The interaction of the different levels of altitude with its variety of rock and soil types can be found in very different habitats within a small area.
Floodplains are marked by the change between flooding and dry periods. It’s no trouble for the white willow, black poplar, grey alder and shrub willow to live in the water. They can survive in the water for up to 200 days at a time. Floodplains are also a type of Noah’s ark for many insects.
Red-necked grazing buck: The red-necked grazing buck lives on willow leaves from June to September.
Grape-cherry spinning moth: The caterpillars from the grape-cherry spinning moth, spin a silky veil in order to protect themselves from other animals.
Zebra spider, Oriole and Hawfinch
Spruce forests are very common in the nature park area. The evergreen spruce tree enjoys its habitat between 800 and 1,400 metres above sea level. As a shadow-spending needle tree, it does not allow other trees and shrubs to live close to it. Herbs grow mainly as grass and dwarf bushes.
Moss bells, Fly amanita, Colourful woodpecker, Forest tree runner, Common crossbill, Spruce bark beetle
Larch yew forest
Larch trees and yews grow at a much higher altitude than the spruce and therefore form a natural woodland limit. They are climate-resistant and are not selective when looking for rocky soil. The yew tree is slow-growing. Some yews might reach an age of more than 1,000 years old. The large yew nuts are much liked by the spotted nutcracker.
Spotted nutcracker, Ring ouzel, Black Grouse, Mountain valerian, Crowberry
Dwarf heath and Alpine grass
Trees don’t grow above an altitude of 2,200 metres above sea level. Grey alder bushes, high perennial corridors, dwarf heath, Alpine grass, as well as Alpine meadows grow side by side, often in a mosaic-type setting, above this altitude. All these formations consist of low-laying plants, marked by cushion growth and dwarf growth. In between, you will find a special type of plant community, such as the ‘wind kante‘or the ‘schneetalchen‘.
Carex curvula: The carex curvula marches along the ground at a growing speed of 0.9 mm/year.
Low-growing heath, Hairy Alpine rose, Water pipit, Ermine
Rocks and debris mountain kars
In the summit region, you will find a number of plants and animals, which thrive in rocky areas. Suitable plants have learnt to grow even on only a small portion of soil. The root develops in crevices and tight gaps and will bloom during the summer. On more or less movable debris heaps, some plants can grow well as they develop an extremely durable root system to hold them in place.
Alpine rhaeticum, Alpine dandelion, Wallcreeper, Alpine ibex, European snow vole
Mountain streams originate from springs or melting waters from glaciers. Sometimes, they appear grey-brown in colour or appear to be milky. The so-called ‘glacier milk’ comes from stones and rubble, which is crushed and ground by the water.
Fly larvae: Fly larvae have a type of sucker on their belly which allows them to hold onto stones etc.
Quiver fly larvae, Brook trout, Water blackbird, Wagtail
High mountain lake
In the Stilfser Joch National Park, there are more than 100 mountain lakes. Most of them are situated above the tree line. Wildlife inside these lakes depends on constantly low temperatures and has to survive in harsh winter conditions, as well as draw low nutritional value from the water. Mountain lakes are usually not densely populated by insects or other creatures.
Cyclops: Cyclops move with the help of the feelers, slightly hopping through the water.
Water flea: The water flea filters algae out of the water with the help of its eye lashes and bristles on its legs.