In the high mountain climate belt on acid parent material (bedrocks), under the influence of mesophilic-acidophilic grass vegetation, by the process of pedogenesis, the hummus silicate soils – rankers have been formed. In the warm continental climate belt, covered by Austrian and Durmast Oak Forests, rendzinas and cinnamon soils are developed. In the cold continental climate belt, under beech forests, distric brown forest soils are present; under beech-fir forests, distric cambisols, while in beech-fir forests under limestone bedrocks, brown soils are present.
The terrain in the Western part of the Country is steep, rough, dissected by developed hydrographic network, in which the processes of linear or deep erosion are dominant. The most erosive area on the territory of National Park Mavrovo is the close watersheds of Ribnichka and Valavicharska Reka River basins. Of the River Watersheds, most erosive are: Golema Reka River and Valavicharska Reka River (Zhirovnichka Reka River and Tairovska Reka River).
Erosion processes with high category of destruction (I and II category), i.e. coefficient of erosion Z > 0.85 are recorded only in the Dolna Reka River region. Erosion processes of Category II are present in the watershed of Ribnichka (Dlaboka) Reka River. The average value of the coefficient of erosion processes for the entire territory of the Protected Area is Z = 0.31, which includes the area in Category IV, i.e. area with low erosion processes. The lowest values of erosion processes (Z = 0.14 до 0.22) are recorded in the watershed of the reservoir Mavrovsko Ezero Lake, while highest value is recorded in the close watersheds of Ribnichka and Valavicharska Reka River basins (Z=0.87).
From biogeographical point of view, the high-mountain belt of the National Park Mavrovo is inhabited by a complex of floristic and faunistic elements of Oreo-Tundral (Arcto-Mountain or Arcto-Alpine) biogeographic origin. The Oreo-Tundral Complex is represented by animal and plant species whose distribution range is restricted to the arctic and sub-arctic region and the high-mountain belt (over the forest belt) of the higher mountains, throughout Central and partly Southern Europe. The Sub-complex of Palaeo-Oreal (Palaeo-Mountain) or Relict – Mountain floristic and faunistic elements, within which are included and the glacial endemic species, is also quite well represented in the high-mountain belt of the National Park Mavrovo.
Notwithstanding the fact that on the territory of the Protected Area National Park Mavrovo, coniferous forests of taiga type (spruce and fir forests) accompanied with birch and aspen trees covers relatively small areas, the Boreal (Siberian) complex of floral and faunal elements is represented by highest level of species richness and population density compared to all other high mountains in the Republic of Macedonia.
The Complex of species of Broadleaved Arboreal origin is mostly represented by the Sub-complex of Ponto-Mediterranean (Eastern-Mediterranean) floristic and faunistic elements, which are dominating on National Level, as well as on the territory of the National Park Mavrovo. Within the Park, these species are present mainly on lower altitudes, represented by more sensitive species, while certain Mediterranean species penetrate up to elevations of 1,700 m asl, where only small number of species with wider ecological valence and distribution range are present.
The Complex of Eremial Floral and Faunal Elements are mainly consisted of the Sub-Complex of Species whose origin is from the Ponto Caspian Steppes. The distribution of these steppic faunal and floral elements is related with the grassland ecosystems and goes from the lowland grassland areas up to the high-mountain dry grassland ecosystems.
From aspect of aquatic zoogeography, the watershed of the Radika River belongs to the South Adriatic-Ionian Zoogeographic Region, which includes watersheds of the rivers in the South-western part of the Balkan Peninsula, from Montenegro in the North, to Peloponnesus to the South.
The origin of the fauna of Temporary waters is identical with the terrestrial fauna. In the aquatic biotopes on lower altitudes dominating is the Complex of Mediterranean Faunal Elements, while in the numerous temporary/semi temporary pools and ponds, including the glacial lakes on the higher altitudes, the fauna is of various zoogeographic origin, including: Siberian, Steppic, Caucasian, Arcto-Mountain and Palaeo Mountain.
Hitherto, on the territory of the National Park Mavrovo presence of 79 species of algae has been ascertained. The 79 species of algae are classified into eight Phyla, of which the highest number of species belongs to the Phylum Bacillariophyta (diatom algae) represented by 37 species, followed by the representatives of the Phylum Cyanophyta (blue-green algae) with 13 species, the Phylum Charophyta (charophyte algae) represented by 12 species, the Phylum Chlorophyta (green algae) with nine (9) species, the Phylum Heterokontophyta (heterokont algae) with 4 species, the Phylum Dinophyta (fire algae) with 2 species, while each of the phyla Rhodophyta (red algae) and Euglenophyta (Euglenids) are represented by one species. Most of the ascertained species of algae are the first records for the territory of the National Park Mavrovo. Some of them, like the heterocont alga Tribonema intermixtum and the charophyte alga Nitella capillaris are the first records for the whole territory of Macedonia. Both species are recorded in a small aquatic biotope on the locality Toni Voda. The phytoplankton of the reservoir Mavrovsko Ezero Lake shows a dominancy of only four species of algae, all of which are biological indicators for higher levels of eutrophication.
During the field investigations of fungi conducted within the project “Environmental protection, economic development and promotion of sustainable eco-tourism in the National Park Mavrovo”, the total number of fungi species on the territory of the National Park has been encircled to 661 species, of which 558 species belong to the Phylum Basidiomycota (mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns), 61 species to the Phylum Ascomycota (Sac fungi), 11 species to the Phylum Myxomycota (slime molds) and one species to the Phylum Zygomycota (zygote fungi). Of the total number of fungi ascertained within the territory of the National Park Mavrovo, 267 species have been recorded in beech forests, 128 species in oak forests, 103 species in fir forests, 63 species in spruce forests, 47 species in various forest communities that are developing along the rivers and streams and 51 species in pine plantations. Outside forested areas, 38 species have been recorded on high mountain pastures, as well as 46 species in meadows and along the forest edges. About 20 species of high-quality edible fungi are frequently present within the territory of the Park, which represents a significant part of biological resources in the Country.
For the territory of National Park Mavrovo, presence of 151 species of lichens has been ascertained. From taxonomic point of view, most of the species (145) are included in the Class Lecanoro-mycetes, while only six (6) species are included in the Class Eurotiomycetes.
The lignicolous lichens are represented by 67 species, recorded on branches and trunks (stems), mostly in beech and oak forest communities. The petricolous lichens are represented by 49 species, recorded on limestone and silicate rocks, 25 species of which are present exclusively on limestone rocks, 10 species exclusively on silicate rocks, while the rest of 14 species are present on both limestone and silicate rocks.
The terricolous lichens are represented by 35 species, which are developing on soil, sand, forest litter and plant debris.
Three species of commercial lichens in large quantities are developing within the territory of the National Park, which represent a significant part of biological resources of the Country. Those are the oak lichen (Evernia prunastri), the trunk lichen (Pseudevernia furfuracea) and the Icelandic lichen (Cetraria islandica). All three species are found in large quantities, in particular in oak and beech forests. The oak and the trunk lichen are lignicolous, growing on branches and trunks of various deciduous and coniferous tree species, while the Icelandic lichen is a terricolous species, developing on soil substrates.
If we take into consideration the fact that the running waters in the National Park Mavrovo are represented by the upper and the middlemost flow of the Radika River and its tributaries, i.e. mountain rivers and streams with rapid flow, low water temperature and high level of oxygen saturation, which are natural habitats for salmonid fishes (trout), than it is not surprisingly the presence of four trout species.
All of the three native species of trout: Balkan Brook Trout (Salmo farioides), Montenegro Trout (Salmo montenegrinus) and Glavatitsa (Salmo dentex) are Western-Balkan endemics, i.e. with distribution range restricted to the East-Adriatic watershed.
AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES
General characteristic of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the National Park Mavrovo is the high level of species diversity. Within the territory of the Park, presence of 11 species of Amphibians has been ascertained, which is 73.3% of the total number of species on National Level, represented by 15 species. Of the Reptiles, 24 species have been ascertained, which is 75% of the total number of Reptiles on National Level, represented by 32 species. Three species of Amphibians, as well as five species of Reptiles are Balkan endemic species.
During the field investigations within the frames of this Project, presence of 129 species of birds has been confirmed, 68 species of which are new records for the ornithofauna of the National Park Mavrovo. The presence of the species Guldenstadt’s Redstart (Phoenicurus erithrogaster) within the territory of the Park is the first record of this species for the ornithofauna of Macedonia.
Of the total number of species recorded for the territory of the Park, 19 species are included on the list of Annex I of the EU Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC). Two species of birds are included in the SPEC1 Category, while another seven species of birds are included in the SPEC2 Category. Concerning the European Threat Status (ETS) of the populations of bird’s species, 32 species of birds recorded in the Park are included into one of the three categories of threatened species (V, R, and D).
The total number of hitherto recorded species of mammals for the territory of the Park is encircled to 50 species, which is 59.5% of the total number of mammal species recorded on National Level, represented by 84 species. Among them, five species of mammals are ascertained as Balkan endemic species. Besides the marked acceleration in environmental degradation on National Level, the Protected Area National Park Mavrovo is outstanding in the degree to which forest ecosystems have survived, even in a modified state, with the largest remaining populations of large mammals: Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Balkan Lynx (Lynx lynx martinoi), Wolf (Canis lupus) and Balkan Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica).
A large portion of the Protected Area National Park Mavrovo is covered by forest ecosystems, encompassing an area of 33,179.15 ha*, which is 45.82% of the total area of the Park. The analysis of the structure and covering of various forest types has shown that the broadleaved woodlands are dominant, encompassing 70.72% of the total area under forests, followed by mixed forests with 18.90%, scrublands with 9.37%, coniferous forests with 0.96%, and forest plantations with 0.05%.
The mountain ecosystems with 35,604 ha, or 49.17% occupy the largest area of the Park, developing on elevations from 1,800 to 2,764 m asl. The average annual air temperature in this belt ranges from 0°C to -4°C, while the average annual sum of precipitations is 1,250 mm. The aquatic ecosystems encompass an area of 1,704 ha, or 2.35% of the total area of the Park. The reservoir Mavrovsko Ezero Lake encompasses 75% of the total aquatic surface in the Park; 10.3% belong to the planned future reservoir Lukovo Pole; 1.1% to the planned future reservoir Boshkov Most; 13.1% of the aquatic surface is covered by the rivers and streams. Summarized, it is 99.5% of the total aquatic surface of the Park. The remainders 0.5% belong to aquatic surfaces covered by glacial lakes and temporary pools.
The vegetation of the National Park Mavrovo is represented by 41 plant communities, of which: 23 forest communities, three (3) meadow plant communities and 13 communities of high-mountain vegetation.
Forest ecosystems are represented by 25 forest communities, of which: four (4) coastal floodplain forest communities, 15 typical forest communities in the belt of oak and the belt of beech forests, and six (6) forest communities of coppice forests. Meadow plant communities within the territory of the Park are represented by three (3) plant communities, of which two (2) are lowland meadow plant communities and one (1) is mountain to subalpine meadow plant community. Almost 50% of the Park area (356 km2) is covered by high-mountain vegetation. The high-mountain vegetation is composed of 13 clearly defined plant communities. The plant species of high-mountain vegetation are represented by various floral elements, among which, the autochthonous tertiary floral elements are most significant.
In accordance with the natural features and dominant elements, the following four (4) landscape types on the territory of the Park have been ascertained: Riverside, Forest, High-mountain, and Mavrovo Landscape as a separate landscape type. On the basis of their visual and aesthetic features, landscapes of outstanding natural beauty and landscapes of special scenic quality have been identified. Within the category Landscapes of outstanding natural beauty, 12 landscapes are included, while in the category Landscapes of special scenic quality, 11 landscapes are included.