The native sheep of Kihnu are alive and doing well
Anneli Ärmpalu-Idvand introduces the native sheep of Kihnu, a unique sheep breed in Europe, its particularities and useful features. In 2001-2009 three researches were carried out in order to make sure if there still are truly native sheep in Estonia. The results showed that the population of Estonian native sheep (or more specifically, the native Kihnu sheep, as the breed originates from the Kihnu Island) is viable, but needs legal protection. The Kihnu native sheep are small, with thin legs and a short tail, and the variety in appearance is big, ranging from white and grey to different tones of dark. The born lambs are usually black and their wool turns lighter with age. A distinct feature of the Estonian native sheep is their two-layered wool and the related loss of winter underlying wool layer in the warmer season. The wool is less greasy than other sheep varieties’ wool. The Estonian native sheep is very durable and tough as well as very undemanding about living conditions.
The evolutionary story of Estonian and European old sheep breeds in the light of two scientific researches
Urmas Saarma has taken a close look at the genetic sequences of sheep: the Estonian native sheep breed was proven, as well as two migration waves from South-West Asia. In 2006 most known native sheep were pictured, measured and a blood analysis was taken from about 300 sheep. The DNA was analyzed with the help of Finnish scientists, based on comparative results from sheep all over the world. Four distinct population groups were determined, named after the place of origin: Kihnu, Ruhnu, Hiiu and Saare. Most of the Estonian native sheep live on the western islands. Based on endogenous retrovirus of sheep, another study was conducted to find out if the wool sheep were first breeded in Europe or in South-West Asia. It became clear that sheep spread from South-West Asia, from where they spread all over Eurasia and Africa in two main migration waves.
The glacial relicts in Lake Peipsi-Pskov
Tarmo Timm explains which relict species from the Ice Age still survive in Lake Peipsi. Among fish species we can mention the vendace and the Peipsi whitefish. The shallow sand bottom of Lake Peipsi is also a refuge for two relict invertebrate species: the amphipod Pallasea quadrispinosa, and the lumbriculid oligochaete Lamprodrilus isoporus. Both species have related species in Lake Baikal, but their origin from Lake Baikal is unclear.
Estonian Nature enquires
Are Kont writes about the impact of Ice Age and the humans on the contemporary terrain.
Evi Padu explains why one tree may have yellow as well as red leaves simultaneously.
The honey-tasting drink from Africa
Urmas Kokassaar introduces a beneficial and tasty tea plant – the honeybush – that has made its way to Estonian store shelves. The author describes the process of collecting and drying the leaves and flowers of honeybush. The species’ natural habitat is very small. Honeybush tea includes no caffeine and is therefore suitable for many people.
Practical tips: Our Boletuses 5
Mall Vaasma, equipped with Vello Liiv’s photos, introduces the last set of Boletus species of Estonia.
Interview: Every signal in nature has its handicap
Juhan Javoiš has interviewed Amotz Zahav, a zoologist.
Practical tips: How to record the sounds of nature 2
Veljo Runnel continues introducing the principles of recording in nature. This time, specific work methods are described: how and where to save the data and how to approach chickenhearted birds.
Practical tips: How to photograph coastal birds
Toomas Ili shares tips to bird photographers: how to take pictures by a waterbody, be it in a shelter or while crawling in the mud. The author gives advice about putting up a shelter and about suitable clothing in case the photographer decides to try the creep-and-crawl method. The lovely close-ups of several waterbirds prove the author’s points well.
Walter Kremser 100
Toivo Meikar recalls the life history of a famous forest researcher, a Baltic German from Estonia. Walter Kremser was born at Järvselja and studied theoretical forestry in the Tartu University. In 1941 he had to leave Estonia, and later became an outstanding forestry official of Saxony-Anhalt. After Estonia regained its independence, Kremser returned here and quickly assembled the overview of the history of Estonian forestry in his rather late days.
The first nature professor of the Tartu University – Gottfried Albrecht Germann
Heldur Sander, Toivo Meikar and Mati Laane write about a scientist who lived 200 years ago: his works laid a foundation to teaching sciences in the newly opened imperial university. Germann was born in Riga (in 1773), but educated also in Germany. He was employed as a professor of Tartu University since 1802 (the year the university was re-opened), and he remained at this position until his death in 1809. His lectures included zoology, botany, and mineralogy, history of fauna, entomology and ornithology. He was also the initiator of founding the Botanical Garden of Tartu.