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Notes: Updated the previous boundaries to cover the area which is Akademgorodok in its original meaning (a cluster of research institutions of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and adjacent residential areas).
Akademgorodok is located near the northern end of a 200 km long ecological disaster called the Ob river reservoir. There’s a large dam nearby with a relatively weak hydro power station (a brilliant idea, building a giant dam on a nearly flat area, isn’t it) The reservoir, being a large body of water, influences our microclimate somewhat in terms of humidity.
Akademgorodok was built in the middle of a forest, and the founders’ idea was to leave as much original forest inside the residential areas as possible. Here’s a link to an aerial view of our little town:
The surrounding forests represent almost all typical natural communities of the Western Siberian plains:
1) on the western side of Akademgorodok there are areas of primeval pine forests of the type called ленточный бор, “band pine forest” in Russian. They’re a very peculiar feature of the basin of Ob and its tributaries – they grow in narrow bands along the banks of the modern Ob and also along narrow, parralel, ridge-like elevations stretching in SW-NE direction all over the Southwest of Siberia (you can look at a satellite image of our area and you’ll see the unmistakable “claw marks”). This type of terrain was produced during the final stage of the last Ice Age: the retreating glaciers and unimaginable giant streams of molten ice left these giant burrows. Many of these ridges are basicaly sand dunes produced by that catastrophic hydrological activity. The soils there are sandy, poor yet well-drained which is exactly what Pinus sylvestris loves. A typical forest of that type is park-like, with a lot of space between large pine trees, the smaller flora depends on the drainage and elevation (well, not that there are any noticeable elevations here, it’s usually within +- 15-20 m). In in dry, elevated areas it’s bare with some Vaccinium vitis-idaea + Antennaria dioica, or, in less disturbed areas, there are carpets of Cladonia lichens. Lower areas are covered with moss pads, Vaccinium myrtilis, Rubus saxatilis, Pteridium aquilinum, Equisetum spp., etc.
These forests are suffering from fires, pollution, overlogging and (yep, it’s Russia) from excessive mushroom picking, and they’re also actively destroyed because of the Nouveau riche proletariat stereotype dream of having an oversized house in the pine forest. Luckily there are still a lot of pine forests left in Siberia, but our local pine forests suffer from human activities a lot, which is pretty sad.
The natural succession process for these forests as they accumulate nutrients is to become gradually invaded by birch and aspen, especially after large forest fires.
2) mixed forest with different proportions of Pinus sylvestris, Betula pendula, Populus tremula and some smaller trees and large shrubs such as Salix caprea, Prunus padus, and Sorbus aucuparia, is another common type of natural community here; it’s poorly studied and its biodiversity is unique and very rich. Most of my interesting finds were made in this type of forest.
3) these mixed forests gradually give way to the type of community which is the most typical for the whole forest-steppe belt stretching from the Ural to the Kuznetsk Alatau mountains – steppe (turned into fields and pastures mostly) with patches of Betula pendula and Populus tremula, either pure or mixed – the latter prefers wetter contexts. This creates a maze like pattern of forest and steppe (again, you can look at a satellite image to get the idea). The grass in these forests is usually very tall (waist-high by mid-June) and there are some plants that you usually see in meadows. Pteridium aquilinum and Aegopodium podagraria are probably the two most abundant herbaceous plants here and are usually present in different proportions. Shallow depressions in these forests where spring waters stay knee-deep (usually until late June) are dominated by thickets of various willows (Salix alba, Salix caprea, etc.), with occasional poplars here and there (Populus nigra). Valleys of small creeks here are quite similar. These creeks are very ancient albeit small tributaries of Ob and their valleys are unproportionally deep. The rare thimble morel, Verpa conica, grows in these wet areas.
4) there’s also a small patch of boggy forest with Larix sibirica mixed into the usual Birch + Pine combination. I haven’t studied it thoroughly yet.
5) another thing worth mentioning about Akademgorodok is that there are a lot of planted non-native trees and shrubs here. Our Botanical Garden has been planting a lot of interesting stuff around here for decades, which explains some unusual finds – such as my 2008 Amanita phalloides find under some planted oaks (Quercus robur), and it’s a species which hadn’t been recorded in Western Siberia before, and a really weird and still unidentified pink morel which appears under Prunus maackii, a Far East species of bird cherry.
Created: 2010-02-06 03:29:32 PST (-0800) by Anna Baykalova (anna_ru)
Last modified: 2011-04-10 11:07:40 PDT (-0700) by Tatiana Bulyonkova (ressaure)
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