Nukhimovskaya Yu.D., Bykov A.V., Kolesnikov A.V., Stepanova N.Yu. “Biologicheskaya Balka” of Biosphere Reserve “Lake Elton”, a botanical Phenomenon in the saline Plains of the Northern Elton Region // Ecosystems: ecology and dynamics. Vol. 6, No 1. 2022. P. 53-99. | Abstract | PDF | Reference |
In this article we present detailed results of our study of the vegetation cover of the “Biologicheckaya Balka” or “Biological” dry valley, where the largest derivative of a ravine forest of the desert-steppe Trans-Volga region is located. The data on tree-shrub vegetation, soils and groundwater, taken from the stationary drill wells, was collected in different seasons of 2008-2021. The floristic observations were carried out by routing, with trees and shrubs studied along the way during the growing seasons of 2014 and 2018-2021. “Biological” dry valley (length – 850 m, elevation difference – 17 m) differs distinctly from the surrounding saline plains that are formed by the zonal semi-dwarf shrub-bunch grasses desert steppes. Its extremely small territory has intrazonal and extrazonal mesophilic vegetation, an unusually high floristic abundance and phytocenotic diversity. At the valley mouth there are halophytic annual saltwort plants, thickets of reeds, followed by the grass-forb communities with Phragmites australis further above, with meadow and forb-grass communities, and with a specific tarragon and couch grass meadow at the very top. Most of the area is occupied by a tree-shrub massif, located in the middle part of the valley bottom, and by the shrubs-forb-grass steppes on its right slope. In the catchment areas and on the left slope various types of desert and dry steppes are common, close to the vegetation of the flat interfluves. Their vegetation is heterogeneous and mosaic.
We also explain what role the most important environmental factors, such as the level and salinity of groundwater, surface runoff, slope orientation, pyrogenic factor, livestock grazing and erosions, play in the spatial organization and vegetation dynamics. Over the past 50 years the upper border of the closed tree-shrub massif has moved along the bottom of the valley almost 50 m up. The local flora consists of 201 vascular plants species from 44 families, which is about 30% of species and 80% of families of the total number in the Elton Region; including 4 species from the “Red Data Book of the Russian Federation” (2008), and 5 from the “Red Data Book of the Volgograd Region” (2018). There are also 30 or 15% ruderal species.
The materials of this study contribute and help to achieve the main strategic goals of the UNESCO biosphere reserve “Lake Elton”, such as the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems, development of scientific researches, ecological monitoring, ecological education, enlightenment and education. They prove there is a need of a protection regime in the “Biologicheksya Balka”, as well as of fire-preventing and graze-prohibiting measures.
Keywords: Volga-Ural interfluve, Caspian lowland, Elton region, Lake Elton Biosphere Reserve, Eltonsky Nature Park, Khara River, Biologicheskaya Balka, Biological dry valley, tree-shrub vegetation, shrub vegetation, meadow vegetation, steppe vegetation, halophyte vegetation, soils, wildfires, livestock grazing, flora, vascular plants, Red Data Book of the Russian Federation, Red Data Book of the Volgograd Region, monitoring.
Sviridova T.V., Grinchenko O.S. Conservation of Agricultural Landscapes as the Habitats of Rare Waders and Other Birds in the Territory of Prospective Nature Park “Crane Country” // Ecosystems: ecology and dynamics. Vol. 6, No 1. 2022. P. 118-133. | Abstract | PDF | Reference |
Two projects on conservation of rare waders in agricultural landscapes in the north of Moscow Region (Russia, 56°41’N, 38°00’E) were carried out with the support of the Rufford Foundation (RSGF) in 2012-2014 in an area known as the Homeland of the Crane – Important Bird Area, included also in a shadow list of Ramsar Sites. This area is a mosaic of various wetlands (raised sphagnum bogs, birch and black alder forests, willow swamps and oxbow lakes) alternating with agricultural lands such as floodplain meadows, hayfields, arable lands, pastures and abandoned lands. For highly developed Moscow Region it is a unique locality with still existing habitats suitable for Common Cranes Grus grus and many other rare birds, including declining and threatened breeding waders – Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Great Snipe Gallinago media.
Plans to establish Nature Park in this area have been developed since the end of XX century. However, implementation of these plans has been suspended in the 2010s, and conservation community has made efforts to maintain the value of the area until establishment of Natural Park there. Special attention in these efforts was paid to conservation of rare breeding meadow waders, in particular, with support of the RSGF. These efforts were successful as above-mentioned wader species along with other birds still breed in the area in relatively high numbers. In 2020 a project of Nature Park «Crane Country» with new extended boundaries was included in the recent official governmental «Scheme of development and localization of SPAs in Moscow Region». Almost half of an area of prospective Nature Park is represented by agricultural landscapes.
Keywords: rare bird, meadow waders, farmland, nature-friendly agriculture, Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Great Snipe, Crane Homeland, Nature Park «Crane Country», ecological education.
Demyanets S.S., RosenfeldS.B. The Influence of Spring Hunting on the Distribution of Geese of the Kumo-Manych Depression // Ecosystems: ecology and dynamics. No 1. 2022. P. 134-146. | Abstract | PDF | Reference |
The influence of spring hunting on geese has long been recognized throughout the world as the main component of the decline in their total number. Unfortunately, the spring hunt for migratory birds, which has long been abandoned by all European, part of Asian and North American countries, is still underway in Russia. This negates the efforts of specially protected natural areas to preserve rare species of Anseriformes. Restrictions on spring hunting at the regional level can be introduced with great difficulty, mainly due to the powerful hunting lobby. Measures to restrict spring hunting in the Republic of Kalmykia were carried out from 2008 to 2012, and during this period, an increase in the number of this species was noted. In 2019, after no measures were taken to restrict hunting in the Republic of Kalmykia, a smaller number of red-breasted goose at the stop can be noted compared to the one when restrictive measures were in force. In our opinion, the results of the study are a good illustration of the strong influence spring hunting has on the populations of Anseriformes, which are forced to use only a part of the territory suitable for migratory stops. The most effective measures will be the complete closure of the spring hunting for waterfowl in the Kumo-Manych depression and the creation of temporary mobile resting zones on key water bodies of the depression during the autumn-winter hunting season. In 2020, thanks to this study, the regional hunting parameters prohibited spring hunting for waterfowl on the territory of the Kumo-Manych depression in the Republic of Kalmykia and Stavropol district.
This article presents scientific evidence of the negative influence of the disturbance factor during the spring hunting period on both rare and hunting species of geese. This study can serve as an example for other regions of Russia, where it is required to introduce restrictive measures during the spring hunting for waterfowl.
Keywords: spring hunting, anseriformes, rare species, red-breasted goose, bird protection.
Funding. The research was carried out for the ЕС LIFE16 NAT/BG/000847 Grant “Life for Safe Flight”.
Acknowledgements. The authors express their gratitude to the administration and employees of the “Chyornye Zemli” Reserve, to A.V. Nikitin, the director of the “Manych-Gudilo” Tourist and Hunting Complex, and his pilots, as well as to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kalmykia. We also thank A.S. Opaev for his help with statistical methods and for his valuable comments.