Vegetation Change on Bolshoi Iremel Peak 2 (Southern Urals, Russia) 1929 / 1999

Moiseev PA & Shiyatov SG

, 2003

This pair was taken in 1929 (L.N. Tyulina) and 1999 (P.A. Moiseev and S.G. Shiyatov) from the gentle saddle of the northern slope of Bolshoi Iremel. The foreground shows low open spruce forest in combination with meadow openings. The hill in the background is at 1335 m asl. A comparison of vegetation clearly shows the changes that have taken place in the morphological structure and range of low open spruce forests. In the 1930?s, elfin and bushy-formed spruce trees predominated on the gentle saddle. Now, the upright stem form of spruce trees, especially young trees and saplings, prevails. The earlier average height of spruce shrubs was 1-2 m and did not exceed 3-4 m, and the diameter of trunks at chest height was no more than 3-4 cm. Now, the average height is 6-7 m and the diameter 10-14 cm. The area occupied by meadow communities has decreased and tree density has increased. Settling of the forest vegetation continues in the present, as is evidenced by the plentiful regeneration both under tree crowns and on meadow openings. Earlier, low birch bushes grew very sparsely and there was no forest on the upper part of the visible hill. Now, close crook-stem birch forest grows there. In the summer of 2002, we installed a series of plots along an altitudinal gradient on the south-western slopes of Maly Iremel and we intend to continue this investigation on other slopes. The main objective is to study the influence of regional and global climate changes on the spatio-temporal dynamics of the upper treeline and carbon sequestration in the South Ural Mountains during the 20th century. Detailed information about this project can be found at http://www.wsl.ch/forest/INTAS_P2001-0052.

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Category: Paired pictures