Flora and Fauna

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Weather in the Horezu Depression
Max.: 17°C
Min.: 3°C
Cost of gas: 4.70 ron/l

The Vegetation

On the territory of the town of Horezu there is a remarkable diversity of the faunal and floral ecosystems, due to a series of factors such as: the relatively mild climate, with sub-Mediterranean influences (favourable to the expansion of relatively thermophilic species); the mountainous landform, occupying an important portion of the territory, favoured the preservation of the natural vegetation (it could not be replaced by the agricultural crops because of the rugged terrain); the vast percentage of natural pastures, rationally exploited; the effective pollination, due to the development of apiculture on the territory; the low herbiciding level; the local preoccupation for the preservation of this type of diversity. Within the mountainous landforms there is a great diversity of habitat types. The high frequency of limestone, marked by sectors of gorges and small, isolated massifs, with abrupt slopes, dry valleys, detritus, creates a particular landscape that hosts a specific flora, extremely interesting.

The Vegetation Levels

The local vegetation shows variations in its composition, the environmental factors, the climate, the exposure, the humidity leading to the appearance of distinctive areas, occupying larger or smaller territories, according to the existing conditions. Also, the distribution of the territory according to the altitude levels creates a corresponding distribution of vegetation types. The transition from one vegetation level to another is intermediated by interferences of the various vegetation types specific of the vegetation levels.

The nemoral level (the level of the deciduous forests) is found at the altitude level between 500 m and 1400 m, and the beech trees forests, mixed with spruce and fir trees, sometimes reach up to the top of the mountain.

The oak trees forests – The oak tree level is represented by the common oak forests surrounding the lower limit of the beech tree subzone, sometimes reaching up to an altitude of 600 m and even 800 m. In the lower part of this area we can find oak trees forests and isolated oak trees.

The common oak trees forests level – it is represented by the alternance of the beech trees and of the common oak trees. While the common oak prefers the Southern and the South-Eastern slopes, the beech tree chooses the Northern slopes, colder and with a higher degree of humidity. There are also complementary species (birch, poplar, wild cherry, elm, hornbeam, alder – in the river meadows area), creating an ecosystem specific of the Southern Sub-Carpathians.

The beech trees forests – covering the vastest area among the local forests, this vegetation level is represented by beech trees forests. This subzone starts at the altitude of 700 m and it reaches the altitude of 1200-1300 m. It is represented by mountainous beech trees forests, characterized by the lack of common oak trees and by the appearance of several herbaceous species specific of the Carpathian Mountains, that distinguish the beech trees forests subzone from the hill area (Gheorghe Ploaie, 1998).

The mixed forests of beech trees and coniferous trees – the lower limit is hard to establish, because the resinous species – the spruce (Picea abies) and especially the silver fir (Abies alba) – descend on the valleys until relatively low altitudes (600-650 m). Generally, the mixed forests extend between the altitudes of 500 and 1500 m. This subzone includes coniferous species such as: fir tree, spruce, pine (Pinus sylvestris), mixed with lower-level deciduous trees, especially birch tree (Betula pendula), aspen (Populus tremula), ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior), linden tree (Tilia cordata), wych elm (Ulmus scabra) and, rarely, hornbeam, sycamore maple, willow trees.

The boreal level (spruce trees forests) is well-represented, the resinous trees forests extending between the altitudes of 1200 and 1850 m. They consist mainly of spruce and rarely of fir and pine trees and, close to the rocky slopes, of yew ( Taxus baccata). There are also shrubs such as the common juniper (Juniperus communis), the rose hip (Rosa canina, Rosa pendulina), the raspberry tree (Rubus idaeus), the blueberry tree (Vaccinium myrtillus), and at the highest limit the juniper (Juniperus sibirica) and the mountain pine (Pinus mugo). The herbaceous vegetation is represented by numerous species, but also by moss and lichens.

The sub-Alpine level lies above the spruce trees forests level. The transition is intermediated by shrublands that contribute to the retention of water on the slopes, to the consolidation of the terrain and that represent a barrier in front of the avalanches. In these areas can be found numerous species of rare plants, such as the red thistle (Centaurea atropurpurea), the alpine bellflower (Campanula alpina), the fringed pink (Dianthus superbus), the martagon lily (Lilium martagon), the yellow mountain lily (Lilium jankae), the white dryad (Dryas octopetala), etc. The endangered species in this area are the lady’s-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) and the Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), and the vulnerable species are the columbine (Aquilegia transsilvanica), the Blagay’s daphne (Daphne blagayana) and the bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).

The Fauna

The altitude modifications of the climate and vegetation condition the forming of the faunal levels. Each faunal unit has zoological constituents with corresponding morphophysiological and phenological adaptations and with hygrothermal needs adequate to its environment.

The faunal level of the oak trees forests is the best-represented one, being generally a protected, unaltered space that offers favourable living conditions to the specific fauna. The great diversity of the plant species is joined by the diversity of animal species, of which the most common belong to the invertebrate group (various beetles, spiders, butterflies, ants, bees, etc.). Among the vertebrates we can find: the tree frog (Hyla arborea), the slow-worm (Anguis fragilis), the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca). In this area can be identified a great diversity of bird species: the thrush nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), the great tit (Parus major), the sombre tit (Parus lugubris), many species of skylarks (Alauda arvensis), the goldfinch (Carduelis Carduelis), the woodpecker, the hobby (Falco subbuteo), the red-footed falcon  (Falco vespertinus), the red kite (Milvus milvus), the short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and the little owl (Athene noctua). During the last few years was noticed an increase of the population of pheasants (Phasanius colchicus), their density remaining still low. The main mammals are the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), the common shrew (Sorex araneus), the fat dormouse (Glis glis), the hare (Lepus europaeus), the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus). Among the carnivorous species, we can mention: the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the gray wolf (Canis lupus), the badger (Meles meles), the pine marten (Martes martes). Among the herbivorous species, the most representative are the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and the wild boar (Sus scrofa).

The faunal level of the beech trees forests is well-represented, reaching up to the altitude of 1700 m. The favourable ecological factors allow for a series of animal species to live in both levels with little effective modifications.  Among the bird species, the most numerous in these forests are the following: the dunnock (Prunella modularis), the tree pipit (Anthus trivialis), the common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), the robin (Erithacus rubecula), the mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus), the wood nuthatch (Sitta europaea), the common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), and the jay (Garrulus glandarius). Among the diurnal and the nocturnal birds of prey can be mentioned the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), the common buzzard (Buteo buteo), the lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), and the tawny owl (Strix aluco). At this level, the mammals are represented by the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), the red deer (Cervus elaphus), the lynx (Lynx lynx), the wildcat (Felis silvestris), the viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara).

The faunal level of the coniferous forests hosts a smaller number of animal than the common beech trees forests the oak trees forests, due to the harsher climate and to the greater difficulties in finding food. Some of the lepidoptera in this area can be very dangerous pests, such as the nun moth (Lymantria monacha). The bark beetles are exclusively phytofagous, and as their typical representative can be mentioned the spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). Among the reptile species are the common adder (Vipera berus) and the viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara). Among the vertebrates, the most common in the coniferous forests are the birds: the common firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus), the coal tit (Parus ater), the ring ouzel (Turdus torquatus), the crested tit (Parus cristatus), the willow tit (Parus montanus), the common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), the common raven (Corvus corax), the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus). One of the typical species inhabiting these forests is the brown bear (Ursus arctos), but we can also find isolated herds of chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). During the summer time, some species migrate from the beech trees forests and common oak trees forests area to the mountainous area, looking for food (the wild boar, the wolf, etc.)

The faunal level of the sub-Alpine shrublands and of the Alpine meadows has a low number of animal species, which can be explained through the harsh living conditions – low temperatures, high variations of temperature, abundant snowfalls, long winters and strong winds.

The fauna of the mountain streams and rivers is of a remarkable diversity. Some of the flowing waters have their springs in the Alpine area, others in the coniferous forests. They are characterized by a more constant water flow than most of the other flowing waters, by a higher amount of oxygen and by a permanently clear water. The fauna is rich, being represented by very oxophilic and cryophilic species. Most of the animal species in the mountain streams are the insect species, with aquatic larvae and flying adults. The fish can be found only in the larger streams, the main species being the brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), two species of bullhead (Cottus gobio, Cotus poccilopus), the Mediterranean barbel (Barbus meridionalis petenyi). The mountain rivers have a greater water flow than the streams, a lower water speed, and a rock-covered river bed. The fauna is richer than the one in the streams. It consists of the same large groups, but from other species: Baetis carpatica, gonocephala. The ichthyofauna is dominated by the grayling (Thymallus thymallus) and the Romanian barbel (Barbus petenyi) – with small populations. Almost all the fish in the trout area can be found there, plus the chub (Leuciscus cephalus) and the spirlin (Alburnoides bipunctatus).