Memories from our "field laboratory" at Cep II sand pit

A place called a lagune. Six years ago flooded with water, nowadays dry and fast overgrowing. In 2015, we did not swim, but did science in practice: monitoring of aquatic macrophytes and plants of emerged bottoms!When comparing older photographs with those from this year, we are amazed by the speed of succession. The only spots with bare sand can be found only in places used for recreational activities (i.e. sunbathing, swimming) in the summer, and on the exposed tops of our experimental hills, which successfully slow down the succession (for details, hover your mouse over the photos). Experimental hills - they effectively slow down the succession! During a sunny day, you can still hear buzzing.A slope where we also established monitoring sites. In the background, there is a freshly established forestry reclamation. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to go through the tree stand in the background. The slopes also overgrow, although more slowly.

Flowering strips are already waking up

Despite the weather, the flowering strips in the Stromovka city park start to wake up, and the sown species have already appear - Centaurea spp., Achillea millefolium, Leonurus cardiaca, Silene spp. and others. We firmly hope that there will be many more during the vegetation season.

One of the flowering strips needed a little help because it was poorly established from the beginning and did not prosper well. Nevertheless, we have already noticed several rosettes of Leonurus cardiaca, a favorite plant of insects. We believe that our intervention will help the flowering strip to thrive and that all the strips will make insects and also people happy.

The first field trip of this season

The official start of the vegetation season turned out great - we did not freeze... well, almost. Yesterday, we discussed establishment of new monitoring plots for sheep grazing in Žďár nad Sázavou. For example, we are going to sample Zelená hora (a famous hill with Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk, a World Heritage Site)! The city of Žďár nad Sázavou is preparing a project that includes a number of changes in the city's greenery and the surrounding landscape. They plan to use spontaneous and assisted succession - green field edges, flowering strips, shallow water pools, species-rich meadows, or new avenues (lines of woody species along a straight path or road) should be created. All that remains is to keep your fingers crossed that the project will be realized.

Rejuvenated sand dune

Last autumn, we organized a "relaxing" activity for colleagues from our department, during which we weeded the sand dune at the faculty garden. The reason was that the reopening of sandy patches is necessary not only to support the desired vegetation, but especially the solitary bees and wasps. And how does the sand dune look like now? In some places, small rosettes of the small cudweed (Filago minima) and the dwarf everlast (Helichrysum arenarium) can already be seen. However, it was almost impossible to work on the sand dune, as solitary bees buzzed and crawled everywhere.

Last field work at our peatbog project

The last field work of this year included collection of groundwater samples and counting of surviving bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) saplings on experimental plots. It was cold, but in the end the sun warmed our chilly fingers! In the Soumarský most peat bog, the bog cranberry has germinated and survives on the exposed peat, which is strange because it is actually a "climax" species. Life is full of paradoxes! :-)

On the sand - or return to the childhood

The dominant feature of the faculty garden, the sand dune, has begun to be overgrown by sedges (namely Carex hirta) and other undesirable species in its lower part. Therefore, it was necessary to make a radical intervention, take shovels with us and start to weed. This is the only way how to reopen suitable habitats for target psammophilous species. Our colleagues from the department also came to support us. Not only us, but especially the target organisms thank for their help! 

End of the vegetation season

One of the last field trips of this season traditionally led to the Cep II sand pit - specifically to "the Klara's island" and "the Chessboard", where we have established permanent plots for monitoring of restoration of dry grasslands by biomass transfer. After five years, the island was ungrazed this year, thus the expansive grass Calamagrostis epigejos began to spread again in some plots. Trees also grew significantly. On the other hand, the expansively behaving Lotus corniculatus withdrew quite surprisingly even without grazing. Many plots, especially those with transferred biomass from sand dunes, still looked very nice, and the target species clearly predominated.

On the Chessboard, it seems that the type of substrate (clay vs. sand) does not play a big role. It is more important whether biomass has been transferred to the plot or not. Even a small amount of biomass can direct the succession to the target state (e.i. dry grasslands) very well. However, in case that organic material covers the plot, the succession will approach towards more nutritious stands, and woody species will also play a significant role.

New successional series and new grazing locality

At the end of August, we sampled well-known dumps after uranium mining in Jáchymov. Thanks to a cooperation with the archeologist Michal Preusz, we know the age of the localities, and we managed to compile another series into our DaSS database.

Some of us then continued to the Nature reserve Baroch near Pardubice where we checked a new locality for the monitoring of the impact of grazing on wetland vegetation. Recently, three Exmoor ponies have been transported there. After two weeks in the reserve they dared to enter the reed stand. In the coming seasons, we will see what effect will grazing have on the reed stand, and whether it will be beneficial for herbs and orchids.

We thank Michal and employees of the Nature Conservation Agency and Regional Authority of the Pardubice Region for their time and support in the field.

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