The way to the North: joint Russian-German field trip

A two-week field trip and summer school on the ecology, cultural history and development of Western Siberia was organised by Tyumen State University and the SASCHA project coordinators at Münster University. From 27 July to 9 August 2015, twenty-six Russian and German students teamed up to explore the region. The group crossed different ecozones from south to north, starting at the meadow steppes near the Kazakh border and reaching the boreal forests and mires of the Russian Taiga near Khanty-Mansiisk. The enthusiastic group gained many new insights into the biodiversity, land use, oil-industry, history and the life of indigenous people of Western Siberia.

Press release of Tyumen State University (in Russian).

(Click pictures to enlarge. All pictures © Johannes Kamp)

The expedition route - it took us longer than google suggests...

The expedition route – it took us slightly longer than google suggests…

Meadow steppe near the Kazakh border.

Meadow steppe near the Kazakh border.

Field lab at the Ishim river slopes.

Field lab at the Ishim river slopes.

Enthusiastic botanists compiled long plant lists.

Enthusiastic botanists compiled long plant lists.

Wormwood (Artemisia) is best identified by smell!

Wormwood (Artemisia) is best identified by smell!

Botanist perspective.

Botanist perspective.

Butterflies were impressive - and easily identified as we had experts of the local fauna among us.

Butterfly richness was impressive – and species easily identified as we had experts of the local fauna among us.

Amanda's Blue (Polyommatus amandus)

Amanda’s Blue (Polyommatus amandus)

A flower-visiting noctuid moth (Chersotis spec.)

A flower-visiting noctuid moth (Chersotis spec.)

Explaining the differences between two butterfly species.

Explaining the differences between two butterfly species.

Recapitulation of plant names.

Recapitulation of plant names.

Signs of post-Soviet abandonment in a formerly livestock-rich region.

Signs of post-Soviet abandonment in a formerly livestock-rich region.

The local youth came round for an interview about our activities.

The local youth came round for an interview about our activities.

Hay meadows cover vast areas.

Hay meadows cover vast areas.

Moor frog - a common species in W Siberia.

Moor frog – a common species in W Siberia.

Alkali grassland on saline Solonetz soils.

Alkali grassland on saline Solonetz soils with Sea Lavender (Limonium).

Traditional cattle breeding.

Traditional cattle breeding.

Moving out of the forest steppe zone: a transitional mire near Tyumen.

Moving out of the forest steppe zone: a transitional mire near Tyumen.

Fun in the bogs.

Fun in the bogs.

Explaining peat formation.

Explaining peat formation.

Clourful butterflies again (Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae)

Colourful butterflies again (Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae)

... and interesting caterpillars (Bedstraw Hawk-Moth, Hyles gallii)

… and interesting caterpillars (Bedstraw Hawk-Moth, Hyles gallii)

Orgyia antiquoides caterpillar, a bog specialist.

Orgyia antiquoides caterpillar, a bog specialist.

Some culture for a change: city tour in Tobolsk, former capital of Siberia.

Some culture for a change: city tour in Tobolsk, former capital of Siberia.

Tobolsk monastery.

Tobolsk monastery.

Restored orthodox church from the inside.

Restored orthodox church from the inside.

Absorbed group leader.

Absorbed group leader.

Contemplation in scarves.

Contemplation in scarves.

On the walls of the kremlin.

On the walls of the kremlin.

Rural Tobolsk.

Rural Tobolsk.

Proceeding north - the floodplain of river Irtysh.

Proceeding north – the floodplain of river Irtysh.

No oil was found when drilling deep here but hot water - a saline geyser in Siberia.

No oil was found when drilling deep here but hot water – a saline geyser in Siberia.

Anyone up for a hot shower?

Anyone up for a hot shower?

Reaching the Taiga - Irtish floodplain N of Tobolsk.

Reaching the Taiga – Irtish floodplain N of Tobolsk.

Irtysh river.

Irtysh river.

Productive old-growth Taiga forest.

Productive old-growth Taiga forest.

Last leg of the tour - Khanty-Mansiisk at the confluence of the rivers Irtysh and Ob - a massive floodplain.

Last leg of the tour – Khanty-Mansiisk at the confluence of the rivers Irtysh and Ob. A massive floodplain.

Lots of water for this time of the year.

Lots of water for this time of the year.

River confluence - Irtysh in the foreground, Ob further back.

River confluence – Irtysh in the foreground, Ob further back.

The birdwatchers got up early and found many Siberian species.

The birdwatchers got up early and found many Siberian species.

Lichen-rich pine forest.

Lichen-rich pine forest.

Massive expanses of untouched bogs characterize the area of Khanty-Mansiisk.

Massive expanses of untouched bogs characterize the area around Khanty-Mansiisk.

Explaining bog zonation and morphology.

Explaining bog zonation and morphology.

Staying in the drier parts...

Staying in the drier parts…

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea), a bog specialist.

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea), a bog specialist.

Forests grow only as 'islands'.

Forests grow only as ‘islands’.

Illustrating the water-holding capacity of Sphagnum mosses.

Illustrating the water-holding capacity of Sphagnum mosses.

Traditional way to cross wet parts of the bog.

Traditional way to cross wet parts of the bog.

Various species of berries were consumed in large quantities.

Various sorts of berries were consumed in large quantities.

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