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Biodiversity Print

BIODIVERSITY





Fungi



Aukštaitija National Park is very rich in fungi – there are 633 species. 133 species of them are low fungi including 14 species which were found the first time in Lithuania. The higher fungi are divided into two groups: polypores and mushrooms. Polypores can be easily distinguished by their typically hard exterior and their usual growth on wood. 73 species of polypores were found in the park. Mushrooms have a fleshy body consisting of a stipe and a cap, grow on the ground and usually they last only for few days. 280 species of mushrooms are known in the park. 112 species of them are edible. There are several species of boletus - although people often don’t group them – The King Bolete (Boletus edulis), The Red Aspen Bolete (Leccinum aurantiacum) and Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum), as well as 3 species of slippery, 10 species of russula, 18 species of mycena, 12 species of lepista and 17 species of lactarius. There are 9 species of amanita. One of them - The Death Cap (Amanita phalloydes) – is deadly poisonous.
Water fungi make a separate group. These microscopic organisms decompose tree leaves and twigs fallen into water as well as other organic waste. There are 40 species of water fungi in park’s waters.
Lichens are the fourth group. When fungi and green algae live in symbiosis, they make one organism called lichens. Usually they grow on the least fertile substrates: stones, dry wood or bark of old trees and very poor soil. The most species of lichens in the park were found on oak trees – 17 species, and only 12 on poplar trees. 90 species of lichens were registered in the park in total.
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Flora

Ghost orchid Lady's Slipper Daisyleaf Grape Fern Pasqueflower Autumn crocus
Forests cover 70% of park’s area, mostly pine (Pinus sylvestris) stands. They are 60 years old in average, though in Ažvinčiai Wood there are some pine stands older than 200 years. The largest woods are Ažvinčiai Wood (4603 ha) and Minčia Wood (2964 ha)
Diversity of the relief causes variety of flora complexes, though 3 of them are dominant: forest, water (lakes, marshes and bogs) and meadow. Flora of the Aukštaitija National Park consists of more than 800 species of vascular plants, which represent 96 families, 41 species of liverworts and 107 species of mosses. 60 species of vascular plants, 2 of liverworts and 7 species of mosses are included to the Red Data Book. The Red List includes the rarest species of Lithuania such as ghost orchid (Epipogium aphylum), daisy-leaved grape fern and rattlesnake fern (Botrychium matricariifolium, B.Virginianum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), flecked marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza cruenta) and dwarf birch (Betula nana).
ANP protects not only single species, but their habitats. Large part of the park’s area was suggested to include into the European network of protected natural habitats – NATURA 2000.

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Fauna

Spurge Hawk-moth Boros Schneideri
Due to a great variety of insects, they aren’t that well studied as vertebrates. Beetles, butterflies, ichneumon flies and bees are the most examined, whereas wasps, ants, sawflies, flies, bugs and lower insects in Aukštaitija National Park haven’t been studied yet.
About 650 beetle species which represent 56 families were found in the park. The most abundant are weevils – about 110 species, rove beetles, ground beetles, leaf beetles and longhorn beetles – 84, 66, 60 and 33 species correspondingly. Some beetles are relicts from the past, when the climate was colder and taiga forest dominated. These beetles are Neomidia haemorrhoidalis, Boros Schneideri and Pachyta lamed. These species are very rare in Lithuania and in a whole Europe. They need large old-growth forest areas. Some species are used to live in hard frost, in tundra forest zone. These are Pogonocherus fasciculatus, Judolia sexmaculata, several species of sawyer (Monochamus) beetles and pine longhorn beetle (Asemum striatum). Relicts of the warm steppe climate period are golden-bloomed grey longhorn (Agaphantia villosoviridescens), Phytoecia nigripes, Ph. virgula and Ph. nigricornis. Eight species from Lithuanian Red Data Book were found in the park: Carabus coriaceus, C.nitens, European great diving beetle (Dytiscus latissimus), Ceruchus chrysomelinus, Peltis grossa, sawing support beetle (Prionus coriarius), dune tiger beetle (Cicindela maritima) and Boros schneideri.
More than 40 species of dragonflies were found in the park. They need water pools to breed, therefore smallest dragonflies - demoiselles and damselflies – stay near by. Bigger and stronger hawkers and chasers can be observed far from water, even in a dry forest meadow. These are predaceous insects. Most of dragonfly species are abundant and stay active till late autumn. Only three rare dragonfly species live in the park – emperor dragonfly and lesser emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator, A.parthenope) and golden-ringed dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii). These species are included into Red Data Book.
World of bees is very diverse, though very little explored. The rarest is Megachile lapponica. This leaf-cutting bee is a relict of boreal climate and Ažvinčiai Wood is the only habitat in Lithuania.
Moths are divided into two groups. Micro-moths aren’t very colourful and due to their small size are very little explored. Macro-moths are the most beautiful and noticeable. According to the activity time they are divided into night moths and butterflies. Butterflies are active in a daylight. About 700 moth species were registered in the park, including 85 species of butterflies. Moths of pine forest are dominating, because forest stands covers the biggest part of the park area. The endemic species of deciduous and mixed forest are rather rare. The new Noctuidae species for the Lithuania Eucarta virgo was found in Ginučiai Oakwood in 2002. Epirrhoe tartuensis, found in the same oak wood thirty years ago, was a new species for Lithuania as well. Now it is included into Red Data Book. But the most exciting was a discovery of a brown tiger moth (Pericallia matronula) in Rūgšteliškis. This moth haven’t been seen in Lithuania for more than a half of a century.
Big collection of butterflies is presented for park visitors in the Palūšė Visitor Centre.
Lakes of Aukštaitija National Park are home for 35 fish species, which represent 13 families. Common bream (Abramis brama), white bream (Blicca bjoerkna), roach (Rutilus rutilus), perch (Perca fluviatilis), pike (Esox lucius) and common bleak (Alburnus alburnus) can be found almost everywhere. The European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) and European cisco (Coregonus albula) live in deepest lakes, while tench (Tinca tinca) and redeye (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) like warm and steady water pools. Orfes (Leuciscus idus), chubs (Leuciscus cephalus), graylings (Thymallus thymallus) and trout (Salmo trutta) live in rivers and channel lakes. The living monument for ichthyofauna is the European smelt (Osmerus eperlanus). This Ice age relict is inhabitant of Lithuanian lakes since it was covered by the glacial. The largest smelts and ciscoes were caught in Lake Tauragnas. The vimba fish (Vimba vimba) was caught at the source of the Žeimena River in 2003. However, it wasn’t a bigger sensation than 10 kg Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) caught in Lake Žeimenis in 2000. The aboriginal predator fish species are perch (Perca fluviatilis), pike (Esox lucius), burbot (Lota lota) and wels catfish (Silurus glanis). Sander (Stizostedion lucioperca) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) have been introduced.
Viper
The most primitive amphibians are newts. The smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) is rather common, unlike the crested newt (Triturus cristatus) which is included into The Red Data Book. There are 3 species of frogs. The pool frog (Rana lessonae) is rather common in ponds and warm lake lagoons. Very similar, but bigger in size lake (marsh) frog (Rana ridibunda) live in lakes. The moor frog (Rana arvalis) and common (grass) frog (Rana temporaria) can be seen as in meadows as in a forest. The common spade foot (Pelobates fuscus) was observed during the spawning in little ponds of Kaltanėnai Forest, though it is a very rare and mysterious amphibian. Common toad (Bufo bufo) is very common, but the green toad (Bufo viridis) and the natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) are rare and observed only in vicinity of Ginučiai. The only poisonous snake is common adder (viper) (Vipera berus). Grass snake (Natrix natrix) quite often can be observed near rivers Kiauna and Būka. Viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara) and sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) are still common in the park. Another representative of the lizard family, the slow-worm (Anguis fragilis), lives in the park also. People call it a copper snake because of its shining colour. However, this animal has nothing in common with snakes.

Osprey Gavia Arctica Grus Grus Black Stork
At present 209 bird species are spotted in the park. 151 species of them stay here for breeding. 15 more species were observed during a breeding period, though their nests weren’t find. About 40 bird species are passing the park during migration. The biggest diversity is among sparrows (Passeriformes) – 86 species. A little bit smaller orders are Charadriiformes, Aanseriformes, Accipitriformes and Falconiformes – 31, 24 and 19 species correspondingly. There are 8 species of woodpeckers and 6 species of owls.
The biggest treasure and something to be proud of are 51 bird species from the Red Data Book. 45 species are protected at European level. Black-throated divers (Gavia arctica), black-necked grebes (Podiceps nigricollis), black storks (Ciconia nigra), ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), lesser spotted eagles (Aquila pomarina), merlins (Falco columbarius), honey buzzards (Pernis apivorus), stock doves (Columba oenas), capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus), little gulls (Larus minutus), ruffs (Philomachus pugnax), great snipes (Gallinago media), Tengmalm’s owls (Aegolius funereus), pygmy owls (Glaucidium passerinum) and three-toed woodpeckers (Picoides tridactylus) breed here constantly. Although white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), Montagu’s harriers (Circus pygargus), whiskered terns (Chlidonias hybridus), white-winged black terns (Chlidonias leucopterus), gadwalls (Anas strepera), dunlins (Calidris alpina), spotted redshanks (Tringa erythropus) and red-necked phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) do not breed in the park, but they find a shelter here during the season as well.
Thousands of migrating geese and ducks - especially widgeons (Anas penelope) – stops here to rest and feed. True habitants of the North - smews (Mergus albellus), great white egrets (Egretta alba), Bewick’s swans (Cygnus columbianus) and greenshanks (Tringa nebularia) have been observed in the park during migrations as well as wandering peregrines (Falco peregrinus), snowy owls (Nyctea scandiaca), velvet scoters (Melanita fusca), arctic skuas (Stercorarius parasiticus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos).

Beaver Beaver Roe deer calf
Aukštaitija National Park is a home for about 50 species of mammals. These are insectivores, rodents, carnivores and hoofed animals. Insectivores are moles, shrews and hedgehogs. The only flying mammals and very little known though are bats. There are 8 bat species in the park, 4 of which are included into the Red Data Book. The most common one is the Nathusius’ pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii) and the rarest – the pond bat (Myotis dasycneme). The first time in Lithuania the pond bat was registered in Kaltanėnai - the present territory of the park, in 1928-1932.
The rodent family is the most diverse in species. The biggest rodents are beavers (Castor fiber). Some time ago they were extinct in Lithuania and reintroduced in 1947. Today they’ve spread through all the park. The rarest rodent is the northern birch mouse (Sicista betulina). For the first time in Lithuania it was caught in 1969, in Minčia Wood, which now belongs to the park. Other rodents like mice, dormice, rats and voles are present as well as two species of hares – the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) and the mountain hare (Lepus timidus). Both species are rather common, but the mountain hare is included into The Red Data Book. Red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) can be seen as in the forest as in gardens and parks.
Many carnivores find their space in the park - red fox (Vulpes vulpes), wolf (Canis lupus), raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), lynx (Lynx lynx) Eurasian badger (Meles meles) and several species of martens. Wolves need peace and quiet, so they stay in old forests like Ažvinčiai Wood. The number of wolves in the park is constant – 8-10 individuals. Footprints of a wandering brown bear (Ursus arctos) were found in Ažvinčiai Old Growth Forest in 1991. Forests and groves are home for pine martens (Martes Martes), beech martens (Martes foina), weasels (Mustela nivalis), stoats (Mustela erminea), polecats (Mustela putorius) and Eurasian badger (Meles meles). Otters (Lutra lutra), European and American minks (Mustela lutreola, M.vison) keep closer to the water pools.
Populations of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) are rather big and constant. Red deer (Cervus elaphus) were extinct in Lithuania. 19 individuals were released in the park in 1978. Today its population grew to 200. The biggest aboriginal mammal in the park is elk (Alces alces).
 
 
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