Summary Eesti Loodus 2014/2

 Summary

Do we know our hares?

Anne Kirk introduces the leporids, focusing on the two species living in Estonia: the primeval white hare (mountain hare) and the newcomer, European hare (brown hare). Both species have become less numerous in our country. Hares resemble rodents, but are different in many ways, especially in the number and position of incisor teeth and the fact, that hares are herbivores. In order to deal with their diet, the hares are coprophagous: they pass food through their digestive systems twice, first expelling it as soft green feces, which they then reingest. Hares are also known for high reproductive activity and interestingly enough, they are able to conceive while still carrying unborn leverets.

The article also provides hint to differentiate between the two quite similar-looking species. One can also read about different myths associated with the animals. As there is inbreeding between the two species, and male European hares have proved to be especially successful, the number of white hares is decreasing and that of brown hares in increasing.

 

How to recognize an insect IV. Bandwings, grasshoppers and others

Mati Martin takes another look at the Polyneoptera infraclass: this time, he centers on bandwings, grasshoppers, earwigs and their closest relatives. Scientifically, the names of the six orders under study are OrthopteraDermapteraGrylloblattodeaPlecopteraEmbioidea, and Zoraptera. The order of Orthoptera is the most numerous and includes many well-known insects, such as bandwings, grasshoppers, crickets and locusts. In Estonia, there are about 40 species of Orthoptera.

 

Nature protection and geotourism on limestone coast

Keeping in mind the Year of the Finnish Gulf, Rein Einasto and Aat Sarv call for taking a closer look at the limestone bluff (klint) that hems our northern coast. Even though the klint is well-known, it is not well protected or used in nature education. It is especially endangered by real estate development, as people are fond of the seaview. The most suffered section extends from Tabasalu to Suurupi, west of Tallinn, where the coast is mostly also closed for public, as the land is privatized.

 

A sea battle at the coast of Saaremaa in 1215. Where was the Portus Novus located?

Jaan Laas picks up where Vello Mäss finished 35 years ago, continuing to solve the questions about the location of an ancient port. The battle of 1215 is rather well documented in Henry’s chronicle of Livonia, where he refers to Portus Novus (New Haven) – a site still not known. The article unwinds different opinions about the location of the port. A new theory by Arvo Seäsk has located the haven to the former Toomalõuka Bay, now situated inland due to the land uplift. However, the author considers Toomalõuka Bay to be the Old Port, as opposed to the „new“ one, which he now places in the area of Lõmala port. Several intriguing thought that have lead the author to his conclusion, are well developed in this exciting article about the past.

 

Interview: The natural sacred groves are the oldest nature protection areas of mankind

Rainer Kerge has interviewed Ahto Kaasik, the head of the Maavalla koda (the organization of native Estonians) and the Centre of Natural Sacred Groves of the Tartu University.

 

Estonian Nature enquires

Heikki Kalle writes about the outcomes of environmental impact assessment of the Rail Baltic project.

Jalmar Mandel introduces the starting work of the Environmental Agency.

 

The Järvselja nature protection area and the hiking trail

Priit Kask shares advice on how to get acquainted with the Järvselja protected area. The area’s forests have been protected and studied since 1924. The protected area encompasses 187 hectares and includes three special protection area. There is hiking trail running along the division lines between forest compartments: one can choose the full 4.5 km track, or its northern (1.7 km) or southern (2.8 km) part. The main sights of interest include test areas, buildings of heritage culture, objects related to forest management, primeval forest, exceptionally high trees and others, some of which are described in the article.

 

175 years of protection forests in Estonia

Toivo Meikar recalls the history of protection forests: the first ones were meant to protect coasts and avoid drifting sands. Based on the 1839 regulation of the Livonian province, the coastal dunes and forests in about 320 m zone from the sea were declared to be protected and not to be cleared. In addition to this, it was prohibited to pick lichens and heather, to dig sods, remove forest litter and lit fires. The article takes a closer look at the circumstances and consequences of this historical regulation.

 

The life of Ludwig Riedel: from Berlin to Tartu, from to Tartu to Brazil, through Europe

Heldur Sander, Wolfgang Ilg, Toivo Meikar and Pedro Luís Rodrigues de Moraes speak highly of the gardener of the Tartu Botanical Gardens, whose contribution remained modest while working in Tartu, but became famous for his expeditions in Brazil. Riedel’s (1790–1861) knowledge of plants was outstanding and he had several influential acquaintances, therefore his career as a gardener in Tartu only lasted for two years (1818–1820), and after that arrived in Salvador, Brazil in 1821. In Brazil he became a famous botanist who helped to introduce numerous plant species to Europe and to supplement European herbariums with the species of Brazil. The herbarium collected by Riedel and Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff includes about 100 000 specimens and has a high scientific value.

 

Tiit Kändler’s essay: Why worry? Science and Arts

An essay about the importance of birds to science, nature protection and nature observations.