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

Ecosystems and ecoregions
Mongolian-Manchurian grassland
Related maps, pictures, links

The Mongolian-Manchurian grassland includes more than a million square kilometers of temperate grasslands on the inland side of Northeast China coastal mountain ranges and river basins.  To the west are the desert regions of southern Mongolia and north-central China.  The western arm of the Mongolian-Manchurian grassland ecoregion extends toward the Upper Selenga River Basin, which drains into Lake Baikal and then to the Arctic Ocean.  A second arm extends southwest toward the deserts of north-central China.  Much of the ecoregion consists of nearly flat or rolling grasslands.  The southwestern uplands of the Great Hinggan Mountains are also included.  Their western slopes are gently inclined toward Mongolia while the eastern slopes drop steeply to the Northeast China Plain. 
Average elevation throughout the ecoregion is 1,000 to 1,300 m and the climate is temperate.  The trans-montane grasslands northwest of the Great Hinggan Mountains have especially cold winters because there are no mountains to offer shelter from prevailing northwesterly winds.  A "continental monsoon effect" – where low pressure over the South China Sea draws cold air toward the southeast from the high latitude regions of Central Asia – creates much colder winter temperatures than occur at other regions of similar latitude.
Dominant plant taxa in these grasslands include feather grass (Stipa baicalensis, S. capillata, and S. grandis), Festuca ovina, Aneurolepidium chinense, Filifolium sibiricuman, and Cleistogenes sqarrosa.  Areas closer to the GobiDesert support desert steppe and have lower productivity.  Dominant species here include drought-resistant feather grasses (Stipa gobica, S. breviflora, and S. glareosa), forbs (Reaumuria soongolica, Hippolytia trifida, and Ajania fruticosa), and small, spiny shrubs that are well adapted to arid conditions (Caragana microphylla, Ephedra equisetina, and E sinica). 
Mongolian gazelle is the most abundant ungulate and in autumn and winter thousands of gazelle migrate and breed in these grasslands.
The western slope of the Great Hinggan Mountains, covering the Nomrog and Degee River basins on the Mongolia-China border, has many peculiar plants as white peony (Paeonia albiflora), grand lady’s slipper (Cypripedium macranthum), and gas plant (Dictamnus Dasycarpus).  In Nomrog Protected Area there are 46 species of mammals and 260 species of birds, among which Ussurian moose, (Alces alces cameloides), Daurian hedge-hog (Erinaceus dauricus), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), Manchurian zokor (Mysospalax epsilanus), Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Baer’s Pochard (Aythya  baeri), Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), and Asiatic Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) are listed in the Red Data Book of Mongolia.  Eurasian Otter, Baer’s Pochard, and Asiatic Dowitcher are IUCN listed as globally threatened.
Sheep-grazing is a dominant activity, although goats are more abundant in the rockier, mountainous areas.  In recent years, the number of goats raised on the grasslands has increased considerably due to the high prices for cashmere wool, refined from goat fleeces.  Because goats eat a wider range of plant species and forage more aggressively than sheep – and because goats consume the entire plant – this trend has contributed to the widespread degradation of these grasslands.
Wetland habitats (many brackish or saline) exist throughout these grasslands and many are important breeding habitat for Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus), Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides, IUCN Endangered), Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis, IUCN Endangered), and relict gull (Larus relictus, IUCN Vulnerable).  The Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area, which covers the lower Uldz River basin with 90 small lakes, rivers, springs and wetlands, is the breeding and stopover place for many migrating birds including several rare species of crane
Among China's  nature reserves Huihe National Nature Reserve is especially important for supporting populations of swan goose, cranes, and other wetland birds.  A gazelle reserve west of Dalai Lake was established in China, while several reserves in the Kherlen River and Yakhi Lake basin exist within the Amur-Heilong basin in Mongolia.  In 2005, Dornod Province petitioned the central government of Mongolia to establish a nature reserve adjacent to Buir Lake.

Gazelle in Daursky Zapovednik. Photo by Bart Wickel

 

Map collection: Land cover, ecosystems and ecoregions

 

Maps:

Topography of Amur Heilong River Basin

Landuse/Land cover –SPOT satellite imagery

Dominant soil types of Amur River Basin

Vegetation map

Vegetation density

Change in Forest Cover in Amur Heilong River Basin

Wetlands

Floristic zones

Fauna types

Terrrestrial ecoregions

Global 200 Ecoregions

Freshwater ecoregions

Major protected areas of Amur-Heilong

 

Map collection: Natural vegetation zones change ( Time series - 7 maps)

 

Ecoregions& landscapes photogalleries:

Ussury forests

Small Hinggan

Changbaishan

Daurian steppe

Song-Nen plain

Amur meadows and wetlands – Amur midflow

Khanka Lake and upper Ussury wetlands

Lower Amur wetlands

 

GIS:Soil and vegetation

GIS: Land cover/Land use according to satellite imagery

Also look:

Landscape diversity in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Landscape changes throughout recent geological history

Amur-Heilong River Basin Ecoregional zoning

Global 200 ecoregions in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Boreal forests of Amur-Heilong River Basin:

 

Tiger forests - Temperate forests:

Global 200 Dauria Steppe:

Daurian forest steppe

Nen River grassland

 

Global 200 Amur Wetlands

 

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