Phytocoenotic diversity in the Baikal region

Institute of General and Experimental Biology,
SB RAS, Ulan-Ude

Head of the Institute:

Vladimir M.Korsunov, Doctor of Biological Sciences
6 Sakhyanovoi St., Ulan-Ude, 670047, Russia
Tel.: 8 (3012) 331211
Fax: 8 (3012) 330134

Principal researchers:

O.A.Anenkhonov, Doctor of Biological Sciences,
Head of the Department of Floristics and Geobotany
B.B.Namzalov, leading researcher, Professor of Botany
K.I.Osipov, senior researcher, Doctor of Biological Sciences

Project objectives

Background and significance of objectives

A. The plant cover of various vegetative types within different areas of the Baikal region has been investigated. Preliminary syntaxonomical surveys of the plant communities for these areas have been composed. Some of the regularities of formation of the forest vegetation in northern Buryatia and of the steppe vegetation in southern Siberia in connection with regional paleogeography and recent time course of the climatic conditions have been examined. The contemporary phytogeographic relationships between some vegetation types have been revealed.

B. The plant cover of the Baikal region has since long been attracting attention of botanists. Over the 200-year-long history research has resulted in the acquisition of significant, broad and profound data on the taxonomical composition of the flora, plant systematics, plant geography and phylogenetic relationships. However, the plant communities for this period are less studied. As late as in the middle of the 20th century comparatively detailed phytocoenological studies emerged, whereof most findings were summarised by G.A. Peshkova (Vegetation of Siberia: Predbaikal'ye and Zabaikal'ye.- Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1985). However, the so-called dominant approach to different syntaxon definition served a theoretic basis for the preceding studies, as well as for G.A. Peshkova's monograph. As was noted by many gebotanists (Mirkin, 1985; Korotkov, 1991; Matveyeva, 1998; and others), it is impossible to obtain equivalent results using this approach. Also, the severe necessity of a deeper inventory of the phytocoenotic diversity by means of the dominant approach used by G.A. Peshkova for the Baikal region was pointed by B.M. Mirkin (1988). Consequently, the published data do not allow the actual contents, structure, level, or geographical distribution of the phytocoenotic diversity of the Baikal region to be estimated.

Another important fact is that the Baikal region was designated by the UNESCO as a “World Heritage site". Therefore, what is required is a detailed biological diversity inventory of the region, studying regularities of the biodiversity organisation and mechanisms of their sustainability. The phytocoenotic diversity inventory is basic in studying biodiversity, as plant communities determine the composition, structure, and main mechanisms of the biocoenosis functioning.

Recently the Braun-Blanquet approach for classification of vegetation (ecological-and-floristical approach) has been used in Russia. Nowadays this approach is accepted as being appropriate for revealing phytocoenotic diversity (Matveyeva, 1998; et al.). It is necessary to note that large overviews of phytocoenotic diversity in the European countries, like Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands and others, were carried out using the Braun-Blanquet approach. Moreover, over the past few years, a wide project aimed at phytocoenotic diversity catalogisation across entire Europe has been initiated (Dierschke, 1992; Rodwell et al., 1996). Thus, the application of the Braun-Blanquet approach will be useful both for the description of phytocoenotic diversity of the Baikal region and for the integration of phytosociological data on the Baikal region into the European data pool.

Additionally, as was pointed by J.S. Rodwell et al., such a summarising of information on phytocoenotic diversity is also necessary "for predicting and monitoring the impacts of environmental changes and developing vegetation management and landscape planning" (Rodwell et al., 1996: 2). This affirmation is fully applied to information on the phytocoenotic diversity of the Baikal region.

Research plan: approaches and methods

The principal basis for the project implementation is the Braun-Blanquet approach for the classification of vegetation (Braun-Blanquet, 1964; Dierschke, 1992). Standard techniques for geobotanical description of vegetation plots will be used (Polyevaya geobotanica /Field geobotany/, 1964; Dierschke, 1992). The Database on plant communities of the Baikal region will be created using the TURBO(VEG) software program (Hennekens, 1996). Data processing for phytocoenones differentiation will be carried out using the TWINSPAN software program (Hill, 1978). Eventually, the phytocoenones obtained will be syntaxonomically interpreted.

Expected results

List of publications of participants related to the project


Fig. 1. The relic broad-leaved elm forest in south-eastern Pribaikalye.