Summary Eesti Loodus 2014/1

 Summary

The unnoticed, yet conspicuous kingfisher

Tuul Sepp discusses why the bird of the year – the kingfisher – has such a flamboyant plumage, great fishing skills and a messy nest. Both male and female kingfishers have fancy feathers, and they both take care of their offspring. They are extremely fast, but can also hover in mid-air, just like hummingbirds. In general, the kingfishers are very solitary and territorial. Their life is full of dangers, and most individuals only survive for one generative season. The main threat is cold: freezing rivers mean a disaster for kingfisher community. The kingfishers are considered as indicators of favourable environmental conditions.

 

Estonian Nature enquires

Alar Astover explains why 2014 has been declared as the Year of Cambisoils.

Kunter Tätte describes the essence of people living or related to the Island of Vilsandi.

 

The present day of the Vilsandi national park, the cradle of Estonian nature protection

Kaja Lotman’s article is a prelude to a series of articles dedicated to the 20th birthday of the Vilsandi national park, and gives an overview of the natural values and management plan of the park. Estonian first protected area was founded on the Vaika Islands, located in nowadays Vilsandi national park. The national park includes 3 Important Bird Areas and 3 Natura 2000 areas. It is major nesting, migration, stopover or wintering area for several waterfowl. But the park encompasses also other natural values: mammals (esp. seals), amphibians, fish, invertebrates, flora (esp alvars and alvar forests), fungi, and important habitats, such as reefs and small islets, coastal meadows, alvars, spring fens, old-growth forests, geological objects, and old villages.

 

Who discovered Vilsandi?

Tõnu Talvi recalls the story of discovering the islands of Vaika and Vilsandi: geologists and botanists took interest in the islands before the ornithologists did. The first settlers inhabited the island in the 17th century. The first professional scientist to visit Vilsandi was botanist Friedrich Carl Schmidt. He was also the one to iniate geological research in the area, as he noticed Silurian formations and fossils that were exposed in several places on the mainland and on the islands of the area.

 

The fish fauna of the Vilsandi national park

Aare Verliin introduces an important topic for the islanders and coastal dwellers: the fish resources of the surrounding sea. The waters of the park offer a wide scale of different habitats, ranging from stony open sea bottoms to low, soft-bottom brackish waters in the bays. The area is known for two valuable fish species: the eel and the powan. Other main species are turbot, pike, perch, ide, Baltic herring, Baltic sprat and herring. The author also introduces the results of several monitoring studies done in the waters of Vilsandi.

 

Why record Estonian nature?

Ivo Kruusamägi sums up Vikipedia’s 4th photo contest HELP4 or Good Pictures of Estonian Nature. The campaign resulted in 540 new photos from 21 participants. A number of the new photos are presented in the following pages.

 

A view to the Saesaare artificial lake

Ain Erik is convinced that the Saesaare artificial lake should be retained as it is, as numerous wonderful views to the surrounding nature can be enjoyed from the lake. The beauty of the lake and the sandstone denudations play important roles in environmental education and tourism economy. The author, who has been observing the nature of the area over 30 years, is convinced that the utmost beauty of the lake exceeds the importance of recreating habitats for fish.

 

The limestone richness of the coastal areas of West-Saaremaa

Rein Einasto describes the geological and paleontological sights of interest of the Vilsandi national park. The Silurian limestone basement is exposed as a stone floor and a bank escarpment along the coastline. Several of the strata hold a generous amount of fossils, and recent years’ heavy storms have revealed new denudations.

 

The memory landscapes of Vilsandi national park, from the point of view of a folklorist

Mari-Ann Remmel has collected the older and newer layers of the local’s ideas on locality, in order to create the web map of mental landscapes of the park. As expected, the number of place names related to sea and coast outnumbered others. There were also many stories related to large and/or sacrificial stones, but also springs, single trees, as well as buildings. Most certainly it’s the people who give the meaning to localities. The people who have stayed in the area, are characterized by strong sense of locality. However, the tradition of storytelling is on the wane.

 

Interview: The history of land use is the key to the species diversity of meadows

Toomas Kukk has interviewed Triin Reitalu, a plant ecologist.

 

How to recognize an insect III. Phthiraptera

Mati Martin continues introducing the diversity of insects, focusing on four important orders of the Polyneoptera infraclass, order Phthiraptera, who are characterized by hemimetabolism, or incomplete metamorphosis: the mode of development that includes three distinct stages: the egg, nymph, and the adult stage. These insects go through gradual changes; there is no pupal stage. The nymph often somewhat resembles the adult stage but lacks wings and functional reproductive organs. The four orders discussed here are the cockroaches (Blattodea), Phasmoptera, termites (Isoptera) and Mantophasmatodea. Abundant photos help to understand the diverse and rich world of insects.

 

The page of a science journalist: The inevitability of anonymous affairs

Tiit Kändler discusses the inevitability of anonymous web comments as well as nameless natural phenomena. He claims that anonymity is the base of human culture, as it is altruistic cooperativeness by its essence. Life in a whole is anonymous, he states.

 

Why is the Nabala area going to be a protected area?

Kalev Sepp and Urmas Tartes give an overview of the natural values of a new protected area on the border of Harju and Rapla counties. The area is an important karst area, symbolized by the Tuhala “witch well”. During the past three years, Nabala area has been much studied, as a reaction to the plan to start mining limestone in the area. In addition to karst phenomena, the area comprises species-rich eutrophic swamps and spring fens, old-growth forests, but also several protected bird species and plant species.