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Species diversity and use of biological resources | Amur Information Center / Portal

Species diversity and use of biological resources

For an area lying far in the north between boreal and temperate realms, the Amur Basin has surprisingly rich diversity of species. Since its large area is split between three countries and 15 ecoregions no one has calculated so far overall basin-wide taxonomic diversity. There are at least 6000 species of vascular plants, 130 fish species, at least 600 bird species, about 200 mammal species.
All world-wide maps on animal species distribution show that the Amur-Heilong River basin has outstanding species richness in comparison with surrounding expanses of Asia and is surpassed only at southern latitudes south of the Yangzi River. To put the Amur-Heilong basin in the context of world-wide discussions of biodiversity hotspots we include maps showing relative species richness of taxonomic groups including mammals, nesting birds, fish, diurnal butterflies, and vascular plants.
Boreal species from flora and fauna complexes of East Siberia meet here with Mongolian, Okhotsk-Beringian, Manchurain species, providing unique cases of coexistence when tropical lianas are embracing boreal conifers and northern anadromous salmon is staring at Chinese Soft-shelled turtle in Amur River main channel. (See maps of flora/fauna types distribution)

Amur-Heilong River basin is known world-wide as home to Kaluga sturgeon, Amur tiger, white-naped and red-crowned cranes, oriental white stork, Korean pine and Asian ginseng. It is also a critical habitat for such charismatic species as goral, Siberian spruce grouse, swan goose ,great bustard, and wild lotus. Major bird migration flyways cross the region with stopover sites in wetlands. Eastern forests still provide room for migration of tigers, leopards and their prey, while western steppe is crossed by Mongolian gazelle migration paths.

Wildlife resources of the region are subject to intensive harvest, with rifle hunting prevailing in Russia and Mongolia, and many other methods employed illegally in China, where hunting is largely prohibited. Harvest of wildlife is spurred by international trade demand.

Fish resources are overexploited and total catch decreased manifold in recent decades, which necessitated Russia and China to agree on common fishing rules. Pollution and degradation of spawning rivers by logging and mining adds pressure on remaining fish populations.

Flying flock of Red-crowned cranes
(Photo by Yuri Bersenev)

 

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