The flora of Podstrana
Once the southern part of the entire Mosor coastal slope was covered in autochthonous forest of evergreen holm oak (Quercus ilex). This forest was cut down due to the expansion of arable land, hence today these mountain slopes and plateaus are overgrown with Mediterranean vegetation featuring plant species that adjusted to the newly-created habitats that are mainly located within the underbrush and karst meadows.
Among the species that form the vegetation of Perun karst areas, the most recognisable are aromatic semi-shrub and shrub species from labiates (Lamiaceae): sage (Salvia officinalis), winter savory (Satureja montana), mountain germander (Teucrium montanum) and thyme (Thymus serpyllum), as well immortelle (Helychrisum italicum) and cistus (Cistus). Many of these aromatic plant species are also today used in medicine production and as honey plants and herbs.
Flysch Perun slopes have been intensely forested with Alpine pine (Pinus halepensis) which soon, thanks to its extreme adaptability and fast growth, became one of the most numerous wild trees, especially covering the lower parts of the Perun slopes. The maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), evergreen oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and the European nettle tree (Celtis australis) grow in higher areas and plateaus, and the Phillyrea (Phillyrea media), mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), South European flowering ash (Fraxinus ornus) and laurel (Laurus nobilis) grow as high bushes or low trees.
Two shrub species are particularly distinguish themselves with their lush appearance, thickness and visual appeal: Ephedra campylopoda which, with its hanging dark green, leafless branches, decorated with red berry-like cones , covers many rocks on Perun peak in spring , as well as Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), whose branches are also leafless and dark green. This legume blooms in spring with mildly scented yellow flowers, giving the entire landscape of Podstrana a recognisable and particularly striking appearance during this time of the year.
The fauna on Perun
Although the natural habitats are invaded by settlements and arable land and do not offer optimal living conditions for wild animals, several mammals of different feeding habits still live on the higher Perun areas: the beech marten (Martes foina), the fox (Vulpes vulpes), the European badger (Meles meles), the European hare (Lepus europaeus), the southern white-breasted hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), small rodents – the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) and edible dormouse (Glis glis), and a couple of bat species (Chyroptera).
The avifauna is richer in species. A couple of larger birds of prey nest on the hill peaks: the migrant bird short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and resident birds the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo). The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) can here only be seen in flight, searching for prey. The following migrant birds land on Podstrana hill slopes for nesting: the hoopoe (Upupa epops), the Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), the tawny pipit (Anthus campestris), the black-eared wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) and many others, and the following species use it as their habitat: the common blackbird (Turdus merula), the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius) and the great tit (Parus major). The common residents of the open field and terrain are the rock partridge (Alectoris graecaand a couple of finch species (Fringilidae): the European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), linnet (Acanthis cannabina), the European greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) and the European serin (Serinus serinus). The black-headed bunting (Emberiza melanocephala), whose males are known for their extraordinary beauty and elegance, is a very picky bird that mainly nests on vines in vineyards.
The rather rich reptile fauna includes only one poisonous snake – the viper (Vipera ammodytes), whose bite can be deadly, and a dozen of other species of non-poisonous snakes and lizards (European legless, copperhead). The rare water habitats are home to an endemic amphibian, a frog – the yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina variegata kolombatovici).
The invertebrate fauna includes several recognisable species including butterflies Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Satyridae and Lycaenidae, as well as some species of springtails and spiders.
Žrnovnica – flora and fauna of the mouth and lower course
The Žrnovnica river flows into the sea in a shallow bay between Strožanac and Stobreč. The sandy mouth and the end of the course of this little karst river, measuring only 5.2 m in length, are home to a variety of plant and animal species. The avifauna is dominated by the Caspian gull, whose numbers reach up to several thousand in the winter. The marshland and the sand dunes are home to the white wagtail and several species of curlew, and are the habitual residence of the grey heron and the little egret, two species of grebes (the great-crested grebe and the little grebe) and three types of cormorants. The common moorhen, Eurasian coot, several species of duck and several other smaller species of bird also regularly appear near the river.
The aquatorium of the mouth of the Žrnovnica river is bordered by a connection between Stobreč cape and the Hotel Le Meridien Lav. It is particularly valuable as a hatchery and as a place where young fish feed, grow and take refuge, which is why all fishing and hunting of other sea organisms is forbidden in this area.
The waters of the river are home to the California trout and the protected Solin salmon, which were both introduced into the Žrnovnica after the construction of Prančević Dam. Here are also eels, a species autochthonous to this river, and some marine species that occasionally find their way to the lower part of the river. Several other species of saltwater fish that can tolerate low levels of salinity live in the brackish waters of the estuary: the European seabass, the big-scale sand smelt, the golden grey mullet, the thinlip mullet and others, together with an exceptionally rare endemic species of the Adriatic basin – Canestrini’s goby, which lives in the sludgy beds of river estuaries on the East Adriatic coast, from the river Po to the Neretva river.
In addition to the well preserved vegetation of the riverbanks (willows and poplars), of great botanical value are also several habitats and plant communities near the lower part of the river: dry and wet grassland, the community of the river pond and the tall reeds, while on the areas around the river mouth and the sandy lagoons near the neighbouring sea coast there are specific salty Mediterranean plant communities, the so-called Mediterranean salt meadows and Limonio-Artemisietum coerulescens.