Забайкалье великолепно

Природа Забайкальского края

Проект Олега Корсуна

Magnificent Transbaikalia

Nature of the Transbaikalian Region

Project by Oleg Korsun

Oak Grove Natural Monument

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The official name of this Natural Monument “Pad’ Dubnyaki” (Oak Valley) is a misnomer. The Mongolian oak can only be found in Transbaikalia on steep slopes above the Argun or Budyumkan Rivers. Here the oak trees are found among pines, Daurian larches and Daurian birches. These oaks are of smaller stature than the ones found in Europe or the Far East. Conditions for growth are harsh in Transbaikalia. This is a unique grove of the Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) in Transbaikalia. In order to see this grove, one needs to travel more than 600km from Chita to the Chinese border, overcoming a multitude of obstacles. You will see a grove which has been isolated for about 6 thousand years; nevertheless this isolated grove has maintained populations of monophagous butterflies normally associated with this species of oak, such as three species of Licaenidae (Favonius taxila, F. cognatus, Japonica lutea), Nimphalidae (Neptis thisbe), Hesperidae (Erynnis montanus), and Noctuidae (Catocala dula). All species, except for E. montanus and J. lutea, were first documented in 2001–2002, and are included in the Red Book of the Chita Region. These observations are the work of a Novosibirsk entomologist, Vladimir Dubatolov, who is the premier expert of this region. In 2002 our group (including entomologists Vladimir Dubatolov, Sergey Chernishev and student Galya Akulova) made other significant discoveries. For example, I documented the presence two Far Eastern species of Scarabaeid beetles: Cetonia viridiopaca and Gnorimus subopacus. This was the first observation of these species in Transbaikalia.
The oak trees grow in two locations in the Monument: in the lower part of the Budyumkan River and to the south, near the Polovinnaya Valley. Both locations were investigated for the first time in 1996 by an expedition of the Daursky Reserve (the initiative of the former directors of the Reserve: V. Brinikh and V. Dubatolov). But they were not first. An older description of the Mongolian oak was made here in the XVIII century.

Mongolian oaks have a very limited distribution in the Chita Region. The oaks can tolerate temperatures of -40–50o Centigrade, but not low humidity conditions. The valley of the Budyumkan River differs from the rest of the Chita region in that it possesses a special microclimate. Although we did not do direct measurements, a visitor to the valley notes the air is characterized by high humidity conditions. In 2001 at the end of May and the beginning of June we observed fog lying on the tops of the mountain ridges surrounding the valley. These are surprising observations for anyone who is familiar with the typical dry Transbaikalian spring.

Since the grove in the Monument is remote and under the protection of frontier guards, the major danger to these trees is a forest fire. The frontier guards periodically break oak branches for use as banya (sauna) besoms, but this practice is a minor problem. The increased use of forest resources and mining of minerals in the vicinity of the Monument brings more people to the area and increases the risk of forest fires. The threat is real, since there is active construction of forest roads in the district for forest products that are sold to China.

In retrospect, it is important for us to continue to find ways to preserve the flora and fauna of the oak grove since it is a unique genetic reserve in the Transbaikalian taiga where we can feel the breath of the ancient forests.

Oak Grove Natural Monument in the facts and figures.

Established in 1983.
Localization: Gazimuro-Zavudsky District of Chita Region.
Surface area: 300 hectares.
Type: botanical.

Atragene ochotensis is a siberian liana
River ice in June

Argun River is the border of two big states.

  Daurian birch (Betula davurica)
Paeonia lactiflora has the local name Mar'in koren' (Maria's root)  
The Budumkan River Valley

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