The secrets of the underground life of plants: friendly ground-ivies and selfish wild strawberries
Marina Semtšenko observes the hidden sides of the co-existence of plants: how plants with different adaptabilities can efficiently exist side by side. The author has tried to find an answer to an exciting question: is the selfish behaviour of plants that ignore the joint benefit the only successful strategy, i.e. the remaining strategy in the course of evolution in such natural situations where selfish individuals are not punished? Her doctoral thesis examined the inter-root communication of plants, based on the examples of ground-ivies and wild strawberries. She found out that due to the very different lifestyles and the way they grow. Ground-ivies spread very fast, but are short-aged. Wild strawberries have a slower growth, but they are stronger and live longer. Therefore, they can easily live side by side without „robbing” resources from each other.
Country clean-up project „Let’s do it!” 2008 and the tragedy of the commons
Juhan Javoiš takes a animal ecologist’s look at the reasons why tens of thousands people voluntarily participated in cleaning up trash left by other people. From the evolutionary psychology point of view, this kind of massive participation in a social project would be very unlikely. It is the tragedy of the commons, an inevitability of evolutionary logic that normally stops us from contributing into pure commons.
Estonian Nature enquires
Ivar Puura summarizes the procedure of processing the report of environmental impacts of the Nord Stream.
Marko Pomerants explains the idea of selling the state forest land.
The saga of oil shale on the grounds of the Narva quarry
Mait Sepp and Margus Pensa recall the history of the world’s largest oil shale quarry and elaborate on ideas concerning the future of the area. The first oil factory was opened in 1927 by Swedes in Türsamäe, near Sillamäe. In the end of 1930ies the factory and quarries were widened and new workers’ settlements were founded. The Second World War wrecked the factory as well as the settlement of Viivikonna. The pre-war production level was no reached before 1948. In 1960ies the production was increased many times, due to the use of new and powerful technology, and oil shale came to be used in thermal power plants. The top productivity level was reached in 1987 in the Sirgala open quarry when 6.1 billion tons of oil shale was extracted from the earth. In 2000 the quarry of Sirgala was joined with the Narva open quarry (founded in 1970). The article also elucidates on the future of quarries – the way they are afforested and which plant communities have been destroyed. Instead of large mire areas we now have monocultures of pine.
Protected area: The Atlantis of Lake Peipsi drags the frog paradise under water
Maris Paju takes us to the protected island of Piirissaar, which is easier to read about than to visit, as the local people are not interested in tourists. As the land in this area is sinking, Piirissaar is constantly decreasing in size. The island is small (7.5 ha), isolated and flat, therefore there are only a few different habitat types presented. Most common types are reedbeds, coastal meadows, bush mires and bush meadows as well as paludified forests. Piirissaar is known for its rich amphibian fauna: 8 species of the 11 present in Estonia have been found on Piirissaar. The most rare amphibian species – the common spadefoot and the green toad – are dependent on human activity. The whole island has been declared as a landscape protection area.
A mushroom surprise from Hanikatsi
Kadri Põldmaa found a rare mushroom species from the Hanikatsi Islet. On the first sight, it hardly resembles a mushroom. The olive-coloured ear-like formations have the name Chlorencoelia versiformis and it has been found in three locations other than Hanikatsi. It grows on old rotten tree trunks of broad-leaved forests.
Our amanitas 1
Mall Vaasma opens the series about the mushroom of the year – amanitas – by introducing three very poisonous species.
Interview: Nature research often starts from Puhtu
Toomas Kukk has interviewed Jüri Keskpaik, a zoologist.
Practical tips: How to collect insects
Mati Martin shares tips to beginners in insect collecting: which tools to use, how and whom to collect and preserve. Numerous photographs, such as those depicting how to stretch butterflies and beetles, are helpful tools as well.
Essay: Signs in the forests of Neeruti by Alo Põldmäe
Erik Holm - the scientist of biological control of pests and the leader of Australian Estonians
Tiiu ja Inno Salasoo recall an outstanding Estonian of Australia, whose life was suddenly broken in March. Erik Holm was born in 1927 in Tallinn. In 1944, in the course of the war, he happened upon Germany, where he fell ill and was later recovered and worked in different positions when he finally reached Australia in 1949. He worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization by studying mites (Acari). He lived in Perth, Canberra and Sydney.