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Khingano-Arkharinskaya lowland

Geographical Coordinates 49°10’N, 130°00’E (48°54’-49°32’ N, 129°37’-130°44’E)

Geographical Location
In southern Amur Region, near the border with China, 175 km southeast of the city of Blagoveshchensk. The site includes vast floodplain areas in the middle course
of the Amur River, between the Bureya and Khingan Rivers, to the south-west of Trans-Siberian railway.

Area:  188,073 ha

Altitude:  90—504 m a. s. l.

Wetland Type
Ramsar classification - Ts, Tp, O, M

Ramsar Criteria:  1a, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c. The main - 1c and 2a - unique landscapes with nesting of rare birds

Unique wet forest-steppe (prairie) ecosystems in the Amur valley, a very important breeding area for rare and threatened birds.
Created on September 13, 1994.

Geology and geomorphology.  Plains in the Amur valley are composed of the Neogene and Pleistocene siltyloam lacustrine sediments. The lower portion of the floodplain
includes islands and beaches; the higher level floodplain contains a complex of levees, oxbow lakes and marshes. Above the floodplain, there are two terraces.

The rivers are fed mainly by rain. The spring flood is not high, the level of water may rise considerably after monsoon rains in summer.

The area has a monsoon temperate climate (the most continental variant of this climatic type). The summers in the area are the hottest in the Russian Far East. The mean air temperatures are +20,5°C in July and -25,5°C in January. The warm period, when the temperature is above zero, lasts for 100—110 days. The growing period for vegetation is 140-160 days. Annual precipitation varies from 550 to 600 mm, with only 15% falling in winter. The snow cover is not deep, and the soil freezes to 1,5-2 m.

The soils are predominantly of the meadow types, with a high humus content (5—12%). The humus horizon is 20-60 cm deep. At lower places, gley soils occur, with an underlying layer of clay. The high-level floodplain is covered by forests on soddy-alluvial and brown soils.

Wet meadows with herbs, Calamagrostis sp. and Carex sp., are the most widespread. Being underlain by clays, these meadows are waterlogged for a long time after heavy rains. The herbs are dense and tall (100—120 cm high), and are dominated by Calamagrostis purpurascens (80—85% of the biomass), Lycopus sp., Lythrum sp., Valeriana sp. and Sanguisorba sp. Meadows at the highlevel floodplain show a rich diversity (60 species) and abundance of flowering plants, such as Lilium sp., Nypripedium sp., Iris ensata and Paeonia lactiflora. On the terraces, dry meadows with Calamagrostis epigeios and various herbs are found. These are not large in area. Grass fens are situated in depressions underlain by clays. The herbage is 40—50 cm high. These communities are dominated by Calamagrostis neglecta, Carex
lasiocarpa, and Carex meyerana. Eriophorum sp. occur at lower levels of the floodplain. The mouths of the rivers and shores of the lakes are overgrown with reed Phragmites, which is up to two metres high, as well as with Typha sp., Sagittaria sp., Acorus calamus, Menyanthes sp., and Lycopus sp. Aquatic plants include Potamogeton sp., Lemna sp., Nimphaea tetragona, and Trapa natans.

The significance of the region as a place for migratory birds
Migrating waterbirds include greylag goose (Anser anser), white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), beangoose (Anser fabalis), Brent goose (Branta bernicla), Baikal teal (Anas formosa), mallard (A. platyrhynchos) and Northern pintail (A. acuta). However, these information is outdated. In the latest decades there were no observations for migration and nesting of Anatidae. Till now falcated duck (Anas falcata) is a common breeding specie.
The significance of the region as a place for nesting
The breeding avifauna of the eastern foreststeppe contains representatives of the Chinese and European faunistic types. The former includes pied harrier (Circus melanoleucus), Siberian ruddy crake (Porzana paykullii), shortwinged cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus), black-browed reed wabler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps), and greyhooded bunting (Emberiza fucata). The latter includes yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola), blueheaded wag tail (Motacilla flava) and other common species.
The significance of the region as a place for rare and threatened species
The wetlands of the area are of particular importance for breeding populations of rare and threatened birds. Fifteen species included in the Russian Federation Red List of Threatened Species have been registered at the site (Andronov, 1987), including: Oriental stork (Ciconia boyciana), black stork (C. nigra); swan goose, mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), Chinese merganser (Mergus squamatus), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), golden eagle (Aqila chrysaetos), white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), gyr falcon (Falco gyrfalcon), Japanese crane (Grus japonensis), Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus), white-naped crane (Grus vipio), hooded crane (Grus monacha), great bustard (Otis tarda dybowskiii), little whimbler (Numenius minutus).
The significance of the region as a place for conservation of biodiversity of mammals, amphibian and reptiles
The regional mammal fauna contains representatives of the oriental fauna, such as Tscherskia triton, Lepus mandshuricus, and Nyctereutes procyonoides. Steppe species include Cricetulus barabensis and Spermophilus undulatus.

The flora of the area is represented by 700 species of vascular plants. Ten species included in the Russian Federation Red List of Threatened Species occur at the site. These are Braseria scheberi, Dioscorea nipponica, Aldrovanda vesiculosa, Iris ensata, Cypripedium calceolus, C. macranthon, Pagonia japonica, Paeonia lactifolia, P.obovata, and Trapa natans.