How to recognize an insect V. The brotherhood of Pediculus humanus and Heteroptera
Mati Martin sheds some more light on the diversity of insects, introducing the last orders of insects featuring hemimetabolism. The focus is turned on Paraneoptera – a monophyletic superorder of insects which includes four orders, the bark lice, true lice, thrips, and hemipterans, the true bugs. The mouthparts of the Paraneoptera reflect diverse feeding habits. Basal groups are microbial surface feeders, whereas more advanced groups feed on plant or animal fluids. True lice include lice hosting on humans: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. Throrough descriptions and a multitude of pictures enable to get acquainted with this diverse world of insects.
Muhu or Jeeriko
Andri Baburin suggests that old world views should be kept in mind when reading and interpreting chronicles. Old chronicles are difficult to interpret, and many locations or events are still vague and not understandable. The author suggests that in medieval times it was not the human, but God who represented the center of the world. Therefore, every chronicle focused on eulogizing the God. The author asserts that events were described in the light of divine creation and the exact facts were not considered important. He looks at our ancient fight for freedom, which we know about from one source only: the Livonian Chronicle of Henry. The author finds numerous interesting ties with the Bible.
Estonian Nature enquires
Allan Selin explains the reasons for choosing a butterfly of the year, the European peacock.
Meel Valk introduces the initiative „Live in the country“ helps families dreaming about moving rural communities.
The underground flow-ways of the Nabala-Tuhala area speak about sensitive environment
Heiki Potter continues introducing the natural values of the soon-to-be-founded protected area, focusing on a problem that does not exist for many people. The Nabala-Tuhala area, which was threatened by extensive limestone mining, is soon to be protected as a karst area. There is an interesting natural phenomenon in the area, related to karst: mysterious underground rivers, which so far have been quite poorly mapped. Several rivers have been discovered by water diviners, who claim that there are still about 6–7 undiscovered riverbeds underneath the ground. The author shares the knowledge the scientists and water diviners have gained so far.
Winter charms and dangers on cliff coast
Rein Einasto admires the geological sights of interest on our northern coast. Wintertime offers especially magnificent views, when water freezes and huge systems of icicles are formed. In springtime, however, one has to be extra careful when walking on or under the cliff, as melting snow can cause major rock wall failures.
Moonworts without chlorophyll
Tõnu Ploompuu introduces a discovery of a fern, which is unique in the whole world. Last year Estonian botanists discovered a small group of moonwort Botrychium matricariifolium growing near Lake Paidra, Võrumaa. Interestingly enough, the plants lacked any chlorophyll. This is the first finding of fully mycoheterotrophic Pteridophyta in the world. The author explains the nature of myco-heterotrophy: it is a symbiotic relationship between certain kinds of plants and fungi, in which the plant gets all or part of its food from parasitism upon fungi rather than from photosynthesis. Full myco-heterotrophy exists when a non-photosynthetic plant (a plant largely lacking in chlorophyll or otherwise lacking a functional photosystem) gets all of its food from the fungi that it parasitizes.
Interview: Mycorrhiza is important for plants as well as for mycologists
Toomas Kukk has interviewed Leho Tedersoo, a mycologist and the laureate of National Science Prize of Estonia.
Afforestation of reclaimed oil shale quarries has become a focus of international interest
Monika Kopti gives an overview of restoring artificial landscapes in North-East Estonia, stating that our experiences offer interest for the whole world. The quarries of Narva, Aidu and Sirgala have been afforested since 1960ies, so the oldest forests are almost 50 years old. In recent decade, the reclaimed oil shale mining areas have been visited by many international groups showing interest in our experience. Also, as the forested areas and afforestation attempts have been surveyed systematically, scientific articles have been published.
Jüri Kamenik portrays eye-catching natural phenomena, which can be followed all year through, if there are atmospheric ice crystals in the upper troposphere. Basically, a halo is an optical phenomenon produced by ice crystals creating colored or white arcs and spots in the sky. Many are near the sun or moon but others are elsewhere and even in the opposite part of the sky. They can also form around artificial lights in very cold weather when ice crystals called diamond dust are floating in the nearby air. There are many types of ice halos, the most common being the 22° halo, forming a circle 22° around the sun. The author describes thoroughly this and other halo phenomena, such as circumscribed halo, circumhorizontal arc, subparhelic circle, 46° halo, anthelions, light pillars, glory and others, all well caught on pictures.
Man and wild animal: is it an impassable contradiction?
Liina Gross wonders how to stop the seemingly inevitable extinction of tiger population. She spent some time in the Kanha reservation in Central India, staying with a family devoted to protecting tigers. The reservation has about 73–105 Bengal tigers and it is estimated that there about 3000–3600 tigers living free in the world. Three of the 8 subspecies have become extinct in last 60 years. The major threat for the tigers is poaching. Although tiger hunt was prohibited in 1972, the smuggling of animals has become a well-organized mafia. The reasons for poaching are poverty, but also resentment against tigers, as no human activity is allowed in the tiger reservations and whole villages are made to move. The author gives an exciting overview of the complicated aspects related to tiger protection, poaching and smuggling in nowadays India.
Alexander Georg von Bunge’s herbarium
Aino Kalda and Kaili Orav describe the collecting interest of the great botanist of the 19th-century Estonia and emphasize the impact of his collections on nowadays botanical science. Bunge started his exact collection in 1849, when he lived in Tartu was the head of the Chair of Botany of the Tartu University. The authors describe the structure of the herbarium, and the logic behind the order of succession of plants in the collection, which was based on the system used in „Flora Rossica“. There were at least 35 other collectors who contributed for the herbarium.
Tiit Kändler’s essay: History starts from a ditch