VolSU ecologists investigated the Volga-Akhtuba floodplain

2nThe mushroom season is coming to an end, but the cooperation of the Department of Ecology and Nature Management of Volgograd State University with the Regional Nature Committee and Volga-Akhtuba floodplain Nature Park continues. A group of students of the department carried out works on the detection and documentation of the Red List mushrooms in the territory of Nature Park.

This event was not just a walk in the autumn forest, but a serious contemplative search, the results of which will form the basis for reports and publications revealing trends in changing conditions of the unique natural object existence. Geotags assigned to the discovered representatives of the species Arched Earthstar (Geastrum fornicatum) will complement the interactive map of the occurrence of the Red List species.

“This mushroom, whose fruiting body have a very unusual appearance, is inedible. It is spread in Europe and America, but is extremely rare and prone to extinction,” says Dr. Nikolai Onistratenko from the Department of Biology. He also highlights a high role of fungi, including arched earthstar, in the stability of floodplain ecosystems. In addition to increasing the bioaccessibility of dead vegetation substances, the mycelium connects herbage and trees through a branched all-pervading mycelial mycorrhizal network. The loss of fungal species from the community leads to the accumulation of dead organic matter, biogenic cycle deceleration, breaking of food chains and destruction of ecosystems.

The data collected by the students of the department will help to ensure better control of the protected areas state and will increase the targeting of endangered species protection measures.

Besides, during the investigation of the floodplain oak forest, the participants collected seed material: a small amount of acorns for an experiment on growing these plants. Later the oak trees grown from these seed will be planted in the oak forest which is being created by the efforts of students and professors of the department on the territory of Volgograd State University.

The students noted that the fieldwork enhanced their practical expertise, allowed them to communicate with professionals representing Nature Park and the regional administration, as well as to establish interpersonal interaction. Active work outdoors and interaction with mother nature will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on the students’ health.

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