Swis Nature

Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park

The Prut floodplain

The Prut floodplain – a huge wetland on the margin of the steppe

In the lower Prut floodplain the high sedimentation of clay particles near the river banks has led to the formation of a number of shallow floodplain lakes which exhibit a high level of biodiversity, especially in terms of birds. Here, wetland species meet typical species of the steppic biogeographic region, and many migratory species on their way from Central and Northern Europe to the Danube Delta.

The Prut floodplain vegetation is represented by natural vegetal formations of pastures and forests specific to alluvial soils which are flooded periodically and with a supplement of phreatic humidity. The grasslands support about 200 species of plants. Main forest vegetation is represented by Salix spp. and Populus spp. The aquatic vegetation includes three globally threatened species, as Marsilea quadrifolia, Salvinia natans L., Trapa natans L. protected under then Berne Convention and Habitats Directive. It also includes quite a number of nationally rare and threatened floral species, as Nymphaea alba, Salvinia natans, Thelypteris palustris, Nymphoides peltata, Vallisneria spiralis, Stratioides aloides, Alisma gramineum, Iris pseudacorus, Sagittaria sagittifolia, Potamogeton crispi, Ceratophyllum demersum etc.

The Lower Prut Floodplain represents an important resting area for migratory bird species. During migration in spring and autumn, over 20’000 birds can be recorded. An impressive number of 239 bird species out of the total of about 500 European bird species inhabit in the site for breeding, nesting, wintering or during migration. Among them, there are 65 species listed in the EU Bird Directive and three bird species (Haliaeetus albicilla, Numenius tenuirostris and Pelecanus onocrotalus) under the Appendix I, and 113 bird species protected under the Appendix II of convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

Moreover, other 40 species including 5 invertebrate, 1 mollusk, 9 fish, 10 amphibian, 4 reptile, and 11 mammals species, are protected specifically under the EU Habitats Directive, as the yellow-legged dragonfly (Gomphus flavipes). Also, the Prut harbours vital populations of the Tisza mayfly (Palingenia longicauda), the largest and most endangered mayfly species of Europe, and of the very rare aquatic wood-eating water beetle Potamophilus acuminatus.

The low terraces of the Prut River and dykes form habitats for small rodents like the European ground squirrel Spermophilus citellus, the Southern Birch Mouse Sicista sutilis and Black-bellied Hamster Cricetus cricetus, burrowing into the soft soil to create their communal warrens. The abundance of small rodents attracts, in turn, a number of larger birds of prey like the Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. The Golden Jackal Canis aureus has established a small resident population.

The ichtyofauna of Prut Floodplainis a good representation of the entire ichtyofauna of the Danube basin. The lower sector of Prut River is an important spawning ground, nurseryand migration path of freshwater fish stocks, includingsturgeons.