Diversity of Oligochaeta Fauna in the High-Mountain Lakes of Šar-Planina Mountain

Nebojša V. Živić1, Branko M. Miljanović2, Ana D. Atanacković3 and Momir M. Paunović3



1 University of Kosovska Mitrovica, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, Serbia

2 University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, Serbia

3 University of Belgrade, Institute for Biological Research "Sinisa Stankovic", Bulevar Despota Stefana 142, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia. Corresponding author: Ana Atanacković, Phone: +38111 2078369, E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




Initial investigations of the high-mountain lakes of Mt. Šar-planina were performed from 1996 to 1997, with the aim of studying the distribution and diversity of Oligochaeta fauna. These studies included 9 glacial lakes at an altitude ranging from 1,560 m to 2,260 m. Fourteen taxa, belonging to 12 genera and 4 families were recorded. The greatest number of taxa of Oligochaeta fauna was recorded at the Gornje (10 taxa) and Donje Tupankamensko Lakes (7 taxa). The species Nais communis, Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri and Lumbriculus variegatus were detected in six out of the nine lakes examined. The greatest number of collected specimens belonged to the species Stylodrilus lemani in the peat of Šištevačko Lake. The other species were represented by only 2-5 individuals in the lakes where they were recorded. After processing the samples, we concluded that the high-mountain lakes of Mt. Šar-planina are characterized by low diversity and low abundance of Oligochaeta fauna.

Keywords: high-mountain lakes; Oligochaeta; Mt. Šar-planina




The Oligochaeta (Annelida) fauna of high-mountain aquatic ecosystems has been studied by many limnologists (Dumnicka, 1994; Dumnicka and Boggero, 2007; Lafont and Florian, 2001; Lencioni and Maiolini, 2002; Yildiz et al., 2005; Krno et al., 2006; Kownacki et al., 2000). Examinations of the macrozoobenthos of the Đeravica Lakes at Mt. Prokletije by Živić et al. (1996) were the first zoological studies of the high-mountain lakes in Kosovo and Metohija. Ensuing studies that included the high-mountain natural lakes of Mt. Šar-planina were undertaken in order to determine the distribution and diversity of Oligochaeta fauna in these water bodies.

Mt. Šar-planina belongs to the mountain massifs of the Balkan Peninsula which are very rich in freshwater systems consisting of numerous springs, streams and rivers. One particularly interesting feature is the existence of many natural high-altitude lakes. There are 90 described natural lakes at Mt. Šar-planina, which includes 70 glacial and 20 nivational lakes (Ćukić, 1983). From a biological standpoint, these lakes belong to a very poorly studied group of landlocked aquatic ecosystems. Algological studies that were undertaken at the lakes of Sirinićka Župa (Urošević, 1994) were the first biological studies of any of Mt. Šar-planina's lakes. Subsequent research included other lakes and watercourses of this mountain (Urošević, 1997a, b, c; Protić and Živić, 2013). Ranđelović et al. (1997) have determined that the peat associations of the high-mountain lakes of Mt. Šar-planina include many endemic species with a relict character of vegetation.


Material and Methods

This hydrobiological study of high-mountain aquatic ecosystems was performed in one area of Mt. Šar-Planina as summer expeditions during 28 August - 5 September 1996, and 25-30 August 1997. The studies included nine glacial lakes at altitudes ranging from 1,560 m to 2,260m (Fig.1). The following lakes were examined:

1. The lake on Šištevačka Mt. lying to the north-west (42°55'30'' N, 20°36'30'' E) of the Mt. Šar-planina massif. The lake is located at the south-eastern side of Šištevačka Mt., in its foothills, 1,720 m above sea level. The lake is 25 m long, 15 m wide and its maximal depth is about 30 cm. There are no feeding rivers or streams, and the lake receives its water from thawed snow. The bottom of the lake is covered in peat.

At the main spring-fed stream of the Restelica River there are two lakes on a slight slope, separated by a 60 m wide strip of land (41°54'50'' N, 20°45'00'' E).



Figure 1: The position of Mountain Šar-planina and the studied lakes (UTM 10 x 10 km).


2. Donje Tupankamensko Lake which is 30 m below the lake at Šištevačka Mt. positioned at an altitude of 1,560 m above sea level (41°54'33'' N, 20°43'27'' E). The lake is 20.5 m long, 20.7 m wide and 1 m deep; its circumference is about 29 m.

3. Gornje Tupankamensko Lake which is situated at an altitude of 1,590 m above sea level (41°54'34'' N, 20°43'74'' E). The lake is 15 m long, 7 m wide, and its maximal depth is about 50 cm. It obtains its water from thawed snow and small springs.

At the upland plane of Šutman, which lies to the west from the mountain massif Rudoke, four glacial lakes with macrophyte vegetation, notably mosses that cover the muddy bottom with a layer of peat, were studied. These are:

4. Malo Šutmansko Lake which is situated at an altitude of 2 030 m (41°55'05'' N, 20°43'52'' E). The lake is 50 m long, 20 m wide, with a depth of about 50 cm;

5. Veliko Šutmansko Lake is situated 2,080 m above sea level (41°55'15'' N, 20°42'20'' E). The lake is 200 m long and 90 m wide; the length of the coastline is 529 m; the coastline quotient is 1.3 and its surface area is 11,940 m2; the lake is about 1 m deep and the maximum temperature is 18°C.

6. Ginivodno Lake is found at an altitude of 2,260 m (41°54'30'' N, 20°43'45'' E). It is comprised of three interconnected small lakes which obtain their waters from thawed snow and many small springs (including two sublacustrine ones). Water leaves the lakes through two underground channels.

7. Veljinbeško Lake is situated at the Veljin Beg plateau at an altitude of 2,085 m (41°53'50'' N, 20°43'55'' E). This lake is not fed by any rivers but gets its water from thawing snow. At certain places, the lake demonstrates an acid water reaction of pH 3.5 due to peat deposits (Urošević, 1997a).

Two lakes at the Gornji Def plateau in the Donja Vraca valley were studied. These are:

8. Srednje Defsko Lake which lies at an altitude of 2,100 m. (41°53'15'' N, 20°43'10'' E). It is roughly circular in shape, 100 m long, 80 m wide and about 50 cm deep, and

9. Gornje Defsko Lake which lies at an altitude of 2,117 m (41°52'51'' N, 20°43'03'' E). This lake is 120 m long, 60 m wide and about 50 cm deep.

Due to the nature of lacustrine substrates, the samples for quantitative analysis were collected by different methods, using Surber's net, by hand picking, bottom scraping, etc. All obtained samples were conserved in 4% formaldehyde. The Oligochaeta specimens were later transferred to 70% ethanol. Identification of specimens was performed using the following determination keys: Brinkhurst and Jamieson (1971), Hrabĕ (1981) and Timm (1999). The taxonomy applied herein adheres to Fauna Europea (2011) and Timm (2012).

The work discusses the main ecological features of the recorded communities with respect to their qualitative and quantitative composition. In order to evaluate differences between the investigated lakes, basic faunistic features of the oligochaete assemblages were analysed. The autecological data were taken from Aqem (2002) and Hörner et al. (2002), while the Asterics software 3.1.1. (Aqem, 2002) was used for calculating relationships between the functional groups within the community, including the characterisation of the species with regard to saprobic preference, zonation and substrate type, as well as, Diversity index H' (Shannon, 1948) and Evenness index E (Pielou, 1977).

Additionally, the faunistic similarity of the investigated lakes was determined according to Jaccard Index of Similarity (Jaccard, 1901).