Included here are the Altai Mountains, the Sayan Mountains, the Salair Ridge, the Khangai Plateau, montane Shoria, the Minusinsk Basin and the Khamar-Daban Range.

Altai-Sayan Betula pendula-Pinus sylvestris Mesic Hemiboreal Forest

These forests are found, for example, in the fairly warm northern foothills of western Sayan such as in the Dzhoiskii Range and the Yenisei Valley. The dominant trees Betula pendula and Pinus sylvestris may be accompanied by species such as Larix sibirica and Populus tremula. A shrub layer is usually present but rarely exceeds about 25% land cover. Typical species include Caragana arborescens, Cotoneaster melanocarpus, Ribes spicatum and Sambucus sibirica. The ground layer, on the other hand, is well developed with up to 80% coverage. Most of the species are herbs and graminoids typical of meadow steppe and have a Euroasian temperate distribution. Carex pediformis often dominates while other species include Crepis sibirica, Brachythecium starkei, Heracleum dissectum, Primula macrocalyx, Trollius asiaticus and the endemic Lathyrus frolovii (Fabaceae).

Altai-Sayan Larix sibirica Dry Hemiboreal Forest

Forests dominated by Larix sibirica can be found at mid-elevations (600-1800 m) throughout the Altai-Sayan mountain system. Other trees may include Betula pendula, Pinus sibirica and P. silvestris. In fact, the latter species becomes a major component in places. Both Larix sibirica (Siberian larch) and Pinus sibirica (Siberian pine) are adapted to grow at extremely low temperature and appear in places very close to the climatic limit for forest. The shrub layer can be sparse but in places pure stands of Rhododendron dauricum can develop. Other shrub species include Betula nana, Caragana frutex, Padus avium, Rhododendron parvifolium, Rosa acicularis, Sambucus racemosa, Spiraea chamaedryfolia, Viburnum opulus and the endemic or near endemic Lonicera altaica (Caprifoliaceae). The herb layer usually has good cover (up to 80%) and in places is dominated by Iris ruthenica. However, there are usually many other species such as Aconitum barbatum, Actaea erythrocarpa, Allium victorialis, Cerastium pauciflorum, Crepis lyrata, Heracleum sibiricum and several Tertiary relicts like Asarum europaeum, Festuca gigantea and Stachys sylvatica.

Altai-Sayan Pinus sylvestris Dry Hemiboreal Forest

These forests are usually confined to steep, south-facing slopes with rocky outcrops and can be found, for example, in northern and central Western Sayan. The tree canopy is typically open with admixtures of Betula pendula, Larix sibirica and Pinus sibirica. The shrub layer, on the other hand, is usually well developed and often dominated by Caragana arborescens and Rhododendron dauricum. Herb layer cover ranges from about 20-50% and mainly contains draught and frost adapted species. The main ones are Calamagrostis pavlovii, Carex pediformis and Iris ruthenica, while other common species include Aster alpinus, Bupleurum scorzonerifolium, Galium paniculatum, Kitagawia baiacalensis, Schizonepeta multifida and the endemic or near endemic grass Helictotrichum altaicum (Poaceae).

Altai-Sayan Abies sibirica-Betula pendula Wet Taiga

Confined to the relatively warm, high precipitation areas such as north and central Western Sayan, these forests are largely confined to lower slopes and river valleys. Abies sibirica often comprises up to 60% of the canopy layer and in addition to Betula pendula, Pinus obovata and Pinus sibirica are often present, while Sorbus sibirica is a typical subcanopy species. The shrub layer has variable cover and is often dominated by Duschekia fruticosa, while less common shrubs are Ribes spicatum and Sambucus sibirica. The herb layer, however, is species-rich and often dense with up to 90% land cover, and typically dominated by tall ferns such as Athyrium filix-femina, Diplazium sibiricum, Dryopteris expansa and Matteuccia struthiopteris and the tall grass Calamagrostis obtusata. A lower herb layer is often dominated by Carex pediformis, while others include Aquilegia sibirica, Atragene sibirica, Lactuca sibirica, Poa sibirica and the endemic or near endemic Anemonoides altaica (Ranunculaceae) and Euphorbia alpina (Euphorbiaceae). Several of these species are also common to other local conifer forests.

Altai-Sayan Abies sibirica-Pinus sibirica Mesic Taiga

Forest dominated by Abies sibirica, Pinus sibirica and to a less extent Populus tremula is thought to represent the oldest coenotic relict of the dark conifer forests of the Paleocene and Neogene periods. They have features in common with vanished forests recently reconstructed from the fossil record of the full-glacial period in eastern Central Europe. Today they are scattered throughout the mountainous region of this BioProvince including the Altai, East and West Sayan and the Chamar-Daban Mountains, but are mainly confined to north-facing slopes at altitudes ranging from about 1000-1500 m. Canopy cover ranges from 20-50% and may also include admixtures of Picea obovata. The shrub layer is often characterized by the endemic Lonicera altaica (Caprifoliaceae), while other shrubs include Ribes nigrum and Sorbus sibirica. The ground layer tends to be species-poor and often dominated by Bergenia crassifolia and Vaccinium myrtillus and most of the ground flora has a boreal distribution. However, these forests also support a number of relict species including nemoral Atlantic relicts like Asarum europaeum, Campanula trachelium, Circaea lutetiana, Epilobium montanum, Festuca silvatica and Sanicula europaea; nemoral Eurasia relicts like Asperula odorata, Cardamine impatiens, Carex silvatica and Listera ovata. There are also some ancient Mediterranean elements like Brunnera sibirica, Dentaria sibirica and Galium krylovii.

Altai-Sayan Pinus sibirica-Picea obovata Continental Taiga

These forests occur throughout this BioProvince on slopes of different inclination and aspect. In the Western Sayan Mountains they range from about 600 m to near the timberline at 1650-1950 m. Pinus sibirica is usually the dominant tree with up to 40% coverage but with a constant admixture of Picea obovata and in places Larix sibirica. The shrub layer is sparse and often dominated by Rhododendron dauricum, while other shrubs include Caragana arborescens, Cotoneaster melanocarpus, Ribes nigrum, Rubus matsumuranus and Spiraea media.  Ground layer coverage ranges from 30-60% and is often dominated by Vaccinium vitis-idaea. Other ground layer species include Empetrum nigrum, Equisetum scirpoides, Lupinaster pentaphyllus, Lycopodium annotinum, Polypodium sibiricum and Vicia unijuga. There is also a good variety of bryophytes and macro lichens of the genus Cladonia.


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