Ministry of natural resources of the Russian federation

       Polistovsky National Nature Reserve

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The main directions of research on the territory of the Reserve

The Polistovo-Lovatskaya system is one of the largest and best preserved in Europe systems of raised bogs. Its area is about 250 thousand ha, and about half of the territory is protected. The Polistovo-Lovatskaya system is like a watershed slope bog referring to the system of oligotrophic bogs. The raised bog area has a lot of peaks as it was formed by the merge of several independent marshes. And first of all, the Polistovo-Lovatskaya system is of interest as an object of study for telmathologists. Besides the fact that it is the largest and most well-preserved raised bog system in Europe, what in and of itself may be of interest, this bog system has many features that may be subject to research and study. In particular, for hydrologists it may be of interest to study topographic features. A characteristic feature of the Polistovo-Lovatsky raised bog system is the abundance of medium-sized rivers, streams and lakes. Channels of most rivers are complex (open, under-moss type, flowing under the moss, buried - flowing inside peat deposits). It also may be a subject to study.

        In the territory if the Reserve there are also large lakes interesting for hydrologists, hydrobiologists, algologists, ichthyologists. Large lakes on the massif are located mainly in groups. Within the Reserve, there is a northern group consisting of three lakes - Russkoye (area 390 hectares), Mezhnitskoye (90 hectares) and Kokarevskoye (33 hectares), which used to form a coherent whole. Lakes of the Polistovo-Lovatskaya raised bog system, just like lake of raised bogs, are characterized by poor water calcium, high in humic substances, poor of phytoplankton and rich in zooplankton (from Cladocera and Copepoda). 
        A very substantial part of the raised bog landscape is plenty of lakes scattered among the moss cover and forming ridge-lakelet or ridge-hollow-lakelet complexes. One can find a rare form of Willkommii pine; its height is usually less than 1 m, and Pumila forms, wide curtains of which rise over the moss on 20-40 cm; their presence does not violate the general impression of treelessness. In addition to them, there are more isolated thin birches (Betula pendula) up to 2,5 m high. In hollows the predominant flora comprises the vegetative association Scheuchzer swamp - mud sedge - Sphagnum cuspidatum, where one can often see hollows with the cover of liverworts, windows of denuded peat. A ridge-hollow complex, dedicated to the slopes, occupies the largest area among all complexes of the Polistovo-Lovatsky massif. Besides, one of the most common wetland complexes are swamps of marginal areas formed under conditions of very poor drainage and heavy influx of water from the elevated parts of the bog or from a mineral shore. The most characteristic features of marginal wetlands are constant high water content, a very smooth surface, and the almost complete treelessness. In places where the mineral bottom is close to the surface of a peat massif, fairly large reeds can grow. Often one can observe washout with bare peat.
        In this connection, the Polistovo-Lovatskaya raised bog system may be of a great interest also for geobotanists, bryologists and lichenologists, telmathologists (study of peat). 
Among the raised bog massif one can observe mineral islands of two types: high (up to 9 meters above bogs), small in size and relatively low, with gentle slopes, but often occupying a large area. Researches of inner bog islands are of interest for ornithologists and geobotanists. 
        In addition, one can also find interesting climatological and meteorological researches because such a large area of raised bogs certainly has a significant climate-making effect. In general, the climate of the Polistovo-Lovatskaya bog system is moderately continental. 
The territory of the Polistovsky Reserve may be of interest to entomologists, arachnologists, mammalogists and certainly for environmentalists, as well as scientists in many other specialties. 
        Today, the own staff and specialists of the Reserve and other organizations conduct studies on the following directions.

Botany and geobotany. The main objectives of this trend are identification of floristic diversity of the Polistovsky Reserve and the accurate description of distribution of each species on the territory, description of plant communities of individual well-delineated areas of the Reserve, as well as successions of bog vegetation.
The territory of the Polistovsky Reserve was exposed to the first stage of inventory work; it covered only a part of the Reserve and its buffer zone. In analyzing the lichen flora of the Polistovsky Reserve scientists underlined the occurrence of each species in the territory (N.B.Istomina, Report 2000). In 2007 the work was continued, the common list of lichen flora was enlarged (Shchepkina, 2007, Report). In general, it is shown that the lichen flora of the Polistovsky State Nature Reserve is represented by categories of natural and weakly disturbed habitats. The presence at the territory of the Reserve of species - bioindicators (of the genera Usnea, Bryoria, Ramalina, Cladonia) allows us to use lichens in the system of ecological monitoring of the area.
Algae. The species composition of algae of the Polistovo-Lovatskaya bog system was studied by specialists of IBIW of the Russian Academy of Sciences; the majority of samples was collected in the State Naturе Reserve 'Rdeysky'. There was identified the composition of centric diatoms. Based on these results, there was produced a nomenclatural combination and found two species, which were new to science. Their description is being prepared for publication. Most of identified species are rare for the flora of Russia, neighboring countries and Europe; the systematic list contains the data about exact findings from other habitats, indicating that the flora of the studied massif is unique. (Kulikovsky, Report 2005). Scientists have studied the species composition and abundance of phytoplankton of Lake Polisto adjacent to the Reserve. There were revealed certain regularities in the distribution of algae in the waters of the reservoir. The water quality was assessed by the saprobity index. The index values were calculated using the species composition and abundance of indicator species of algae (Sudnitsina D.N., Report, 2000).
Mosses. In 2007 there was an inventory of sphagnum moss in the territory of the Polistovsky Reserve. There was determined the species composition of Sphagnum moss and types of plant communities formed by species of this genus in the Polistovsky Reserve. For the first time for the Reserve, an annotated list of species of sphagnum moss was compiled. A demonstration herbarium was made up for the most common species. It was suggested to find a few more rare species and their expected habitats (Kovalevich, Report, 2007). Other groups of mosses are much rarer, usually they can be found in the forest part of the Reserve. Their inventory has not been yet undertaken.
Higher plants. 
The first list of flora of the Polistovsky Reserve and its environs was drafted in 1999 by G.Y.Konechnaya and V.G.Sergienko; this lists included 468 species noted by the authors in the reserve and its surroundings - in the buffer zone and outside it. The collected material is stored at the Department of Botany, Biological Faculty of St.-Petersburg University, some duplicates are stored in the herbarium of the Komarov Botanical Institute and the Polistovsky Reserve. The work on the inventory of flora of the reserve and the buffer zone was continued in 2003-2006. (Reshetnikova et al, 2006). Objectives of the study included the separation of flora of the Reserve and the buffer zone (total found 594 species and hybrids of vascular plants). There were identified species growing just in the Reserve (449 species and hybrids); their distribution and frequency was analyzed, then separate lists for each tract were compiled. The descriptions show not only the presence of species, but also their habitat in the wooded area. Experts made 83 descriptions of 52 stows, a herbarium (about 500 sheets); the samples were submitted to the Herbarium of Lomonosov Moscow State University.
This line of research involves keeping a calendar of nature, registration of seasonal processes and phenomena on the territory of the Reserve. This calendar is maintained is under the program 'Nature Chronicles' adopted in the State Nature Reserve. The staff of the Polistovsky Reserve makes observations of seasonal phenomena of inanimate nature as well as seasonal changes in the life of plants and animals. Phenological observations in the Reserve are made by researchers and inspectors of protection; the latter regularly visit the Reserve and may timely note changes in the nature.
Compared with other types of continental waters, the hydrobiological administration of bog systems is not yet properly studied. Hydrobiological studies of the Polistovsky Reserve are being conducted since 2005 together with IBIW of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They relate both to the composition of aquatic fauna and the overall organization of gidrobiocoenoses, their structure and patterns of operation. The taxonomical and trophic structure of zooplankton of different types of reservoirs in the territory of the Reserve has been already studied. The Reserve holds regular observations on lakes Dolgoye and Krugloye, the river Khlavitsa and diverse secondary reservoirs. Some hydrochemical parameters (pH, dissolved oxygen, total hardness, permanganate oxidation) of data reservoirs and streams are analyzed. (Cherevichko, 2005, 2007). There has been analyzed seasonal and interannual dynamics of quantitative indicators (number and biomass) of zooplankton of some lakes, rivers and secondary reservoirs. The inventory of the aquatic macroinvertebrate fauna has been initiated. Also the Polistovsky Reserve conducts studies on accumulation and distribution of mercury in biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems of the raised bog, which are known to have entered the ecosystem with precipitations. There have been found exceeding of the maximum allowable concentrations of mercury in the muscles of perch inhabiting the lakes of the Reserve. (Komov, Report, 2005).
Specialists-ornithologists are studying species composition, biology and ecology of breeding birds of raised bogs, forests and water-side habitats of the Polistovsky Reserve and adjacent areas to conduct ornithological monitoring on permanent routes, as well as the observation of birds migrating in swamps and woods and the Nature Reserve buffer zone. The basic material on ornithofauna of raised bogs on the Reserve was collected between 2001 and 2005. (Yablokov, 2006). The composition and structure of the avifauna of raised bogs was given in detail. In the present study researchers attempted to assess the state of populations of some species of birds found in bogs and the area in need of protection, there were proposed conservation status of 26 most vulnerable and protection-needing species that can be used to establish a regional Red Data Book. The Polistovsky Reserve conducts surveys of birds with different systematic position and ecology. Regular routes cover all major natural systems of the Reserve and its buffer zone (forest, marsh and wetland habitats). The surveys are conducted at least 3 times in the breeding period and further during the winter according to the standard technique (Ravkin, Chelintsev, 1997). The results are recalculated per area unit and allow us to estimate the species and quantitative composition of the avifauna of the Reserve and adjacent territories, and its inter-annual dynamics. Parallel to the mapping of habitats of different species of birds, the attention is put to rare and protected species.
To date, scientists determined the species composition of mammals of the Polistovsky Reserve and the buffer zone (Novikova T.A., Report, 2004). The Polistovsky Reserve is identifying in detail the species diversity of rodents and small insectivores that live in the Reserve, as well as the seasonal and long-term population dynamics of dominant species. The recordings of rodents are conducted by standard methods (catching by Hero traps permanent credentials lines). The data was obtained on the number of rodents and small insect-eating mammals, on the biology and ecology of species. Researchers started to collect the material for a comparative analysis of the phene bank of populations of common species of mustelids of the Polistovsky Reserve (Korablev P.N., Report, 2004). The Reserve regularly holds winters route recordings for hunting game animals for determining the number of species of large mammals; the inspector staff of the Reserve takes an active part on these recordings.

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