Lowland riparian forests
Lowland riparian forests can be found in the flood area of all major rivers of Slovenia, but are generally more widespread in the east. They are periodically flooded by nearby rivers (for example Sava, Krka, Mura, Drava) and support an interesting animal and plant community. The predominant tree species in these forests are Pedunculate Oak Quercus robur, Common Hornbeam Carpinus betulus, Common Alder Alnus glutinosa, European Ash Fraxinus excelsior and Narrow-leaved Ash Fraxinus angustifolia.
Some of the most notable examples of riparian forest in Slovenia include Krakovski gozd, Dobrava and the forests along the river Mura.
The two most characteristic birds in these ecosystems are Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius and Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis. Both species have high population densities in eastern Slovenia where lowland forests are still well-preserved. Rarer inhabitants include the Black Stork Ciconia nigra and White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, both using lowland forests for breeding.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis (Photo: Mitja Denac)
Black Stork Ciconia nigra (Photo: Jure Novak)
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (Photo: Jure Novak)
Common woodland birds are also present, including Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes, Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla. Several common species found in other types of forests are also present.
Among the various mammals inhabiting riparian forests, special attention goes to the Otter Lutra lutra and the European Beaver Castor fiber. They are both rare and difficult to see in Slovenia and live secretive lives.
The amphibians are well represented with several common species, but the most typical for riparian forest ecosystems include the Fire-bellied Bombina bombina and Yellow-bellied Toad B. variegata, the attractive Moor Frog Rana arvalis and the widespread Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra. European Pond Terrapins Emys orbicularis are also found along water canals and rivers, although they are becoming increasingly rare and endangered.
Beaver Castor fiber (Photo: Dušan Klenovšek)
Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata
Moor Frog Rana arvalis (Photo: Dušan Klenovšek)
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra
Riparian forests are precious habitats for several rare plant species and botanical communities. Some areas in eastern Slovenia host the very few populations of Snake's-head Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris in the country. Other notable flower species include: Dacian Lungwort Pulmonaria dacica, Belgian Gagea Gagea spathacea, Marsh Violet Viola palustris, Bog Violet Viola uliginosa, Water-forget-me-not Omphalodes scorpioides, Pseudostellaria europaea, Summer Snowflake Leucojum aestivum, Marsh Fern Thelypteris palustris, Lemon Daylily Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, Bog Arum Calla palustris.