Ĺ umava National Park


The present-day fauna composition in Šumava was formed during the post-glacial period and was originally almost entirely forest-like in character. Significant changes in the fauna species composition occurred in connection with the increasing human colonisation of the mountain range, which resulted in the arrival of species bound to open, non-forested country and also synanthropic species (closely linked to humans). In contrast, populations of certain animal species which were bound to natural localities were greatly reduced. This resulted in an altered structure and fragmentation of the species composition of the natural fauna. Some species disappeared altogether as their native biotopes were lost, but also as a result of hunting or persecution by man; this included large predators and some bird of prey and owl species. The bear and the wolf are still missing in Šumava, but the lynx has been successfully re-introduced in the 1980s. Despite regular and targeted culling, Šumava is still overpopulated with red deer, although roe deer populations are maintained at a sustainable level, partly thanks to the relatively stable population of lynx. A peculiarity of the region is the small population of European elk, which migrated from Poland some years ago and have made themselves at home on the border of the NP and PLA in the south–eastern part of the territory behind the former Iron Curtain.

From a zoogeographical viewpoint, the fauna composition of Šumava includes groups with a Holarctic or Palaearctic range, central European fauna elements including Alpine and Carpathian forms, but also Sub-Atlantic or Atlantic elements or even Pontic (Black Sea)-Mediterranean forms. Of special significance with some of the insect families are the Šumava endemic species or Šumava–Alpine species and sub-species. The fauna species composition of localities such as the peatbogs and climax mountain forests is dominated by boreomontane, boreoalpine and Arctic-Alpine species with a disjunctive range. The surviving fragments of natural forest ecosystems are of fundamental importance for the occurrence of native forest species and communities.

A significant element of the fauna of these localities is the occurrence of boreomontane and boreoalpine fauna of a relict character. Often these populations are very small and as a result of long-term isolation during the Post-Glacial period, they have formed specific subspecies.

Approximately 100 fauna species occurring on the NP territory are specially protected. The most significant zoological ecosystems found in Šumava include the following localities.

Peat bogs
The invertebrate fauna is especially significant and specific peat bog communities with many relict forms have developed. Among the model groups which have been researched in detail are the spiders (Araneida) and butterflies (Lepidoptera). A large number of tyrphobiontic and boreoalpine species are also found among the dragonflies (Odonata) and in various orders of beetles (Coleoptera). A high proportion of relict species are also found among the water bug communities (Heteroptera) which are bound to the peat bog biotope. The fauna of two-winged insects (Diptera) found here is unique. During research carried out in the 1990s many species which were unknown in the Czech Republic or in central Europe were identified. The majority of these were Arctic forms with a disjunctive range of occurrence.

Glacial cirques and glacial lakes
These cirques and lakes are a very specific biotope with numerous relict or endangered animal species, including Oreonebria castanea ssp. sumavica (Coleoptera: Carabidae) at ÄŚerné jezero lake and  Glenocorisa propinqua propinqua (Heteroptera) at Plešné jezero lake.

Boulder fields
Such localities were traditionally protected for their geological value, but up to only recently we had tended to ignore their fauna element. It has been shown that, due to the specific, microclimatic conditions, such localities are populated by Arctic invertebrate forms, as well as some cave and talus species.

Streams and rivers
The surviving populations of the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), the broad-fingered crayfish (Astacus astacus) and maybe the crayfish Astacus torrentium are of great significance. The most significant biodiversity of insects is represented by certain species of mayfly (Ephemeroptera), caddis fly (Trichoptera) and stonefly (Plecoptera). Almost all of flowing water systems in the NP belong to the trout belt, including the Upper Vltava, although the fish species composition here is modified by those species which have moved upstream from the Lipno reservoir. Stream and river bankside stands are an important biotope for a rich variety of nesting bird species. The whole of the Šumava and surrounding (Pošumaví) region has one of the most important otter (Lutra lutra) populations in the Czech Republic. The Alpine shrew (Sorex alpinus) finds its ideal biotope on the rugged natural banks of smaller streams at higher elevations.

Natural mixed forests
Important communities of terrestrial molluscs and invertebrates are found in the mixed forests. The natural mixed forests also provide an important refuge for several highly-endangered vertebrate species, including white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), Ural owl (Strix uralensis), red-breasted flycatcher (Ficedula parva), lynx (Lynx lynx), hazel hen (Bonasa bonasia) and Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii).

Natural mountain spruce forests
These are a very important ecosystem for the biodiversity of Šumava. The fauna consists of a large number of boreomontane and boreoalpine vertebrate and invertebrate species, including the ground beetles Harpalus solitaris, Leistus piceus, Trechus alpicola, Carabus arcensis (Carabidae), the grasshopper Barbitistes constrictus, the large speckled bush-cricket (Isophya pyrenaea) (Ensifera) and the satyr butterfly (Erebia euryale) (Lepidoptera). Among the vertebrates we can find Tengmalm’s owl (Aegolius funereus), pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), ring ouzel (Turdus torquatus) (Birds) and northern bat (Eptesicus nilssoni) (Mammals).

Anthropogenic forest-free areas
The existence of many typical and rare Šumava species and communities is bound to these secondary forest-free areas. The most significant localities are remnants of meadows and grazing areas, which were never damaged by intensive agricultural methods. A very specific phenomenon is the expanses of grassland which have not been agriculturally used for many years and are now spontaneously returning to a natural state, and are at various different stages of natural secondary succession. These meadows are especially significant as nesting sites for many bird species.

Artificial stillwaters
Small permanent and periodic stillwaters are fundamentally important as breeding sites for amphibians, such as smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris), Alpine newt (Triturus alpestris), common frog (Rana temporaria), common toad (Bufo bufo) and, at lower elevations around Lipno reservoir, common tree-frog (Hyla arborea), as well as some aquatic insect species. The Lipno reservoir has a special position as the home for a specific fish community and as a migration stopover for many migrating bird species, including some unusual vagrant species, which do not nest in the area.

Settlements, urban localities and former industrial sites
The remains of old mine workings and shafts are often important sites for many bat species, including those which are specially protected. On the Šumava NP territory, 17 bat species can be found, of which around 13 regularly hibernate in such underground spaces.