France Fauna Part II

Terrestrial domain. – First of all, the mountainous regions must be distinguished: the Alps, the Jura and the Vosges, the Pyrenees and also the Cévennes and the Massif Central, which possess a large number of their own species, some of which represent glacial remains, while others are endemic to the mountain: bear, marmot, chamois, ibex, Sorex alpinus, Salamandra atra, numerous insects, etc. Most of the territory, flat or mountainous region, is not easy to subdivide: certainly, if you study the fauna from north to south, you will find in the south the presence of species that are very rare, scattered or missing in the north; and the same happens, albeit less frequently, when proceeding from east to west; but, with all this, there are no well-defined separations. For almost all terrestrial Vertebrates and Insects, one can speak in bulk of a southern region, the extreme type of which is constituted by the Mediterranean strip; it is separated from the northern region by an intermediate strip, the center of which can be fixed at 46 ° of lat. north. This region, which corresponds roughly to the Rhône and Garonne basin, dates back to the West along theGecko, Psammodromus, Chalcides, Lacerta ocellata, Caelopeltis monspessulana, Coronella girondica, Coluber longissimus), from some Batrachians, such as Pelobates cultripes and Triton marmoratus, from some Molluscs, such as parmacelle, Zonites algirius, many from the olive tree area, from Scolopetti and the Scorpions.

The rest of France, above the 46th parallel, constitutes the northern region, basin of the Loire, the Seine, the Somma, the Meuse and the Moselle. Although the differences between the continental part and the oceanic part are too irregular to allow a clear division, it can nevertheless be observed that the dormouse (Myoxus glis) and the dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) do not exist in the north-west, as well as the Pelobates fuscus, the Bombinator pachypus and the great night butterfly Saturnia pyri, while the Pelodytes punctatus and the Rana agilisthey do not exist in the Northeast. There is especially in the maritime area a certain number of molluscs, which are not encountered in the east. Many southern animals penetrate more or less into the northern region, that is to say up to the western end, along the sea strip (Pelobates cultripes, Phasmes of the Lower Loire), thus being able to go up from there the valleys of the great rivers, that is to say up to the east end (xerothermic leftovers: Lacerta viridis in Alsace, Lacerta muralis in Lorraine). The forest of Fontainebleau is known as the extreme point of penetration of the southern fauna (Tropidonotus viperinus).

According to, the terrestrial fauna, with its mountainous regions, southern and northern, and with the maritime area, is relatively rich, possessing more than a third of the mammals of Europe; it lacks only the absolutely southern forms, pushed into Spain and Italy by glacial cooling (jackal, porcupine, etc.), the absolutely Nordic forms, which disappeared at the time of postglacial warming (lemming, reindeer, wolverine) and the steppe and Eastern European deserts (spermophils, gerbils, jerboa, spalaci, etc.). Of the 91 European species of reptiles, a third (29) is French; of the 43 Batrachians of Europe, France has more than half (22); and as for all of Insects orders, 4 / 5of the European genera and half of the species meet in that country. On the other hand, the reptiles of southern and eastern Europe are missing: the Galeodes of Spain and the freshwater crabs of Italy.

Man exerted his action on fauna, causing the disappearance of a certain number of species, whose habitat had already been reduced by the extension of crops. The last bear of Alsace was killed around 1760 near Munster, and the last lynx was killed in 1863 near Nice; there are no more than a few wolves scattered throughout Poitou and Limousin; the beaver, who once lived in many places and that in the century. XVII was still abundant in Alsace, now it exists only in small colonies on the Lower Rhone and Gardon.

Underground domain. – In the underground waters of France there are neither fish nor batrachians; and the caves richest in cave fauna are distributed on the limestone contours of the three great mountain massifs: Pyrenees, Massif Central and Cévennes, Alps. The Pyrenees have a fauna of ancient origin, which had to penetrate the caves before the glacial and after it (Speonomus, Aphaenops, Typhloblaniulus); the Cévennes possess a large number of particular types (Sphaeromides), as well as the Alps (Luvalius). The caves of the Jura (Caecosphaeroma) are cold and poor, and those of the north are even poorer; they mostly contain common forms (Asellus, Niphargus).

Domain of human influence. – Man has created a true center of special fauna around him; the settled forests and the crops installed on cleared land have offered shelter and nourishment to steppe species, to gnawing, to small carnivores and to birds, which, adapting to the new conditions of life, have attracted an infinity of small phytophages, especially insects, which often abandoned the spontaneous plants that nourished them, attacked the species cultivated or introduced from other countries (Phylloxera). The houses, cellars and greenhouses house not only aboriginal species, which find a favorable environment in them, but also a certain number of species of distant origin, which man has involuntarily carried with them for centuries, so that the their origin (termite cockroaches, moths, parasites). In the houses of the north we meet various species, which live in the free state in the South (in the ovens, the Thermobia domestica, of Mediterranean origin, the domestic cricket of Asia or Africa).

France Fauna 2