Ferns at Tallinn Botanic Garden
Research on rare and endangered fern species at Tallinn Botanic Garden aims to determine vital stages and events in the life cycle of different species and their specific habitat requirements.
Ferns are difficult group of plants to study as their life cycle consist of two generations – gametophytes and sporophytes. For the survival of natural population, it is essential that habitat conditions suit both for the development of gametophytes, which are few millimetres in size, and full size mature sporophytes (plants producing spores). Fertilization and development of young fern plants (sporelings) takes place on gametophytes.
Gametophyte generation and transitions to the sporophyte generation are rather complicated to study in natural conditions. For this reason, gametophytes of different species, their development and specific details of reproduction are studied experimentally in laboratory conditions at Tallinn Botanic Garden. Simultaneously, species specific propagation protocols are elaborated.
The monitoring of natural populations in their natural habitat gives relevant information about population dynamics and critical changes of the species condition. The artificial establishment and restoration of populations of endangered fern species is studied both in specifically designed artificial habitats in Tallinn Botanic Garden (endangered species of local importance), and on Kauai island of Hawaiian Islands (endangered species of global importance).
The ultimate goal of the fern research at Tallinn Botanic Garden is to elaborate methods for ex situ propagation and, where necessary, reinforce and restore the populations of endangered fern species.