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CONSERVATION OF STEPPES IN RUSSIA
Project UNDP/GEF Improving the Coverage and Management Efficiency of Protected Areas in the Steppe Biome of Russia
ПРООН ГЭФ Минприроды России
This website was created and is supported by the UNDP / GEF / Ministry of Russia project "Improving the coverage and management efficiency of protected areas in the steppe biome of Russia"

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Steppes diversity: Longitudinal zonation

Steppes range is stretched along most of Eurasia length from west to east (from about 15° to 115° E). On this gradient there are several longitudinal sectors (in general – up to seven, five of them are situated in Russia). The boundary of the highest rank is held between the steppes of Black Sea – Kazakhstan and East Siberian-Central Asian (= Daurian-Mongolian) types, about through the Altai and the Yenisei. Accordingly to botanical-geographical zoning this is the boundary between two main subregions of Steppe region of Eurasia (Lavrenko et al, 1991; Koroliuk, 2002). 

The differences between sectors are numerous. In particular a number of typical for steppes species, genuses and even families of plants and animals is limited by only one of subregions. For example in the motley grass of eastern steppes the species of Cymbaria, Saposhnikovia, Filifolium, Panzeria, Schizonepeta, Stellera, Lespedeza play the important role while in the Black Sea-Kazakhstan sector they are almost absent. But at the same time Trinia, Seseli, Crambe, Salvia, Verbascum, Tulipa, Ornithogalum and many other genuses don’t participate in formation of Daurian-Mongolian sector. The habitual for steppes of the Don and Volga regions feather grasses Stipa and Barbata play important role only in the western sector of steppe zone but in the eastern sector the feather grasses with glabrate arista Capillatae (=Leiostipa) and Smirnovia occupy their place. The essential role of prevernal ephemers reside only Black Sea-Kazakhstan subregion. Besides summer eutherophytes are numerous in Central Asian subregion that is not typical to the west. Many plant communities occur only in one of these main sectors. Thus in the Black Sea-Kazakhstan steppes there are no communities with the domination of Filifolium sibiricum, Leymus chinensis, Stipa baicalensis but in the eastern sector there are no communities where Stipa lessingiana, S. zalesskii, S. ucrainica, Artemisia austriaca many species of Seriphidium are dominated. The desert steppes are situated only in the eastern sector.

The animal are divided in a similar manner. For example the majority of steppe mammals and many birds inhabited both sectors of the steppe zone are presented in different species (as …) or at least subspecies (as Saiga tatarica tatarica and S. t. mongolica or Otis tarda tarda and O. t. dybovskii). The whole rank of genuses of mammals and birds occur only in one sector. Among them Lasiopodomys and Myospalax, inhabiting only Daurian-Mongolian steppes (eastern sector), have the key importance in its ecosystems.

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