Дата публикации: 23 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Natalya KOROLYOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №5, 2014, C.93-98
Номер публикации: №1637657188

Natalya KOROLYOVA, (c)

by Natalya KOROLYOVA, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Senior Research Assistant of the Polar Alpine Botanical Gardens-Institute named after N. Avrorin of the RAS Kola Scientific Center (Kirovsk, Murmansk Region)


Geobotany, a science on vegetable cover, is fundamental for any natural research. The root "geo" in this word goes back to the Greek goddess of the Earth Gaea who, as the legend has, was the first to appear from the Chaos and gave birth to all flesh on the planet. When studying vegetation, specialists conceive its structural regularities and dynamics influenced by environmental and anthropogenic factors, try to renew the past and forecast future development of ecosystems. Flora and vegetation of the Kola Peninsula have been studied since the late 13th century; however, the territory has not been studied evenly. Next to well-studied areas, there are blank spots waiting for pioneer explorers. This article is dedicated to the history, present-day state, and problems of geobotany in the Murmansk Region.

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Vegetation plan of the Pirya Guba Bay coastline, Kandalaksha Gulf, White Sea, made by Karl Regel in the course of the expedition across the Kola Peninsula in the early 20th century.





Geobotany, a mixture of biological and geographical sciences, is relatively young, as compared with these "classical" disciplines. Theoretical principles of this science were first formed and developed by the great German natural scientist Alexander Humboldt (1767-1835). In Russia, it separated from other botanical sciences in the late 19th century. As for the official recognition of this science and its terminology, this took place at the Brussels International Botanical Congress in 1910.


Studies of vegetation of the Kola Territory as a part of the Arctic is one of the striking pages in the history of Russian science. In the 1830s-1840s, one of the first geographical expeditions organized by the St. Petersburg AS headed by Acad. Karl Ernst von Baer, one of the founders of the Russian Geographical Society, forefather of embryology and comparative animal anatomy, was sent to the Kola Lapland. Many leading scientists worked there: the pioneer of permafrost studies, geographer, zoologist, botanist and natural scientist, Academician and permanent secretary of the Petersburg AS Alexander Middendorf, Assistant Professor in mineralogy at the Tartu University Alexander Shrenk, prominent botanist-systemizerand florist, founder of the Russian genetic geography of plants Franz Ruprecht. The first major geobotanical monograph was written upon request of the St. Petersburg Society of Natural Scientists by Karl Regel, Professor of the Tartu University, who in 1911-1914 studied the coastline of the Barents and White seas, Khibini and Lovozersk Mountains, valleys of Varzuga, Tuloma, Umba, Ponoya rivers, and many other regions that are difficult of access even today. Finnish botanists actively examined the Kola Peninsula in the 19th-early 20th centuries, when parts of its terri-

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tory and Karelia formed part of the Great Duchy of Finland in the composition of the Russian Empire. It has much in common with the Finnish territory in terms of geological structure and vegetation; that is why local natural scientists considered it their national duty to study the nature of the peninsula.


In the 20th century, studies of vegetation in the northern outskirts of the USSR were stimulated by first steps in exploration of natural wealth of the Arctic. In the 1920s-1930s, the prominent geobotanist Yuri Tsinzerling worked there as a participant of several expeditions. His fixed-route studies of the north-eastern part of the Kola Peninsula, including data on the Tersky coastline and the central part of the Murmansk Region, were used to make a map, review and botanical-geographical zoning of vegetation of the north-west of the European part of our country.


In the 1930s, vast tundra territories of the USSR were studied in terms of land development, map making, and inventory of deer pastures. At that time, geobotanists described in detail not only plant communities, but also geomorphological peculiarities of the locality, geological structure and soils, made vegetation maps as a source for reindeer-breeding. From 1929 to 1949 the territory was twice covered by geobotanical surveying. The obtained materials were used to make the Map of the Kola Peninsula in the scale of 1:1,000,000 (1953) by the employee of the Polar-Alpine Botanical Gardens-Institute of the USSR AS Kola Branch Yevgeny Chernov. The explanatory text offered a detailed analysis of floristic and geobotanical studies in the Murmansk Region from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century, a description and illustrations of the main types of plant communities, a review of geobotanical areas specified by the author. This work is still the most complete and reliable regional cartographic piece.


Another major monograph of geobotanical and floristic studies of two neighboring regions was an analytical review of the flora of the Murmansk Region and Karelia by Marianna Ramenskaya, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), who was employed at the Polar-Alpine Botanical Gardens of the Kola Branch of the USSR AS from 1964 to 1976. She focused her attention on environmental protection, cultivation of apatite-nephelinic dumps, plant biochemistry, and restoration of forests. The most well-known works by Ramenskaya (co-author Valentina Andreeva) are the Classifier of Higher Plants of the Murmansk Region and Karelia (1982) and the Analysis of Flora of the Murmansk Region and Karelia (1983). Brief geobotanical characteristics of natural zones and landscape provinces are still most cited in the printed works dedicated to the local nature.




Currently, continuous geobotanical surveys are carried out by employees of the Polar-Alpine Botanical Gardens-Institute named after N. Avrorin, Institute for Problems of Industrial Environment of the North, Kola Scientific Center, RAS, Kola Center for Protection of Nature (Apatity), local natural reserves, and specialized scientific centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk.


So far, the syntaxonomic* diversity of zonal and mountain tundras as well as forest tundra of the Murmansk Region have been studied; scientists made a prodromus** of associations, multiyear studies of vegetation in specially protected areas are carried out. In order to preserve the population of wild reindeer and local geographical landscape, scientists described basic forest associations, mountain and tundra vegetation growing in the Lapland State Natural Biosphere Reserve, one of the oldest reserves in our county founded in 1930. In-depth


*Syntaxonomy-a section of geobotany specializing in classification of plant communities and development of standards of phytocenological nomenclature.-Ed.


** Prodromus (from Greek prodromos-precursor)-a list of plant syntaxons specifying distinctive features and substantiating their hierarchy.-Ed.

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Geobotanical knowledge of the Murmansk Region:


■-areas where separate types of vegetation are described (less than 25 geobotanical descriptions for one or several types of vegetation);


■-areas where vegetation diversity is revealed to a considerable extent (from 25 to 100 descriptions of all main types of vegetation);


■-areas where vegetation diversity has been described almost fully (over 100 descriptions for practically all types of vegetation).


Black squares-published geobotanical descriptions, grey squares-descriptions to be published.


studies and a large-scale mapping of maritime and ornithogenic vegetation in the Kandalaksha Natural Reserve established to protect habitats of marine, water and peri-aquatic fowl (first of all, eider) were implemented. The survey of natural territorial habitats was completed and a landscape map of the State Natural Reserve Pasvik set up in 1992 in the remote north-west of the Kola Peninsula was prepared.


The bibliography of studies of the central part of the Murmansk Region in the districts of technogenic influence counts more than 1,000 sources. In the area where Severonikel industrial complex is located (a major producer of non-ferrous metals established in 1938 near Monchegorsk), specialists registered deterioration of pine forests, studied resistance and processes of recovery of phytocenoses. Besides, scientists studied dynamics of changing status of vegetation exposed to a constant air pollution and a catastrophic event valid for one time only (forest fires), developed methods of forest restoration in terms of different anthropogenic impacts. On the basis of results of multiyear observations, including observations made from the American remote sensing satellites Land-sat, scientists made some conclusions on the changing structure of vegetation in the forests and mountain tundras in the area of Monchegorsk, Zapolyarny and Nikel.


Mapping is one of the main lines of the present-day geobotany. You might as well say it is a connecting unit for all geosciences. The geobotanical map is a complex work integrating all characteristics of vegetation and representing its floristic composition and structure, dynamic state, ecological and geographical links. Typological geobotanical mapping of the Kola Peninsula is both a result and a method of cognizing of the most important regional regularities of the structure and state of the plant cover. Among considerable achievements in the field of cartography, we can name Map of Vegetation of the Central Part of the Murmansk Region (1:100,000) compiled in 2011 on the basis of an analysis of ground and remote data aerophoto- and cosmic pictures, covering most of the Lapland Natural Reserve, Khibini Mountains and technologically transformed suburbs of Severonikel iron and steel works.


The analysis of "behavior" of the local plant communities listed in the regional Red Data Book and identification of the most valuable biotops contributed a lot to theoretical substantiation of the steps taken to protect the local nature. As a result, scientists established a coenotic conjugation between rare species of vascular plants and bryophytes and their links with rare types of phytocenoses, as well as coenotic dependence of groups of rare species of bryophytes, linchens, and cyanoprocaryotes (blue-green algae).


In 2011, the joint Russian-Finnish project aimed to take an inventory of species most valuable for preserva-

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tion of biological diversity in the territory of Archangelsk, Vologda, Leningrad, and Murmansk regions, Karelia and St. Petersburg with the participation of scientific institutions, local management bodies, and nongovernment organizations was completed. The results of this project are reflected in the book Preservation of Valuable Natural Habitats in the North-West of Russia. It is worth saying that the present-day state of vegetation was assessed through a single technique using remote sounding data, which helped obtain the most reliable and up-to-date results.


Current geobotanical studies in the Murmansk Region are diverse and in line with the applicable international standards; however their "compactness" is rather uneven. The central forest part is the most studied region, while vegetation in the eastern and north-eastern parts is poorly studied, since this territory is difficult of access. Bogs, predominant in area and diversity of

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plant species, are still little known. Another task is to make an updated vegetation map on the basis of field data and remote information, since the currently used map was compiled over 50 years ago and a few large-scale maps cover only a small part of the territory under consideration.


Further socio-economic development of the region is connected with exploration, sustainable and long-term use of its natural resources accompanied by preservation of local biological diversity. That's why this region is in need of highly qualified ecologists, bachelors and holders of a master's degree, capable of solving pressing problems of natural wealth (including vegetation) inventory, ecological examination and monitoring of the results of anthropogenic influence on the ground phytobiota.


There are three educational institutions in the Murmansk Region offering "Ecology" and "Ecology and Environmental Protection" programs; however, the subject "geobotany" is not included in the training module, which means that our students have no access even to the basic level of geobotanical knowledge. Unfortunately, such situation is typical of some other biological disciplines. In particular, there are no specialists actively engaged in protection of the ground phytodiversity of the region at the branches of Petrozavodsk University and Murmansk Technical University. Geobotanical knowledge is not called for and absence of continuity in getting this knowledge can have irreversible consequences. Young professionals-ecologists and biologists-have a vague notion about vegetation in the Murmansk Region and Russia in general. To ensure a real integration of science and higher education into the program of departments of biology and ecology, it is necessary to introduce a course of geobotany and employ qualified practitioners from the institutes of the Academy of Sciences.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 23 ноября 2021 года

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