Croatia lies on the confluence of several biogeographic regions, and with its additional climatic, ecological, and geomophologic conditions, Croatia stands as one of Europe’s most biologically rich and diverse countries. In fact, Croatia ranks in Europe’s top half dozen country in terms of biodiversity despite its relatively small size.
101 mammal species live within Croatia’s borders, placing Croatia among 8 other European countries with the highest counts of mammal diversity. However, Croatia has a relatively small number of mammal endemics, as few populations are genetically isolated. According to current research, there are about 23,876 species and subspecies of fauna within Croatia, and about 2.4% are endemic while 6.8% are protected.
While Croatia may not have the largest percentages of endemic fauna, Croatia does have some significant endemic fauna—particularly those relics of the Tertiara era. Croatia’s underground habitats, islands, and karst rivers of the Adriatic basin remain Croatia’s primary endemic centers. Cave invertebrates and olm are generally the endemic species of Croatia’s underground habitats, while snails and lizards generally makeup the islands’ endemic populations. Minnows and gobies are primarily the Adriatic basin’s endemic fauna.
CROATIAN FAUNA CONSERVATION THREATS
As is often the case, Croatia’s wildlife and marine life are most significantly threatened by habitat loss and degradation. Many natural habitats continue to be transformed into urban or agricultural land, and road construction prompts habitat fragmentation. Further, the introduction of alien species—some which are invasive—also present a threat to Croatia’s fauna. Lastly, the exploitation and commercial collection of fauna (as well as plants and fungi) threaten wildlife populations.
Among Croatia’s most threatened mammal species are the bottlenose dolphin, 6 of its 34 bat species, and the last remaining island population of European mole.
On a positive note, however, Croatia also holds notable populations of species threatened across Europe such as bear, lynx, wolf, white-tailed eagle, lesser spotted eagle, and black stork populations.