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Fauna of Bia這wie瘸 Forest Print

Work with book „Bia這wie瘸 National Park. Know it – Understand it – Protect it”
Publisher: Bia這wieski Park Narodowy, 2009

 The Bialowieza bison









 Amphibians and reptiles







European Bisons
Bia這wie瘸 Forest is a natural habitat for the large, as for our climatic sphere, number of animal species. Starting from invertabrates: protozoans, platyhelminths, nematodes, hairybacks (gastrotrich), molluscs, worms, tardigrades, spiders, mites, centepedes, insects and many more, and finishing with vertebrates: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals – until today there have been over 12 thousand species identified in Bia這wie瘸 Forest. In Poland there are approximately 35-40 thousand of animal species. According to the estimations, the forest fauna is defined only in 50%, thus the actual amount of species living in the forest might reach even 25 thousand. 

Young European bison


The value and unique nature of the forest results not from the number, but the from value of the animal species. There are not many species originating from the environment influenced by the human being, but there is a large number of species specific for the natural forest environment. Another characteristic feature is that species are not densely populated, but very diversed within one area.

Until the 31st of December 2000, in Bia這wie瘸 Primaeval Forest 11559 animal species were identified, among which the following systematic groups can be found:

Polish Koniks of a tarpan type


Wild boars

Young boars

Systematic group

Number of the species identified in Bia這wie瘸 Forest




















































Invertebrates, although they constitute 95% of the number of animal species identified so far in Bia這wie瘸 Forest, with a regard to fauna, are only slightly recognized. The degree of their recognition probably do not exceed 50%. Due to that fact, almost every year new animal species are being discovered with the aim of enriching our country’s fauna and with the aim of bringing a contribution to the science. Many of the animals, which can be found in the forest, have here their only, or one of just few habitats worldwide. Referring to the newly discovered species it is hard to specify their population.

White-backed woodpecker
However, there is a group of animals connected with the specific natural forest environment. Their biological existence is strictly connected with deadwood or very old trees presence. We can suspect that such species used to be widely spread within our climatic zone. At present, due to the transformation of the natural environment by human being, the population of the species became so small that they are called forest relics.

Vertebrates, although well recognized and well visible, constitute only few percent of the animal species identified in Bia這wie瘸 Forest. The more we know about invertebrates and the more new species we identify in the Forest area, the less will be the participation of vertebrates in the forest fauna, as the lists of identified vertebrates are closed, and all you can count on is the appearance of a new species in the forest fauna. 

The least numerous group of vertebrates are reptiles, represented by only 7 species. It is difficult to talk about the common species of reptiles, but the least widespread species in the forest are sand lizard and a grass snake, the further places shall be occupied by blind-worm, viper and water lizard. European pond turtle and smooth snake are very rare species in the forest.

Amphibians constitute a little bit bigger group - animals quite common, but having a tendency of their population to decrease and of their species to extinct. European fire-bellied toad is the best example of that process in Bia這wie瘸 Forest. In the past, the species was quite common, even on the glades located inside the forest complex, but in the end of  90-ties, the species could be found in only few stands located at the Forest edge. 

Apart from European fire-bellied toad the following species can be identified in the Bia這wie瘸 Forest: European tree frog, common spadefoot, grey, green and natterjack toad, common frog, moor frog, pool and water frog and two species of newt: common and great crested newt.  

Fish is another, not numerous systematic group in the forest. Forest rivers are relatively small, and with a regard to the small land inclination their water run slowly, which in a natural way limit the possibilities of development and dwelling of many fish species. There are no big water reservoir within the forest area. 32 fish and cyclostomates (3 species of lampreys) species have been identified in the forest waters. In case of this specific group of animals – the aforementioned constitute complete water fauna in the forest.

Mammals are one of the best recognized groups of animals in Bia這wie瘸 Forest. In accordance with the historical sources we found that there are mammal species, which are not only extinct in the Forest, but also worldwide. These species are : tarpan and aurochs (unfortunately so far there has been no 100% proof confirming that these species used to live here). Furthermore, there are species which natural habitat shrank and currently does not cover the Forest, namely : European mink and wildcat (information concerning the presence of wolverine and sable within this area in the past is not reliable enough). "The space used to be occupied by the aforementioned spieces" was filled, with the human help, with other spieces: racoon dog, American mink, musk-rat, wood mouse, house mouse, common vole. Present mammal fauna is represented in the Forest by 58 species, representatives of 6 orders : insectivorous (mole, hedgehog, shrews and Eurasian water shrew), bats, predatory ( wolf, lynx, fox, raccoon dog, badger, otter and other mustelidae-weasel family), even-toed ungulate (bison, elk, deer, roe deer and wild boar), rodents (squirrels, mouses, voles and dormouse) and lagomorpha (european hare and snowy hare).

Birds are the group of vertebrates having the greatest population in Bialowie瘸 Forest. Within the area of the forest, with its edges inclusive, the presence of 250 species of birds was identified (240 in the Polish part and 229 in the Belarussian part). Approximately 2/3 of the bird species (177) are the breeding species. In comparison with other national and European forest areas, Bia這wie瘸 Forest is generously filled with various species. The great bird species diversification is represented by : daily predatory birds (15 species), owls (8 species), woodpeckers (8 breeding species + 1 migratin species) and sylviidae birds (23 species). 

Tree frog
Due to the fauna observation conducted during a long period of time, and due to the knowledge of biological requirements for specific species, we can state that the composition of the bird fauna in the forest changed in the course of time. Typical forest species, described as native ones, which might have populated the forest prior to the changes implemented by the human being, are represented by approximately 130 breeding species, and by approximately 40 species of newcomers.

Among the species, which lately appeared in the forest, the following are worth mentioning : common redstart, European serin and common rosefinch. Unfortunately some of the forest former breeding species vanished : the greater spotted eagle, peregrine falcon, short-eared owl, crested lark. The condition of bird fauna in Bia這wie瘸 Forest is usually rated very high : with relatively small number of foreign species, not connected with the forest environment, and with a relatively small number of domestic species being extinct.

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