Balkan 2014

Beautiful Montenegro: on the way from Nikšić to Trebinje

As far as Pholcidae are concerened, Europe is certainly not a center of diversity, but there are a few interesting species around the Mediterranean. This is particularly true of the eastern Mediterranean, where the genera Hoplopholcus and Stygopholcus have their center of distribution. In May 2014 I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, mainly to collect Stygopholcus for molecular work.

One species or two? Stygopholcus specimens from
Vjetrenica pećina (left) and Pavlova pećina (right), both Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Two nominal species and one subspecies occur in the area, but their taxonomy is confused due inconsistencies with type localities among previous authors. In order to solve this puzzle we visited all three type localities, Ilijina pećina and Pavlova pećina near Trebinje, Studenačka pećina near Nikšić, and Pećina u Ivici near Zavala. Stygopholcus was common in all of them, but to our surprise is was even ubiquitous in the forests around the caves, in crevices and under stones.

I am most thankful to Marjan Komnenov for his help during the preparation of this trip and for his invaluable help in locating the caves, some of which proved extremely difficult to find.

Dubrovnik, the pearl at the Adriatic Sea, seemingly fully recovered from the Yugoslavia war.