Plitvice Lakes - Fauna:
When we mention the animal world of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the first animal that comes to mind is its trademark – the brown bear. However, the Park’s highly diverse fauna is far greater and more valuable than the “fame” of its most attractive representative.
Ever since the Plitvice Lakes area first aroused scientific interest, the presence of many animal species has been proved and documented. Most of the invertebrates have been studied within the scope of limnological research, and by group – zooplankton, macrozoobenthos, microzoobenthos, since the aquatic habitats are of primary importance in this area. Among the lake’s frequent inhabitants are two species of crab: river and stream crab.
By their number of species, insects are the most represented in the terrestrial habitats and have sparked the interests of biologists researching the meadow and forest habitats. Deserved attention is given to a group of moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera), whose number of known species according to current research has risen to 321, of which 76 are diurnal, and 245 species are nocturnal. Researchers presume that this number constitutes only 40-50% of the potential Lepidoptera fauna. Certain habitats have been protected in the effort to preserve conditions for an undisturbed development cycle of certain important species, especially the blue butterfly of the genus Maculinea. Researchers have also explored the caddisfly group, and so far have recorded 80 species.
The number of species of certain vertebrate groups has been determined within studies conducted so far, while other groups are being studied in the scope of environmental monitoring as indicators, or separately as particularly interesting and rare species.
The features of the Plitvice Lakes and their tributaries are generally typical of trout-inhabited alpine waters. However, allochthonous populations of chub and rudd have significantly suppressed the brown trout, indigenous to these lakes. In addition, at least four more species have been proved to inhabit the waters of Lake Kozjak.
There are about twelve species of amphibians in the Plitvice National Park, which is a quite numerous vertebrate group, while reptile species are relatively few due to long winters and the thick snow cover.
The 157 bird species recorded so far is the third largest population of birds among the national parks of Croatia. Particularly interesting is the white-throated dipper – a rare bird dependent on clean aquatic habitats.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also home to 50 mammal species: dormouse, shrew, vole, hedgehog, pine marten, beech marten, wild boar, and others. Recent studies have determined 20 bat species living in different habitats, such as holes, caves, underneath tree bark, tree hollows, and so on. Particular interest is often aroused by the population of wolf, roe deer, red deer, wildcat, lynx, otter, and of course the brown bear from the beginning of our story, as the crown of the Plitvice animal kingdom.