ASU botanists study the lichens of relict forests in Salair

31 May 2019 Department of Information and Media Communications
The scientists of Altai State University are starting to study the biodiversity of relict forests located in the poorly studied Altai territory of Salair Ridge.

Senior research officer of the South-Siberian Botanical Garden at ASU, Evgeni A. Davydov, headed the project entitled “Study of the Population Structure and Eco-Coenotic Distribution of Rare Lichen Species of Salair Ridge for Completing the Red Book and Planning Territorial Nature Protection in Altai Krai”, which received financial support from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research at the beginning of this year support. The research team of the project consists of scientists from Altai, Kemerovo and Vladivostok.

“Earlier I supervised a project to create an inventory and determiner of lichens in Altai Krai, where all data on this group of biological organisms in the region would be summarized. As part of the project, we used botanical and geographical zoning of the region, proposed by Professor Marina M. Silantyeva, to show the species diversity of each specific natural region of Altai Krai. As a result, we found out that a certain kind of “white spot” on the map of the region are the districts of Salair and in Predsalair, where previously only four species of lichen were known, and after our work this figure increased to hundreds of species. But it is very small. For example, from the Kemerovo and Novosibirsk regions, Salair is the most fully studied area, with an indication of about 700 species of this group of organisms. Therefore, it was decided to develop a separate project for the biological research of Salair Ridge,” project supervisor, the only lichenologist in Altai Krai Evgeni Davydov said.

It is known that lichens play an important role in the circulation of substances in nature, in particular in nitrogen fixation; being pioneers of vegetation, they are of great importance in the consolidation of soils, both in natural and anthropogenically disturbed landscapes. Lichens can be reliable indicators of the state of the environment, ecologically continuous and biologically valuable communities.

Salair region has a unique forest with high biodiversity, territories of relict communities: black forests, including those with Siberian linden, spruce and cedar, which have not been studied at all from the point of view of lichen flora. At the same time, research by scientists has shown that there are more relict species among lichens than among plants.

“Studies of the structure of populations of rare and endangered species are a necessary basis for predicting their future and, accordingly, developing a strategy for the protection of these territories. Information on biologically valuable forests and rare species is also relevant to justify the boundaries of specially protected natural areas, in particular, when functional zoning of Togul National Park planned in this area is carried out,” Evgeni A. Davydov said and added that it is easy to lose this biological territory. “The time period for the risk of losing the scientific and environmental value of this territory if it does not establish a special regime of protection and use, is estimated by environmentalists at 10-15 years.”

The project on the study of rare lichens of Salair Ridge is designed for three years, since the determination of lichens requires a long field and laboratory work, scrupulous study of each specimen using light microscopy, thin-layer chromatography, DNA methods.

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