Lifelines in the National Park
The mountain streams of the Harz are cold and rich in oxygen. Many streams originate from the bogs of the higher areas and carry along tiny undecomposed plant remains. As a result some of them look brown, the water is acidic and white crests appear. Some plants and animals have adapted themselves to these special conditions.
The riverbed is covered with algae, mosses and lichens. Adapted insect larvae, such as those of the stoneflies (Plecoptera), adhere to the stones. By nature, brown trout (Salmo trutta) is the only fish species living at high altitudes. In the lower parts of the streams you can find bullhead (Cottus gobio) and European brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri), which are on the European list of endangered species.
There are also bipeds and quadrupeds living on the water and the banks. Attentive hikers may spot white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus) or grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea). Blossoms of various plants such as large white buttercup (Ranunculus platanifolius) or alpine blue-sow-thistle (Cicerbita alpina) add colour to this scene.