In western Siberia woodlands dominated by birch, mainly Betula pendula, extend for some 1500 km over the West Siberian Plain from the Urals to the mountains of Salair, Kusnetsky and Altai. They form a zonal belt between the boreal forests and the steppe formations. Birch woodland is often considered to be a sub-climax stage in the recovery process after forest has been destroyed usually as a result of human activities. In parts of west Siberia these birch woodlands were probably dominated be Pinus sylvestris in the past. However, much birch woodland is now considered to be a natural climax or primary vegetation in parts of Siberia and this seems to be the case in much of southern west Siberia. They can support upto 400 species of vascular plants and can include many taiga species close to their southern limit and steppe species close to their northern limit. The canopy is mostly dominated by Betula pendula, while Rosa acicularis is often a common shrub layer species. Other trees may include Populus tremula, and in permanently wet areas, Betula pubescens replaces B. pendula. At ground level some of the more characteristic herbaceous species include Artemisia macrantha, Calamagrostis epigeios, Cnidium dubium, Galatella biflora, Poa angustifolia, Serratula wolffii and the Siberian endemic or near endemic Geranium bifolium (Geraniaceae) and Heracleum sibiricum (Apiaceae). Mosses and lichens, on the other hand, are very scarce. Other Siberian endemic or near endemic vascular plants associated with these woodlands include Calamagrostis arundinacea (Poaceae), Crepis sibirica (Asteraceae) and Peucedanum morisonii (Apiaceae).


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