Alpine vegetation of the Ivanovskiy, Prokhodnoy and Rossypnoy Ridges (Western Altai)

E. G. Zibzeev, T. A. Nedovesova



The mountain systems are characterized by diverse ecological conditions (climate, geomorphological, soil, etc.). The wide spectrum of environmental conditions entails a rich diversity of plant communities growing on the small territory and determines the different flora and vegetation geneses. The uniqueness of floristic and coenotic diversities of the high-mountain vegetation of the south of Western Altai (Ivanovskiy, Prokhodnoi, and Rossypnoi Ranges) are associated with the effect of two climate-forcing factors such as the westerly humid air mass and dry warm airflow from the inner Kazakhstan regions. The paper summarizes the data on coenotic diversity (Zibzeev, 2010, 2012) and gives a syntaxonomic analysis of the high-mountain vege­tation in the Ivanovskii, Prokhodnoi, and Rossypnoi Ranges (Western Altai, Kazakhstan).

The classification of plant communities was carried out using the Braun-Blanquet approach (Westhoff, van der Maarel, 1973). The relevés records were stored in the TURBOVEG database and classified by ­TWINSPAN (Hill 1979).

The high-mountain vegetation of the area studied includes 5 classes, 5 orders, 6 alliances, 11 associations, and nine subassociations. The subalpine belt comprises two vegetation bands; the lower one (1600–1750 m) consists of subalpine tall grass communities, tall grass-larch, and Siberian pine-larch thin forests of the Aconito pascoi–Geranion albiflori alliance. The communities of ass. Dactylido glomeratae–Stemmacanthetum carthamoidis are confined to a timber line. The communities of ass. Phlomoido alpinae–Saussuretum latifoliae are similar in the humidic pattern but they occupy in the higher slope areas. Unlike the above described coenoses, they are formed in the mid-subalpine belt. The distinguishing features are a low abundance of the species belonging to the order Trollio–Crepidetalia sibiricae and an increase in the abundance and projective cover of the high-mountain species Aquilegia glandulosa, Carex aterrima, Doro­nicum altaicum, and Omalotheca norvegica. The communities of the ass. Dactylido glomeratae–Aconitetum septentrionales (alliance Trollio asiaticae–Crepidion sibiricae) are observed along the banks of some ri­vers, brooks, and temporary water flows. Their cha­racteristic feature is a permanent presence of the hygrophytes and hemihygrophytes Angelica decurrens, Calamagrostis langsdorffii, Caltha palustris, Cardamine macrophylla, Delphinium elatum, Ranunculus monophyllus, and Veratrum lobelianum. All above described coenoses contain the species that are characteristic of meadow and forest communities of the forest and forest-steppe belts, namely, Alopecurus pratensis, Dactylis glomerata, Dianthus superbus, Galium ve­rum, Phleum phleoides, and Potentilla chrysantha also, which is untypical of the tall grass communities in the subalpine belt in the north of Western Altai as well as the overall humid Altai and Sayan high-mountain regions. The upper vegetation band in the subalpine belt (from 1750 to 1900–2000 m) is represented by the subalpine meadows of the Schulzio crinitae–Aqui­legietalia glandulosae alliance, namely, the meadows of the ass. Aquilegio glandulosae–Festucetum krylovianae, Festuco krylovianae–Anthoxantetum alpini, and subass. Aquilegio glandulosaeFestucetum krylovianae saussureetosum frolowii. Alpine and arctic-alpine species of the order Schulzio crinitae–Aquilegietalia glandulosae (Anthoxanthum alpinum, Aquilegia glandulosa, Dracocephalum grandiflorum, Gentiana grandiflora, Luzula sibirica, Omalotheca norvegica, Schulzia crinita, Trisetum altaicum, and Viola altaica) and regional alliance Aquilegio glandulosae–Festucion krylovianae (Deschampsia altaica, Dichodon cerastoides, Festuca kryloviana, Hedysarum austrosibiricum, Minuartia biflora, Pachypleurum alpinum, Ranunculus altaicus, Sibbaldia procumbens, and Veronica densiflora) are prevalent in the grass layer. The abundance and projective cover of high-mountain species are insignificant with the exception of Stemmacantha carthamoides: its projective cover in some communities is up to 10% and higher. The meadows of the Salicetea herbaceae class periodically occur along the nival terraces on the contact zone of the subalpine and alpine belts. These communities are unique and limited by extreme conditions (low temperature of the surface air layer and upper soil horizon, constant cold seepage moistening, absence of humus horizon, constant eluviation of fine soil and nutrients, short vegetation period). The chionophiles Dracocephalum grandiflorum, Gentiana grandiflora, Ranunculus altaicus, Sibbaldia procumbens, Swertia obtusa, and Viola altaica are prevalent in the grass layer. These high-mountain species have the Asian origin. The central part of their distribution lies in the Altai-Sayan Mountain region. The lower boundary of the alpine belt is at an altitude of 1800 m. The alpine meadows of the Juncetea trifidi class are prevalent in the vegetation cover. They are represented by the ass. Violo altaicae–Festucetum krylovianae (subass. typicum and sibbaldietosum procumbentis) and Festuco krylovianae–Schulzietum crinitae (subass. typicum and asteroetosum alpini) and comprise fescue-sweet vernal grass, sweet vernal grass-fescue, sedge-sweet vernal grass, and schulzia-fescue communities. Alpine and arctic-alpine species (Anthoxanthum alpinum, Carex tristis, Dracocephalum grandiflorum, Festuca kryloviana, Gentiana grandiflora, Luzula sibirica, Schulzia crinita, Swertia obtusa, Tripleurospermum ambiguum, and Viola altaica), representing a group of higher taxa of the class, form the basis of their coenoflora. High constancy and projective cover of subalpine meadow species (Bistorta major, Carex aterrima, Doronicum altaicum, and Pedicularis proboscidea) are also cha­racteristic of these communities. An exception is the communities of ass. Festuco krylovianae–Schulzietum crinitae subass. typicum, which are confined to colder and drier habitats; as a result, their coenoflora is enriched in species characteristic for the higher taxa of the Carici rupestris–Kobresietea bellardii class (Carex ledebouriana, Flavocetraria nivalis, Gentiana algida, Helictotrichon hookeri, Lloydia serotina, Luzula sibirica, Minuartia verna, Patrinia sibirica, Pedicularis oederi, and Thamnolia vermicularis). The tundra communities of the studied area are represented by the ass. Carici tristis–Dryadetum oxyodontae. They are low abundant, being mainly confined to gentle slopes of northern and northwestern exposures (altitudes, 1800–1850 m). These communities cluster at higher altitudes (1920–2050 m) on the eastern slopes, but on the southern slopes with rainless conditions they go down to 1650 m. Cryophytes prevalent in the coenoflora of dryad tundras are characteristic of the higher taxa of the class (Arctous alpina, Bupleurum triradiatum, Carex rupestris, Dryas oxyodonta, Hierochloё alpine, etc.), whereas the share of alpine meadow species characteristic of the class Juncetea trifidi considerably decreases. The shrub coenoses with Betula rotundifolia and Salix glauca are absent in the subalpine and alpine belts in the south of Western Altai (especially, the Prokhodnoi and Rossypnoi Ranges). The communities formed by Juniperus pseudosabina and J. sibirica (ass. Hylocomio splendentis–­Juniperetum sibiricae) are typical of this area.

Key words: Altai-Sayan mountain region, Western Altai, alpine vegetation, open woodlands, tall-forb, alpine ­meadows, classification, Braun-Blanquet

Section: Articles

How to cite

Zibzeev E. G., Nedovesova T. A. 2015. Alpine vegetation of the Ivanovskiy, Prokhodnoy and Rossypnoy Ridges (Western Altai) // Vegetation of Russia. N 27. P. 96–124.

Received March 3 2015


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Zibzeev E. G. 2012. Classification of the vegetation of alpine belts of the Ivanovskiy and Prokhodnoy ridge (Western Altai) // Bulletin of the NSU. Series: biology, clinical medicine. T. 10. Vol. 2. P. 31–40. (In Russian)

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