Did you know?
Why do capercaillies eat small stones?
The capercaillie is a very picky herbivore. Depending on the season, this bird feeds on blueberries, shoots, needles and buds from spruce and mountain pine trees. Having stones in their belly helps them grind up the food to aid digestion. Due to its specialised dietary requirements, the capercaillie requires a very specific habitat, just like the ones found in the high-level areas of the National Park. In order to protect this rare and sensitive creature, it is important to remain on marked trails wherever requested and respect the rules laid down by the National Park.
Why are fir cones rarely found on the ground?
The cones of fir trees always stand upright on the uppermost branches. Only individual scales fall to the ground. The middle of the cone (known as the stem) remains on the tree. In contrast, spruce cones hang on the branches before they fall to the ground intact. That’s why only spruce cones are usually lying on the forest floor, often together with beechnuts – the fruits of the European beech tree. Spruce, fir and beech are the most common trees found in the National Park.
Who fills the forest with echoing calls every autumn?
From mid-September every year, thunderous cries echo through the forest. These calls herald the start of the deer rut, which lasts for around four weeks. This is the period when hinds and stags mate. But as there can only be one stag for each group of females, stags frequently fight over territory during this period. The loud rutting calls are intended to scare off competitors and keep the group together.
Why is walking on boggy ground like walking on springs?
Bogs always have excess water. More water is always added than can evaporate or flow away. An intact bog can consist of up to 95 percent water. This creates spongey ground as soft as a mattress. This boggy ground is largely made up of peat – the remains of dead bog plants which have not completely decomposed. A great deal of carbon dioxide is stored within peat, which is why bogs and their protection are important for limiting climate change.
What is a primeval forest?
The term “primeval forest” is often used in connection with jungles, like those in the Amazon. But primeval forest is in fact the general term used for a forest which is untouched by human influence and intervention. There are near-primeval areas of woodland in the National Park, such as the forest close to Zwieslerwaldhaus. In addition, the forest is left to develop according to its own laws throughout the Park’s natural zone. As a result, once commercial forests are now being left to develop into future primeval woodland in the heart of Europe on both sides of the Bavarian-Czech border.
What are wild boars looking for when they rummage on the ground?
Wild boars are omnivores – they eat everything. Leaves, fungus, grasses and roots are just as important in their diet as insect larvae, birds and eggs. These hogs look for most of these tasty treats on the forest floor, aiding soil aeration and the growth of plants in the process. They may even come across beechnuts and acorns on the ground, which are particular favourites among the wild boars. To ensure some beechnuts nevertheless remain intact on the ground and are able to germinate, beech trees produce lots of fruits at irregular intervals. These fruiting years also impact the wild boar population: In years with lots of beechnuts, the animals have plenty to eat and reproduce in greater numbers.
What do bark beetles love to eat?
When we at the National Park talk about bark beetles, we are usually referring to the larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle. As the name suggests, this beetle primarily exists in the bark of spruce trees. This often leads to the death of the host tree, as the beetles eventually disrupt the transportation of nutrients within the tree. If conditions are right, the beetle population can explode, which could in turn impact large areas of forest. However, these beetles also help create important structures which serve as a habitat for other animals and fungi.
Why does a woodpecker need an anvil?
In order to peck open cones and nuts, the great spotted woodpecker places this food in the bark cracks or knotholes of trees. It then hacks them open with its beak. This special spot for opening its food is referred to as an “anvil”. The great spotted woodpecker is the most common species of woodpecker in Central Europe, as it is able to adapt to different sources of food. This stands in stark contrast to the white-backed woodpecker: It only eats the insects that dwell in dead deciduous wood. If this type of wood isn’t available, this woodpecker finds it hard to survive. This makes it a very rare species. Luckily, the National Park is still home to a few breeding pairs.
Why do some trees live on stilts?
If a young tree germinates and grows on the trunk of a dead tree on the forest floor, its roots extend around the dead wood and down into the ground. When the dead trunk has then completely decomposed, empty space is left under the roots. The younger tree is then left standing on a stilt-like structure. And due to the high volume of dead wood in the National Park, this is no rare sight here.
Has climate change been noticeable in the National Park?
Climate change has also been felt in the National Park. In the last 50 years, the time when leaves start to develop on beech trees has moved forward some three weeks, and the average temperatures in the Bavarian Forest have also risen considerably. In addition, species have been found in the National Park that originally come from warmer climes, such as the Mediterranean spotted chafer. There is also evidence that the groundwater level is falling due to a lack of precipitation. Further consequences of climate change in future remain to be seen.
Which fungus is a “jack of all trades”?
The tinder fungus is a type of wood fungus which primarily grows on beech and birch trees, and breaks down the wood. Lots of large fruiting bodies can be found on the old beech trees in the National Park. These fungi have been used for a variety of purposes for thousands of years. The fungus’ trama layer can be used as fuel – hence the name tinder fungus – as well as repurposed as material for making textiles and dressing wounds.
Why is dead wood full of life?
Around one third of the 35,000 species that live in German forests are reliant in some way on dead wood. As they are involved in its decomposition, they also fulfil important functions within the forest ecosystem. Almost all dead wood inhabitants are highly specialised. One creature takes care of sun-bathed dead deciduous wood, while another might focus exclusively on rotten, moist coniferous wood. Given the huge number of variables, there are a plethora of tiny habitats available for an equally vast range of species.
How are lynx counted?
Europe’s largest cat, the lynx, has now re-established itself as a member of the Bavarian Forest’s animal population after its successful reintroduction in the Czech Republic in the 1980s. The region’s population is meticulously monitored and researched. As part of this, one key figure is particularly important: How many animals live in the region? Dozens of photo traps hidden in the forest are tasked with providing the answer. The unique markings of each lynx allow every animal to be individually identified. This works according to the same principle as the human fingerprint.