A Border of Grass and Shrubs
is grassland and steppe-dominated ecoregion on the border between northwest China and Kazakhstan includes cold temperate mountains and shallow saline lakes. These lakes provide breeding habitat for two globally threatened bird species: the Dalmatian pelican and relict gull.
The western end of the Emin Valley ecoregion is perhaps the most biologically distinctive part. The large and shallow saline lakes, Alakol and Sasakol, are surrounded by steppe vegetation and separated from one another by a large expanse of Phragmites reed beds. This is habitat for several threatened mammal species, although it is not certain that they remain here. These include ibex and saiga antelopes, as well as two of their predators, snow leopards and wolves.
Both Alakol and Sasakol lakes have historically supported breeding populations of the relict gull and Dalmation pelican. Surveys in 1998 located a large number of pelicans but did not record the gull, although the gulls may be there at another time of year. The Tacheng Nature Reserve here supports riparian communities that contain wild almond trees.
Cause for Concern
le population density is low in northwest China, it is quickly increasing, as is agricultural development. Grasslands are fenced and enclosed for ranching or farming, preventing not only the free movement of livestock, but also wild animals. As the human population grows, hunting and trapping pressures increase as well.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001