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Daurian steppe


Dauria lies in the northern part of Central Asia and is ecologically strongly dependent on climate fluctuations. Most of the Daurian steppe area is situated in North-east China and East Mongolia; the Russian part is confined to Zabaikalsky Province and Buryat Republic. It is the largest preserved steppe in Eurasia from which the advance of Mongol conquer of the continent once started. The area possesses a very high level of biodiversity for a steppe zone and is included in the Global 200 Ecoregions of the World as Dauria Steppe, which according to WWF covers the Nenjiang River grassland, the Daurian forest-steppe, the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe, and the Selenge-Orkhon forest-steppe ecoregions. These grassland areas are united by geographic location, annual and multi-year rhythms in ecological factors, and structure and composition of communities. In terms of freshwater ecosystems, Eastern Dauria (part confined to Amur river Basin) has an area of half million square kilometers and is divided into 3 principal freshwater ecoregions: Shilka River, Argun River and Endorheic Basins of which Torey Lakes / Uldz River Basin is the most prominent.

Among vast arid steppe areas, the wetlands are nuclei of diversity especially for birds. Dauria’s wetlands are globally important for the nesting of rare birds and huge numbers of migrating waterbirds. All sites are international Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Wetlands support globally significant breeding populations of many endangered bird species, including the red-crowned (Grus japonensis) and white-naped (G. vipio) cranes, swan goose (Anser cygnoides), great bustard (Otis tarda), relict gull (Larus relictus) etc. They also are of international importance for the conservation of endangered migratory Siberian (G. leucogeranus) and hooded (G. monacha) cranes. More than 40 bird species registered here are listed both in the Red List of IUCN and the national Red Data Books of Russia, Mongolia, and China. The number of transitory migrants in the region’s bird fauna is not less than 45%. Several million waterbirds pass through the wetlands in spring and autumn via the intra-continental branch of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Several reserves in Dauria are listed as Wetlands of International Importance under Ramsar Convention. In 1994 a shared Daurian International Protected Area (DIPA) was created by Mongolia, China and Russia to protect and study biodiversity of the region.  All the three member-reserves currently composing original DIPA have Ramsar status (Dalai Lake in China, Mongol-Daguur in Mongolia and Daursky in Russia).  There is work underway to nominate this international protected area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Map of the steppe (grassland) biom (AHEC)