Zabaikalsky National Park - Wildlife and Forests
Wildlife in Zabaikalsky National Park is made up primarily of taiga faunal communities. There are 291 terrestrial vertebrates in the park, including 44 mammals, 241 birds, three reptiles, and three amphibians. Mountain hares (Lepus timidus) bound through the forest, while red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) scold them from the trees. Wily sables (Martes zibellina) and ermines (M. erminea) slip over fallen logs and under tree roots, searching for mice and other small prey. Brown bears (Ursus arctos) descend to the Baikal shore in spring to feed on the thousands of caddis flies (Trichoptera) gathered on the rocks. Musk deer (Moschus moschiferus), Manchurian wapiti (Cervus elaphus), and moose (Alces alces) maneuver the forested slopes of the Barguzin Range in search of fresh browse. Muskrats (Ondatra zibethica) swim in lakes and streams in the park. The Ushkani Islands harbor important rookeries for the endemic Baikal seal (Phoca sibirica).
Forest-dwelling birds in the part include the large capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), and its distant cousins, the northern black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) and northern hazel hen (Tetrastes bonasia). Nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryocatactes) pierce the silence of the forest with their shrill call. Dark-sided flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica), winged crossbill (Loxia leucoptera), and black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) also inhabit the coniferous forests. On Arangatui Lake and the Baikal shore, waterfowl such as horned grebe (Podiceps auritus), Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), greylag goose (Anser anser), ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), falcated teal (Anas falcata), and spotbill duck (A. poecilorhyncha) can be observed. The crested honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus), black kite (Milvus migrans), osprey (Pandion haliaëtus), and white-tailed sea-eagle (Haliaëetus albicilla) are among the birds of prey gliding over the lake and forests.
Fish in the Barguzin and Chivykuisky bays and lakes and rivers of the park include Arctic cisco (Coregonus autumnalis), European whitefish (C. lavaretus), Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus), eelpout (Lota lota), pike (Esox lucius), perch (Perca fluviatilis), id (Leuciscus leuciscus, L. idus), and roach (Rutilus rutilus). Chivykuisky Bay is an important spawning ground for whitefish in Lake Baikal.
Forests cover nearly two-thirds of the park area, and a third of these are made up of Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). Mountain pine (Pinus pumila), which also occupies a third of the park, primarily occurs along the eastern shore of the lake in the understory. Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica), larch (Larix gmelinii), and Siberian fir (Abies sibirica) make up the rest of the coniferous forests. Firs generally are found near the more humid coastal area and in the northern part of the Svatoy Nos Peninsula. Deciduous forests occupy a much smaller area (less than 10 percent of the park) and consist primarily of birch (Betula ermanii, B. platyphylla) and aspen (Populus tremula). Old growth forests of Scotch and Siberian pine, fir, and larch occupy nearly four percent of the park.
Plant communities in the park are distributed according to vertical zoning along the mountainous terrain. The bottom belt of forests is primarily made up of larch forests with an undergrowth of mountain pine. Mixed pine (P. sylvestris, P. sibirica) and larch forests occupy areas higher up. Dark coniferous forests of fir, spruce, and Siberian pine are found from 400-500 m and 1000-1200 m above sea level, changing to larch and sparse spruce forests higher still. From 1400-1500 m above sea level, mountain tundra ecosystems, alpine meadows, and rocky slopes dominate the terrain. Bogs are numerous in the northern part of the reserve and around the mouths of rivers.
Relic steppe plant communities are found in the park along with rich alpine shrublands on the Ushkani Islands and the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula. Forest communities of mountain pine and birch (Betula divaricata) are especially unique. The rare Chosenia arbutifolia is found here at the western extent of its range. Altogether, there are approximately 700 species of vascular plants in the park, of which there are 19 endemic species and nine rare species for the Baikal Region including Borodinia tilingii.
Center for Russian Nature Conservation
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