Daurian forest steppe

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Daurian steppe, Mongolia Photograph by © WWF-Canon/Georg SCHROEDER

Mongolia’s Daurian forest steppe ecoregion encompasses portions of the Khentii Mountain Range and includes numerous large rivers such as the Onon and the Ulz. Siberian larch forests, which include numerous herb species, birch pine, and aspen groves are characteristic for this area. The Red Data Book of Mongolia identifies a number of notable plant species of which fifteen are considered very rare, four rare, eight endemic, and thirteen subendemic. This ecoregion consists of a transboundary network of protected and unprotected areas including Daurskii Zapovednik territories in Russia, the Dalai Nor Nature Reserve in China, and Mongol Daguur SPA, Onon-Balj National Park, and Ugtam Uul Nature Reserve in Mongolia. Detrimental human activities include unregulated road construction, unsustainable grazing practices and illegal hunting.

Location and General Description

The Mongolian Daurian forest steppe covers marginal branches of the Khentii Mountain Range circling it in half-ring. This ecoregion supports large rivers such as the Onon and the Ulz. The average altitude of the mid-sized mountains reaches 1,400-1,800 meters (m) while the mean altitude of valleys is 1,100-1,200 m. The mean annual temperature is +0.6°C, while the mean minimum in January is –23°C and the mean maximum in July is +22°C. Mean annual precipitation is 150 millimeters (mm). The Pacific Ocean Drainage Basin is characterized by numerous rivers and marshes notably the Onon river which drains east to the Amur River. Forest types that are found in this ecoregion include Siberian larch forest with numerous herb species, mixed forests of birch-pine and birch-larch trees, and birch and shrub forests. Aspen (Populus tremula) groves are found in marginal mountains.

Flora of this area is composed of representative species of Daurian forest and mountain steppe however, Mongolian steppe plants dominate in the south. Distributed throughout the region are a variety of grass associations such as Carex-poaceoe meadow steppe, Compositae-Gramineae herbs steppe and sandy versions of saltmarsh-tussock steppe. Bordering these associations are halophytic Ahnaterum and Irridaceae-Puccinellia meadows at lake edges. Also along the shores of the lakes are reed groves, bush groves with herbs, willow, and aspen (Populus tremula). Carex-phragmites and carex-halophytic herb marshes are found in low, wet depressions.

Biodiversity Features

caption Mongolian Gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), Daurian Steppe, North Central Mongolia. (Photograph by WWF-Canon/Hartmut Jungius)

The Red Data Book of Mongolia recognizes the following floral species distinctions in this ecoregion: fifteen are considered very rare, four rare, eight endemic, thirteen subendemic, fifty-four medicinal, twenty-one are other useful plant species. Six of these are: Sophora flavescens, Rhododendron dauricum, Caryopteris mongolica, Valeriana offcinalis, Vicia Tsydenii, and Adonus mongolica.

Distributed throughout the river valleys, mountains, ravines, and canyons are scilly shrew (Crocidura sauveolens), harvest mouse (Micromys minutus), long-tailed souslik (Citellus undulatus), Maximovich’s vole (Microtus maximowiczii), Daurian pika (Ochotono daurica), Tolai hare (Lepus tolai), a number of hamster species (Phodopus spp.), Daurian tsokor (Myospalax aspalax), and Manchurian tsokor (Myospalax psilurus). Predator species include wolf (Canis lupus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), polecat (Vormela pereguzna), Eurasian badger (Meles meles), and Pallas’ cat (Otocolobus manul).

Seven bird species in this region are registered in the Red Data Book of Mongolia. 36 species are included in Appendix II of CITES, and 2 species are included in CITES Appendix I.

Groves of Puccinellia-Typhaceae are the main habitat for bearded tit (Panurus biarmicus), black-browed reed warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigceps), and great reed warbler (Acroceohalus arundinaceus). A large population of the endemic Daurian crane makes nests in wet areas of the steppes in the Ulz river and Amur valleys. Reptiles and amphibians of this area have not been researched to any degree. Seven species of fish are recognized in the Mongolian Dauria ecoregion, of which 2 (Carassius auritus gibelia and Cyprinus carpio haematopterus) are considered game fish.

Current Status

caption East of Lake Baikal, Russia. (Photograph by O. Kosterin)

The trans-boundary international protected-area network of Dauria is composed of Daurskii Zapovednik territories in the Chita region of Russia, Mongol Daguur SPA (1,030,000 hectares) in Mongolia, and the Dalai Nor Nature Reserve in China. There are also two protected areas in the Mongolian portion of the region, namely, Onon-Balj National Park (4,157,000 ha), and Ugtam Uul Nature Reserve (462,000 ha).

Types and Severity of Threats

Human activities have led to environmental changes in the ecoregion including the number and distribution of flora and fauna. Human activities include unregulated road construction, unsustainable grazing practices, and illegal hunting.

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation

This mosaic of grass and forest straddles the border between Russia and east-central Mongolia. In Russia, ecoregion boundaries correspond to the northern steppe in the Tuva-Buryat-Mongolian, and Dahurian-Mongolian vegetation provinces in Kurnaev’s forest map of the USSR. In Mongolia, the ecoregion incorporates the mountain and forest steppe zone, according to Hilbig and the Mongolia Ministry for Nature and Environment. The ecoregion claims a small part of China that contains sheep grass, needle thatch grassland according to CVMCC.

Additional Information on this Ecoregion

Further Reading

  • Chinese Vegetation Map Compilation Committee (CVMCC). 1979. Vegetation map of China. Map (1:10,000,000). Science Press, Beijing.
  • Dashnyam, B. 1974. Flora and Vegetation of Eastern Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (in Mongolian).
  • Dulamtseren, D. and D. Tsendjav. 1989. Mammals of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. (in Mongolian).
  • Gunin, P. D., E. A. Vostokova, and E. N. Matushkin. 1998. Preservation of the ecosystems of inner Asia. Russian-Mongolian joint complex expedition, Moscow (in Russian).
  • Hilbig, W. 1995. The Vegetation of Mongolia. SPB Academic Publishing, Amsterdam.
  • Kurnaev, S. 1990. Forest regionalization of the USSR (1:16,000,000). Department of Geodesy and Cartography, Moscow.
  • Mongolia Ministry for Nature and Environment, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Global Environment Facility (GEF), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 1996. Mongolias Wild Heritage, edited by C. Finch. Avery Press, Boulder
  • Murzaev, E. M. 1962. Geography of Mongolian People’s Republic, Moscow (in Russian).
  • National Atlas of Mongolian People’s Republic. 1990. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  • Management Plan of Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area (SPA), 2001-2004.
  • Ongoing research projects result collection of range in Eastern Mongolian Biodiversity and Eastern Mongolian Ecosystem project. Ulaanbaatar 2001.
  • Sokolov, V. E. and A. Bold, editors. 1996. Rare species of Mongolia (vertebrates), Moscow (in Russian).
  • Ulziikhutag, N. 1989. Flora of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (in Mongolian).
  • UNDP. 1998. Biological Diversity of Mongolia (National Report) Ulaanbaatar. MNE, UNDP, GEF.

Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the World Wildlife Fund. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the World Wildlife Fund should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.




Fund, W. (2014). Daurian forest steppe. Retrieved from


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