chapter  6
26 Pages

Land Use of Natural and Secondary Grasslands in Russia

ByJennifer S.F. Reinecke, Ilya E. Smelansky, Elena I. Troeva, Ilya A. Trofimov and Lyudmila S. Trofimova

The Russian Federation covers a territory of 17.125 million km2, which represents 31.5 per cent of the Eurasian continent. It stretches from European Russia in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, with the Ural Mountains serving as a conventional border between European Russia and Siberia. Over 70 per cent of the territory is lowland, but mountain ranges line the southern border (Caucasus, Altai and Sayan mountains) and prevail in NE Siberia (Verkhoyansk, Chersky and Stanovoy ranges). The climate of this vast country ranges from the polar to the subtropical climate zone and is further influenced by the distance from the oceans (continentality) and particular landforms. The mean monthly temperatures range from –50ºC (Yakutia) to +5ºC (northern Caucasus) in January and from +1ºC (northern coastline of Siberia) to +25ºC (Caspian Depression) in July. Annual precipitation ranges from 200-250 mm at the lower Volga to 800 mm in the forest zones of European Russia and the Far East and exceeds 1,600 mm along the coast of the Black Sea in the Caucasus. Consequently, a broad range of biomes is found in Russia-polar deserts and tundra in the tundra geographical zone; forest-tundra, taiga, and bogs in the boreal zone; different deciduous forests in the nemoral zone; forest-steppe, steppe and desertsteppe in the steppe zone. This latitudinal zonation is most obvious in European Russia,

1 Senckenberg Museum of Natural History, Am Museum 1, 02826 Görlitz, Germany. 2 Sibecocenter LLC, P.O. Box 547, 630090, Novosibirsk, Russia. 3 Laboratory of Genesis and Ecology of Soil-Vegetation Cover, Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone,

Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 41 Lenin Ave., 677980, Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia.