Geobotanica Pacifica
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Axial ranges of Sikhote-Alin Mts. in the central part (Sikhote-Alin reserve)

Broadleaved - Korean pine forest zone

The large part of geographical range of the broadleaved Korean Pine forests on the Russian territory is occupied by mountain system Sikhote-Alin, extending from southwest to northeast on about 1200 km. The Sikhote-Alin Mountain System was formed in the late Cretaceous by combination of folding and volcanic activity (Ivashinnikov 1999). Western slope of modern Sikhote-Alin is exposed to river Ussuri valley, and eastern slope to the Sea of Japan. The mountain system is formed by the set of mountain ranges tending meridional as well as parallel orientation, the altitude of which frequently exceeds a height of axial watershed range. The average height of sea-Ussuri-Amur watershed is within the limits of 1500-1700 m a.s.l. Only the separate tops exceed 2000 m (Mts. Tardoki-Yani - 2090 m; Ko - 2004 m). Eastern slope of Sikhote-Alin has deeper erosion dissection and significant steepness in comparison with western one. The tops of watersheds are often represented by extensive plateaus,+ cut by the Large rivers Khor, Bikin, Bolshaya Ussurka, with valleys reaching in a width in the middle parts of their basins 7-8 km, occur on Western slope.

In the southern part of broad-leaved Korean Pine forests distribution area they occupy also low elevated mountain ranges Pogranichniy, Chiornie Gory, Shuphanskoye Plateau (average altitudes 600-700 m a.s.l.), the spurs of Lao Ye Ling mountain system, located in Northeast China.

On the north the broad-leaved Korean Pine forests occur on the left side of Amur River, northern spurs of Maliy Hingan mountain range and southern spurs of Badzhalskiy mountain range. Most of range of nemoral vegetation at present lies in Northeast China, where it occupies mainly lower and middle elevation belts (up to 700-800 m) of Chang Bai Mountain system, Eastern Lao Ye Lin Mountain system and Lesser Hingan.

Miochan range
Miochan range lies south of Badzhal mountain system

Picea jezoensis forest zone

Picea jezoensis forms the monodominant, or mixed with firs, stands in elevation range from a sea level to 1500-2000 m, depending on latitude. The higher line of spruce forests exceeds the elevation mark 2000 m only on Japanese Alps (Central Honshu), outside the boreal zone.

The range of Ajan spruce lies in the deeply dissected montane territory. Most of mountain ranges, especially those situated along the Sea of Okhotsk and Sea of Japan coasts, are oriented along the meridians. The main mountain ranges are Sikhote-Alin and Dzhugdzhur on the continent, Sredinniy and Vostochniy on Kamchatka peninsula, Vostochno-Sakhalinskiy and Zapadno-Sakhalinskiy on Sakhalin Island. However the northern boundary of the area lies on the mountain range of sublatitudinal orientation: Stanovoy, Tukuringra. The mountain ranges stretched along a seacoast promote abrupt change in climate continentality along a distance from a seacoast to an interior, because stopping the dump marine air masses in summer time; they cannot be the borders to very cold continental air masses in wintertime.

The mountain systems are different on time of origin and orogeny. Most ancient part of Ajan spruce range, the Aldan shield at the edge of Eastern Siberian Platform, was formed in Pre-Cambrian time. Bulk territory of range, however, is related to the zone of Mesozoic folded mountains. The eastern edge of a continent was formed in Cenozoic period by folding under the influence of intensive volcanism (Nikolskaya 1974). Youngest Sikhote-Alin Mountain System has been formed to the late Cretaceous.

The coastline changed a shape in different geological epochs. There were several important land bridges connecting presently isolated islands. During the maximum stage of the last Glacial (ca. 18000 years ago) the northern Sakhalin as well as Shantar Archipelago was united with a continent (Grichuk 1984). Hokkaido was united with southern Sakhalin. The separation of Sakhalin from a continent took place at the end of Pleistocene. Land bridges served as an important ways for the species migration that partly explained the known similarity between species composition of spruce forests of northern Sakhalin and Amgu River Basin, or southern Sakhalin and Hokkaido.

In regions of modern volcanism on Kamchatka and Kuril Islands different forms of volcanic activity influenced the processes of orogeny. The specific feature of volcanic terrain is the presence of cone-shaped mountains, lava fields, tephra fields and very high speed of modern orogenic processes.

Kolyma range
Southern spurs of Kolyma range

Larix dahurica forest zone

The larch forests of Larix dahurica occupy a great area on the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia occurring on a wide range of sites: from river valleys to mountain tops. In the interior Far Eastern regions and in Eastern Siberia it forms the subarctic timberline reaching the 72°N of latitude. In a whole range in montane areas larch is one of the important or the only species forming the upper tree line at elevations more than 1000 m on the Polar Circle. Terrain within a range of Larix dahurica is very diverse. With a same success larch forms the monodominant stands on the extensive plains (Eastern Siberian Plain, Middle Amur Lowlands) as well as on massive mountain ranges (Stanovoy, Tukuringra, Kolymskiy, Anujskiy Mt. Ranges).

Vostochniy range
Southern part of Vostochniy range, one of two biggest mountain chains of Kamchatka

Betula ermanii forest zone

Kamchatka peninsula lies on the northeast edge of Asian continent in the latitude range of 51-60°N and longitude range of 156-163 E. The terrain of Kamchatka is represented by the 2 major mountain chains: Sredinniy and Vostochniy Mt. ranges. The western slopes of Sredinniy Mt. Range gradually change to the Western Kamchatka Plain, the eastern slopes of Vostochniy Strange fall down abruptly to the Pacific coast. The extensive Central Kamchatka Depression lies between the mountain chains.

Sredinniy Mt. Range represents the main mountain system of Kamchatka stretching from south to north on about 1000 km. On the south the maximal heights of mountain tops range from 1600 to 1800 m decreasing to the north to 600-800 m. The axial part of range is a zone Quaternary volcanism influenced by glaciation in the Pleistocene. Vostochniy Mt. Range unites a system of small ranges dissected by the dense river net. The Eastern volcanic region, the most seismically and volcanically active part of Kamchatka peninsula, lies on

the eastern macro slope of Vostochniy Mt. range. Most of active volcanoes: Mutnovskiy (3323 m), Goreliy (1829 m), Avachinskiy (2317 m), Zhupanovskiy (2958 m), Karymskiy (1536 m), Kizimen (2485 m), Kronotskiy (3528 m), Kluchevskoy (4850 m), Tolbachik (3682 m), Shiveluch (3283 m) are situated in this region (Fedotov et al. 1991).

Northern Kamchatka
Dwarf pine thickets in the northern Kamchatka

Pinus pumila dwarf forest zone

The area, where Pinus pumila forms monodominant communities on zonal sites stretches approximately from 60°N to 67°N within intensively dissected montane country on the northeast part of Asian continent including Magadan Region, Koriakia and Kamchatka. The basic mountain systems on the whole territory are Koriakia Uplands, Anadyr Mt. Range, Aniuy Mt. Range, Yukagir Uplands and Okhotsk-Kolyma Uplands in the continental part of the range and on the foothills of the northern part of Sredinniy Mt. Range and Vostochniy Mt. Range on Kamchatka with elevation range from 0 to 4850 m (Kluchevskoy volcano) above sea level. The Koriakia Uplands is isolated from the Magadan montane region by the extensive Penzhina lowlands, stretched along the Penzhina river on several hundreds kilometers. On Kamchatka Pinus pumila occupy lower mountain belt on the north of peninsula, on the most area of Eastern Kamchatkan volcanic group along the Pacific coast and on the southernmost point of Kamchatka - Lopatka Cape. On the rest of range Pinus pumila forms the well-expressed vertical vegetation belt above the treeline at elevations from 1600 m on the south of range (Sikhote-Alin Mts.) to 400-500 on the north of range.

One level up Area Climate Phytogeography Vegetation types
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© Pavel Krestov 2002-2004
© IBSS FEB RAS 2002-2004