AMUR-HEILONG RIVER BASIN

 

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Introduction

Climate

Waters and water management

Ecosystems and ecoregions

Species diversity and use of biological resources

Nature conservation: econet and protected areas

Countries & cultures

Economy

Land use

International policy

Climate

Ecosystem response to changing climate
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In the western part of the basin forest tundra, forest and forest steppe communities occur in narrow strips sandwiched between dry cold tundra in the north (or at higher elevations) and dry semi-deserts in the south (or at lower elevations).  These belts of forest habitats support the major share of the region’s species diversity.  Any abrupt change of climate would probably lead to extirpation of these communities.  Restoration of these communities seems unlikely in present climatic conditions.  The existing mosaic of forest-steppe on mountain slopes in Mongolia is the most likely first candidate for extirpation induced by climate change.  The complex mosaic of habitats in most ecoregions of the Amur-Heilong basin is largely dependent on current climate patterns and climate cycles, and high variation in precipitation between years and seasons.  Smoothing of this variation in the course of climate change will lead to decreasing diversity of microclimates in adjacent locations and subsequent losses of habitat diversity. 
In the Sikhote-Alinsky Zapovednik, climate change might push the ranges of many species of temperate mixed forests (tiger, wild boar, deer) northward and increase the densities of local populations.  In the Zeisky Zapovednik, long-term changes in musk deer populations are clearly correlated with cycles in precipitation.  Climate fluctuations affect forage availability for musk deer by making habitat conditions better for lichen growth after wetter years and enabling better access to tree lichens in winters with high snow cover.  Therefore it is possible that as the regional climate becomes dryer, musk deer populations will suffer due to decreasing forage availability.
In the Khingansky Zapovednik prolonged drought has been shown to negatively affect reproductive success of Oriental White Stork, and population numbers of White-naped Cranes, Red-crowned Cranes, and other waterbirds.  Their reproductive success in the wild depends on water supply to the breeding areas during nesting and brood-rearing because cranes and storks feed mostly on aquatic organisms.   Climate change will ultimately threaten the populations of cranes and storks as climate change progresses. (see Figure and detailed description)
Warmer temperatures are also indicated by northward shifts of the northern borders of the natural ranges of several bird species: Great Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) extended its northern range limit to the Khingansky Zapovednik during the last twenty years; the first records of Swinhoe’s Yellow Rail (Coturnicops exquisita) in the Middle Amur-Heilong River basin were made in the 1990s; Manchurian Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus tangorum) was recorded near Bolon’ Lake (Khabarovsk region) in 2000.  The drought caused some mammal and insect species of arid areas to expand their geographic distributions.  Cricetulus barabensis settled in the grasslands of the Khingansky Reserve during the last four years.  The portion of steppe Tabanidae, Diptera increased from 45 to 60 per cent during 2002-2006.  Tabanus signatipennis which previously occupied China, Japan, and Korea was recorded in the Khingansky Reserve for the first time. Ornithological research throughout the region also suggests that ranges of many southern species have extended northwards during the past 20 years.

Map collection:

Climate, waters and water management

 

Maps:

Precipitation in Amur River Basin (from Lasserre 2003)

Landuse/Land cover –SPOT satellite imagery

 

Photogallery:

Amur climate

 

Sandstorm in May. Huliyetu. Inner Mongolia. (Photo by Guo Yumin)

Also look:

Amur climate

Precipitation in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Temperature in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Climate fluctuations, floods and droughts in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Cranes and storks and climate change in Middle Amur

Great Bustard and White-naped Crane response to climate cycles in Dauria

Global climate change predictions and signs in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Socio-economic response to climate change in Amur-Heilong River Basin

 

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