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Torey lakes

Geographical Coordinates
4 50°05’ N, 115°40’ E (49°55’-50°14’N, 115°05’-115°98’ E)

Geographical Location
Torey Lakes are situated in Transbaikalia, on the territory of Onon and Borzinsky Districts of the Zabaikalsky Province. The south border of the wetland coincides with the
boundary between Russia and Mongolia. The distance of the western part of the wetland to Borzya is 90 km, from the northern part to Chita - 300 km and from
Nizhniy Tsasuchey - 50 km.

Area: 172,500 ha. This wetland includes most part of Daursky Nature Reserve with 44 752 ha core area and 163,530 ha buffer zone.

Altitude:  591,4 (the bottom of the lake) to 769,3 m (the highest point of the mountain range along the coast of Zun-Torey). The water level is at the point 598,2 m a. s. l

Wetland Type
Ramsar classification -  Q, R, Ss, Ts, P, M

Ramsar Criteria 1а, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 3a, 3b. The main - 2a  - is the important area of habitation of rare species.

The steppe lakes with variable hydrological regime, connected in high-water years with a channel; parts of river-beds, delta, flooding it rivers. The site is an important
breeding, feeding and staging area for migratory waterfowl, including such species as Larus relictus and Anser cygnoides.
Created on September 13, 1994.

Geology and geomorphology. The distinctive feature of the terrain are coastal bars on the bottomland and on the first terrace above flood-plain of the lakes. They formed because of the movement of the coast line during the variations in levels of the lakes. The number of these bars reaches 19-20 on one slope. The size is 0,5-3 m high and 20-30 m wide.

The area has a continental climate with dry cold winter and warm summer. The mean air temperatures vary from 26°C in January to +19°C in July. The daily range of temperature is 15-20°С, and the annual variation - 80°. Annual precipitation varies from 150-350 mm (mean 290 mm), of which 80% fall in the second half of summer. At the same time there are floods on the rivers. Winter is frosty, windless and not snowy. The warmest month is July, the coldest - January.

This ecosystem is shaped by 30 year climate cycle. Fluctuating water level of steppe lakes with area change from 900 km2 to several km2 creates dynamic mosaic of habitats and triggers changes in species populations and migration patterns. Reed (Phragmites australis) associations with sedge and cattail (Typha angustifolia) occur along the shore of Lake Barun-Torey, in the river mouths and floodplains. Reed beds are sparse and occupy 30-70% of the habitat area. The sector, covered by reed, is narrow, up to 100 m. Only the Kulustaisky bay is totally covered by the reed. Along river beds there are sedge and cattail communities, often combined with reed.

The list of species in Daursky includes 47 mammals, 317 birds, 3 reptiles, 2 amphibians. 4 species of mammals and 42 birds are included in the Russian Federation Red List of Threatened Species, 20 species of birds - in IUCN Red List. Torey Lakes are an important place of nesting such species as white-naped crane, great bustard, Asian dowitcher, relict gull. Also here there are nesting swan goose, steppe eagle, saker falcon, deadly nightshade, black-winged stilt, Pied avocet, eagle owl, Mongolian lark and Pere David’s snow finch. Here it is possible to meet during the migration Baer’s pochard, Siberian crane, white-naped crane, hooded crane, Baikal teal. Shore of Torey Lakes is place of recovery for herd of Mongolian gazelle, that was previously extirpated from Russia.

Flora of the wetland is unique for the territory of southern Transbaikalia. On a rather small territory of the wetland there grow close to each other species of steppes and of the wetlands. So far 440 species of vascular plants are known from Daursky. Here it is possible to notice several redlisted species: short-leaved asparagus, Mongolian cotoneaster, Daurian ephedra, milk-white iris, tiger iris, low iris, golder thrift, monopterous saltwort, narrow- leaved kochia, Ural licorice, Baikal skullcap, etc.

Climate cycle drives sharp dynamics of populations and communities of Torey Lakes. In times of intensive water level rise many shallow lakes are formed outside the territory of the Ramsar wetland, while inside designated wetland open area overgrow intensively and this has temporarily negative effect for the quantity of birds
and of nesting species. Uncontrolled fire hazards in spring in steppes and river floodplains also give a negative effect on the condition of the wetland. Torey Lakes are fed by rivers, which have 98% of their water catchment area on the territory of Mongolia and thus requires international coordination of water protection and management. On the Russian territory there are peasant’s farms along the Uldza and Imalka Rivers, close to the territory of the wetland.

The conservation of the territory of the wetland in the area of the reserve is conducted by its inspectors. All human activities are prohibited in the core zone (Daursky Nature Reserve). In the buffer zone it is prohibited to change the hydrological regime, the use of chemical pesticides, all kinds of hunting. Fishing is allowed in specially
designated places. The control of hunting and fishing on the territory of the Lake Zun-Torey, that is not the part of the reserve nor the part of its buffer zone is conducted by fishery inspections of Ononsky and Borzinsky Districts. Since 1994, Daursky Nature Reserve together with Dalai Lake National Nature Reserve in China and Mongol Daguur Strict Nature Reserve in Mongolia comprise Dauria International Protected Area with regular transboundary cooperation in research and environmental education.