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Biomes and Regions of Northern Eurasia

The Mountains of Southern Siberia

<<< The Mountains of Northern Russia: Conclusions | Biomes & Regions Index | The Origin of the Mountains and the Baikal Rift >>>


The southern rim of Siberia is surrounded by the mountainous systems of the Altay, Sayans, and the Baikal region which continue into the mountains of Transbaikalia and Mongolia. This area contains one of the most interesting continental-scale landforms of Eurasia — the Baikal rift. The degree to which the mountains of Southern Siberia have been researched varies. The amount of literature related to the Baikal rift and the Baikal sedimentary record, which have been subjects of extensive research by many Russian and international teams, is enormous. The glacial history and vegetation of the Altay and Sayan mountains are relatively well known. By contrast, our knowledge of the Stanovoy Ridge and the Transbaikalian mountains, especially their environmental history, is still very poor.

This chapter consists of five main parts. The first explains briefly the origin of the mountains of Southern Siberia and provides a summary of opinions on the Baikal rift. The next four sections discuss the environments of the Altay, Sayans, the mountains of Baikalia and Transbaikalia, the Stanovoy Ridge, and the Dzhugdzhur, emphasizing environmental history, contemporary climate and glaciation, slope and cryogenic processes, and biota. The section on Baikalia and Transbaikalia focuses on the mountainous regions; Lake Baikal is discussed below. Throughout this chapter, terms and concepts related to the permafrost and taiga vegetation, common in the Russian-language literature, are used. These are explained above, respectively. One particular biogeographical term, used in relation to the mountains of Southern Siberia, requires explanation. The upper belt in the vertical vegetation sequence in Southern Siberia is known as goltsy (bare rocks or bald mountains). This belt contains bare rocks, fragments of tundra vegetation and individual dwarf shrubs with the plant cover becoming progressively thinner with altitude.

<<< The Mountains of The Mountains of Northern Russia: Conclusions | Biomes & Regions Index | The Origin of the Mountains and the Baikal Rift >>>



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