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.

Monitoring of succession in dust bath places

In recent days, we have visited the former military training area Milovice again where herds of European bisons, Exmoor ponies, and aurochs currently graze. This time we sampled the vegetation of so-called dust bath places created due to comfort behaviour of animals. The turf is disturbed and the space for colonization by new plant species is opened. Moreover, just imagine how many new seeds will fall out of a cute cub during dust-bathing games.... a lot!

Work in our "field laboratory" stops for some time

Our "field laboratory" in the Cep II sand pit was designed in the autumn of 2012 thanks to a cooperation of the mining company, scientists and the Administration of the PLA Třeboňsko. Since 2013, we have regularly monitored the development of vegetation in plots with different slopes, or landscaping, and in forestry reclaimed plots. In collaboration with entomologists, selected groups of insects have also been monitored. However, the attention of our group is currently shifting to projects related to the effect of grazing of large herbivores on vegetation, and urban ecology (especially flowering strips). Therefore, after six years of intensive monitoring, last year and this year the vegetation sampling took place only in plots that were originally designed as shallow or periodically flooded, but due to drop of water table in the mining lake, they became dry shortly after construction. We will continue to monitor the development of vegetation in our "field laboratory", from now on in longer intervals though.

A new book of Karel Prach and Lawrence Walker

Karel Prach and his colleague Lawrence R Walker published the book entitled Comparative Plant Succession among Terrestrial Biomes of the World. It is a comprehensive summary of his lifelong research on plant succession.

Flowering strips for the second time

Althoug the weather was not too good, we enjoyed a lot of fun anyway. This time we met during the sampling of flowering strips in the campus of the Faculty of Science USB and the Biology Centre CAS. Some parts of the strips are overgrown with grasses, we however believe that everything will turn out well, and that with extensive management we can suppress the grasses and let the sown herbs stand out in full beauty.

Thanks Petra J. for the photos.


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