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The Extremely Rare Zeus Olympius Observed in Kosovo

Posted on June 25, 2018 at 5:20 AM

In the course of springtime of 2018, fungi research was conducted in Kosovo mountains, and this time the focus was on the area with undisturbed natural forest of Bosnian pine (Pinus leucodermis). Our goal was hunting for certain distinctive species connected to this Balkan endemic pine. The greatest find was the cup-fungus Zeus olympius, known only from the type locality in Greece (Mount Olympus) and Bulgaria. Thus, ours is only its third locality in the world. The species was observed only in Prevalla (Sharr Mt National Park), at approximately 1,600 meters of elevation. The fruiting bodies grow scattered or in small groups on dead portions of twigs of Bosnian pine that are still living towards their base. The species is part of the Global Fungal Red List Initiative, where it is considered as "potentially Critically Endangered". The identified population to date is very small, and the more frequent forest fires as a consequence of climate change constitute a real threat. Our data has already been made available to the Global Fungal Red List Initiative.  All project-related documentation is available in the science and conservation section of this website.

The fungus was found and determined by a team led by Prof. Mitko Karadelev from the Faculty of Natural Science in Skopje, within the trailblazing project ''Fungi of Kosovo: Establishing Fungi Checklist and Preliminary Red List and Proposing Important Fungal Areas'' (1 March 2017 - 31 August 2018), funded by the Rufford Foundation.

This important find has garnered broad media attention in Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia, one of them being National Geographic Serbia.


Photo credit: Mitko Karadelev.



Categories: Fungi of Kosovo