Grey Herons Destroy Forests in Tatarstan: Research Findings

Scientists from Kazan Federal University and St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University “LETI” conducted a study, which showed that the pine forest in Tatarstan is dying because of the products of the herons. Since 2006, these birds have destroyed more than a thousand trees. Gazeta.Ru” reports about it with reference to the Ministry of Education and Science.

Researchers have studied the gap, a gap free of trees over a hundred meters in diameter in the forest near the river Meshi. Because of its size the gap was visible even from a satellite. It turned out that the satellite image from 2009 already showed negative changes.

The start of forest decline coincided with the settlement of a colony of gray herons in 2006-2007. Now there are more than 300 nests here.

Scientists found that the droppings and feathers of birds have changed the microbial and chemical composition of the soil. The concentration of phosphorus was about ten times higher than in the forested area, located 500 meters from the glade. In addition, the waste of herons made the soil more acidic, and the content of manganese and cobalt, essential for plants and bacteria, was lower than in a healthy forest.

Soil microbiota is a critical ecosystem parameter that affects the animals and plants of the ecosystem and serves as a marker of its sustainability. Under the nests, soil microbiota biodiversity is significantly lower, i.e., dysbiosis is observed, which indicates the negative impact of the bird colony on the soil.

Pine forest was planted in Tatarstan in 1983 to strengthen the banks of the Mesh. The trees in this forest are relatively young, which is probably why they were not resistant to birds. Older trees would most likely have withstood the chemical effects of bird droppings.

Environmentalists are concerned that gray herons may be destroying not only the pine forest in Tatarstan, but other forested areas as well. After all, these birds nest throughout Russia and can have a serious impact on the ecosystem.

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