jablanica on the other side of the lake has an even higher number of these glacial relicts. It is thought that the difference is due to a variance in the geology of the two mountains.

📷: Ljupco Lepi

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