Risorgive di Virco
The Risorgive di Virco (Virco Springs) biotope, occupying 81.7 hectares, was created in 1998 and falls within the municipalities of Bertiolo and Talmassons. This area lies just below the line of springs: the abundance of water has over time generated a rich network of surface water and a system of wet habitats. The many groundwater outcropping form into a stream and a stretched shape fen. Here, there are Cladium beds around the pools and in the most saturated areas, low alkaline fens dominated by Schoenus nigricans and rich inendemisms; wet meadows dominated by Molìnia caerulea are rare, being the first to be transformed into cultivated land. There are many interesting amphibian habitats as a result of the wide-scale restoration carried out on previously cultivated areas. There are also strips of wooded areas, dominated by black alder, created fairly recently. The agricultural landscape surrounding the area, in some cases, has kept its traditional layout of enclosed fields. The management and restoration allowed the biodiversity to be maintained and broadened, and it is planned to extend the natural areas and connectup the biotopes. Species present listed in Annex ll of the Habitat Directive are Armeria helodes, Erucastrum palustre, Euphrasia marchesettii and Gladiolus palustris. Other rare species are Senecìo fontanicola, Centaurea forojulensis and Anagallis tenella. There is a sizable colony of this latter, which grows over a peat layer raised during restorationwork.
A great amount of species characterizes the fauna of the spring area. Notable examples of the reptiles here include the relict populations of the common lizard (vivipara), a microtherm species, which in these environments must truly be considered a post-Wurmian glacial relict. The viper is still widespread in the areas, with populations that are now isolated and therefore in particular danger. Snakes present include the Aesculapian snake and the smooth snake, while the presence of the fresh-water turtle here is of particular Community interest. Amphibians include the particularly widespread Italian agile frog, a species endemic in northern Italy. Many other amphibians live in the stagnant waters, for example the newts and the yellow-bellied toad. The site also offers considerable ornithological interest, with the presence of many important species in areas that, although fragmented, play a vital role ofshelter within territories subject to intense anthropic pressure. Of particular note is the presence of various ardeids such as the purple heron, little bittern (also nesting), night heron, great bittern, great egret and little egret. Birds of prey include the hen harrier and Montagu's harrier, the marsh harrier and many others.
With the otter now extinct, the main mammal here is the "puzzola"( a type of polecat), a carnivore whose populations everywhere are in sharp decline.
Particular rodents here, in the wettest zones, in sizable populations include the water vole as well as the harvest mouse with its delicate nest built up on the top of Cyperaceae and Graminaceae stalks. The water shrew is also very widespread. The presence of the freshwater crayfish should also be noted, a species of Community interest.