Belik, V.P. (2009) Birds of planted forests of the steppe Ciscaucasia
Belik, V.P. 2009. Birds of planted forests of the steppe Ciscaucasia: Composition and formation of ornithofauna in arid conditions. – Kryvyi Rih: Mineral. 215 p.
This book represents a text of the dissertation defended in 1986 at Institute of Zoology of Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kyiv. Despite a slight declining interest in this subject in the 1980s – after the release of a large series of publications of the Ukrainian and Russian zoologists, dedicated to the study of ornithofauna of steppe planted forests – these studies are still valid until now.
It’s the point that precisely at that period the USSR had accumulated extensive data on faunogenesis of birds, which were repeatedly discussed in the press, but, apparently, not comprehended to an end. Only recently, when it was prepared the information ground, “ploughed” by current global dynamics of the bird ranges, there arose prerequisites for a deeper analysis of the collected data of that period. And a brief overview of the problem, undertaken again in 2003 (Ornithologia (Ornithology), Issue 30, pp. 25-31), has found a very favorable response among specialists. Therefore, it would be useful once again to discuss these issues on particular materials, which are contained in the dissertation.
In addition, it is also important to take a retrospective look at the faunistic situation of the 1970s, characterized by an extremely dry climate with two severe droughts in 1972 and 1975 covering almost the entire territory of North Eurasia. They then led to a massive shrinkage in the stands of artificial forests of the steppe zone, the disappearance of some mesophilous animal species in steppe forests and, on the contrary, invasion of some xerophilous forms from the south.
But already in the late 1970s characteristics of climatic processes in the steppe south have dramatically changed. A pluvial period started in 1979 and continuing until the present time, caused no less dramatic changes in the fauna of the steppe forests. They began manifesting themselves already in the early 1980s, being especially noticeable in the centuries-old plantations of Donskoy and Leninsky (Aleksandrovsky) forestries of Rostov region. Further researches in stands of artificial forests conducted in the south of Rostov region have demonstrated cardinal changes not only in fauna but also in population of birds of the steppe forest plantations (Belik, Zabashta 2001).
So now, unless the climatic trends change again, it is essential to repeat the broad scan survey of ornithofauna of planted forests in the steppe south to collect a specific factual material for clarifying the above-mentioned features of the modern faunogenesis, compare the current state of the ornithofauna with that of the 1970s, and check forecasts made 20 years ago. And the publication of this book may stimulate new researches in this direction.
The book represents a brief history of studying the birds of planted forests of the steppe zone, describes forest-growing conditions of the steppe Ciscaucasia and gives characteristics of all investigated stands of artificial forests. Next, there are lists of all bird species observed in these forests and brief sketches of breeding dendrophils, including 10 species of birds of prey. A major part of the work is a detailed analysis of all the biotic and abiotic factors determining the composition of the ornithofauna of artificial forests, and analysis of characteristics of development of fauna and bird population in planted forests of the steppe Ciscaucasia, as well as general discussion of the genesis of the avifauna of artificial plantations of the steppe zone.
The publication is of interest not only for ornithologists experts, but also for birdwatchers, students and teachers in schools and universities, as well as for foresters practitioners, for whom birds are the main helpers in the fight against pests of the steppe forest plantations.
V.P. Belik, specially for the UBPRC website