Fieid-trip Kostanay and joint research activities

In May 2018, the first joint research expedition in Kostanay region was performed by the ReKKS WP 5 and WP 6 team members. The field-trip aimed (i) to explore the native and agricultural ecosystems and characterise landscape and soil features within the bioclimatic gradient; (ii) to get informed about retrospective and present land use and agricultural approaches; (iii) to identify representative field sites to carry out comparative investigations of ecosystem succession under climatic and antropogenic pressure. Apart of that, the KSPU team started research on biodiversity of soil mesofauna, considered to be a valuable indicator of steppe ecosystem conditions.

The investigated area represents a mosaic of native and agricultural ecosystems, including patches of virgin steppe, abandonet agricultural fields of different ages, as well as long-term pastures and crops under variety of cultivations and fertilization regimes. The area is located along gradient of annual precipitations, changing from 360 mm (in Kostanay district) to 200 mm (in Naurzum district). The soils within the moisture gradient are represented by Chernosems and Kastanosems. During the reconnaissance, KSPU and LUH teams visited the Naurzum State Nature Reserve. Being a part of the UNESCO heritage, the Reserve protects significant area, comprising forest-steppe, steppe and semi-desert bioclimatic zones and thus offers an extraordinal opportunity to carry out research on virgin undisturbed ecosystems of Northern Kazakhstan.

The field campaign was followed by an international seminar hosted by the KSPU. The seminar aimed to report and discuss the first results of joint activities obtained in the frame of the WP 6 of the ReKKS project.

During the seminar, the results of the first phase of the joint research "Dynamics of the changes of steppe ecosystems of Northern Kazakhstan under anthropogenic and climatic factors on the example of soil mesofauna" were reported by the team of Prof. Dr. Tatyana M. Bragina – Director of the Centre of Biological and Ecological Research (KSPU) and the team of Prof. Dr. Georg Guggenberger (LUH).

The KSPU was represented by Vice-rector for Academic Work and Social Affairs Dr. Gulvira Musabekova, Vice-rector of International Affairs, Dr. Eva Smetanova, Dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty Dr. Mikhail Sukhov and the project team of the SRC PEB/KSPU.

Soil profile in virgin steppe, Mendikara district (Chernosem)

Soil profile in cropland, Auliekol district (Kastanosem)

Agricultural fields under different cultivations, Kostanay district

Abandoned cropland („zalej“) under natural restoration, Mendikara district