Monitoring  Introduction

      The Sikhote     Alin Sanctuary was organized in 1935 to protect rare animal and plant species of The Ussuri taiga, e.g. the Ussuri tiger, the ginseng, the Fauri rhododendron and others. The Sanctuary is situated on the eastern and western macroslopes in thecentral section of Sikhote Alin ridge within the bounds of  the physico-geographic province of the Sikhote Alin
Mountains of the Amur-Primorye physico-geographic region.
      Complexly ramified low mountain chains and spurs, valleys and ravines (Pictures 5 and 9) determine the relief of central Sikhote Alin. The Sanctuarys highest peak is Mt.Glukhomanka (1,598 m), but most frequently local mountain altitudes range from 500 to 800 m above sea level. The eastern slope of Sikhote Alin is noticeably steeper than the western slope, and often breaks in the sea in the form of weird cliffs and rocky benches (Picture 4). Swamping often occurs on coastal lowlands with resultant briny and fresh-water lakes. Numerous small rivers and streams, notably Rivers Dzhigitovka, Serebrianka and Taezhnaya, start and flow across the Sanctuary.
    In summer, the northern branch of the East Asia monsoon that brings humid sea air influences the territory. Maximum precipitation occurs in August, the rainiest month of the year. From 80 to 85 percent of annual precipitation falls in summertime. In winter, cold dry Arctic air masses are blown over the Sanctuary from the Siberian anticyclone region. The first snowfall occurs on the main watershed in early October to form a stable snow blanket in late Novemberearly December. Sometimes, winters see no snowfall whatsoever, causing the soil to freeze to as much as 2.5 m deep. The average monthly temperature in January in Ternei Inlet from 1951 to 1965 fluctuated from 9.4o to  16.3oC, and on the western macroslope, only 100 km away from Ternei in Melnichnoye, from 19.4o to 27.9oC over the same time of the year. The average July temperatures in maritime areas is 14-15oC, and on the western macroslope normally 2-4oC higher than on the eastern macroslope. On the western macroslope, maximum summer temperatures occur in July, and on the eastern macroslope in August. The mean annual air temperature on the western macroslope ranges from 0.4o to 1oC, on the eastern macroslope from 1.5 to 2oC, and on the seacoast in Ternei is over 3oC. The mean annual precipitation on the western macroslope ranges from 500 to 600 mm, on the eastern macroslope from 700 to 750 mm, and on the seacoast amounts up to 900 mm.
    In the lower and central mountain belts, brown alpine-forest subacid soils with thin sublayer and soft humus are developed in lower and central mountain belts under conifer--broad-leaved and broad-leaved forests, said soils being saturated with bases.  Weak iron accumulation of erosion horizon is sometimes observed. Coarse humus brown alpine-forest soils with dry peated humus are developed over narrow low rocky watersheds under cedar trees and oak rhododendron forests. Gleyey brown soils are widespread under firs, pines and white birch trees over flat vast watersheds and at foothills of mountain slopes. Peat bog floodplain soils, in which the peat layer with interlayers of mineral material is up to 30-40 cm thick, form under bogged wild rosemary-meadow-reed grass alder groves. Low river floodplains are characterized by layered primitive alluvial- and brown-alluvial soils. Dark turf-glayey soils, in which the dark humus horizon, saturated with bases and having a neutral or weak-alkaline reaction, is up to 20-40 cm thick, are developed under bogged tall grass tree-shrub undergrowths in the maritime strip.
    Within a system of the Earths botanic (floristic) zoning developed by A.L. Takhtadzhian (1978), the Sikhote Alin Biosphere Sanctuary belongs to Ussuri Region, Manchurian Province, East-Asia Region, Boreal Subkingdom, Holarctic Kingdom. Numerous species, representing the so-called Turgai flora that prevailed in Paleocene and Neocene over the entire area of the recent Holarctic Kingdom, grow here to include cuspidate yew (Taxus cuspidata Sieb. Et Zucc.), the Manchurian nut (Juglans manshurica Maxim.), the laciniate elm (Ulmus laciniata (Trautv.) Mayr), the Manchurian Aralia (Aralia manshurica Rupr. et Maxim.), the maple trees (Acer mono Maxim. Acer ginnala Maxim., and Acer tegmentosum Maxim.), the Amur maackia (Maackia amurensis Rupr. et Maxim.), the tall Echinopanax elatum Nakai and many other species.
    Geobotanically, the Sikhote Alin Sanctuary includes parts of two geobotanic districts (Kolesnikov, 1961) of the Ternei Fareastern Province of pine-broad-leaf and oak forests of the East Asia coniferous-broad-leaf Region and the Sikhote Alin Amur-Sikhote Alin Province of the South Okhotsk dark coniferous subregion. The boundary between these districts in the Sanctuary is essentially of alpine nature, and is traced quite distinctly.
    Here within the bounds of Sikhote Alin Sanctuary, we observe a cluster, as it were, of vegetation singularities of the entire area, such as oak and oak-larchwood forests with interspersions of grassy bogs and secondary meadows in the lower mountain belt, conifer-broad leaf forests in the middle belt; again, high mountain areas are normally characterized by subalpine forests comprising Betula lanata V. Vasil.) and  Pinus pumila Rgl. With sections of subalpine meadows and rock detritus. The vegetation on the seacoast is very unique, including highly low forms of normal tree species, viz. the oak and larchwood, which at the age of 200 are scarcely one meter tall (Picture 1).
     The main factors distinguishing the flora and vegetation within any landscape of Primorye, including that of Sikhote Alin Sanctuary, are essentially its remoteness from the seacoast, exposure and altitude above sea level, nature of rocks, soil, steepness of slopes, and forest fires. Here, in central Sikhote Alin, we encounter both northern and southern species: the Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica Fisch._ and Daurian larchwood (Larix dahutica Turcz.) form mixed stands in the lower belt, and Linnaea borealis L. and Chamaepericlymenum canadense (L.) Graebn.) grow in the same community with Aralia manshurica Rupr. et Maxim. And Rhododendron faurei French in the conifer-broad-leaf forest belt. Growing within the same communities, species from different floristic complexes interact with to mutually influence one another. Regularities of this mutual influence have obviously been insufficiently studied, even though they occasionally play a decisive role with regard to  how rapidly the forest would regenerate after felling or fire, and also in what species would prevail after those events.
     In 1909-1913, P. M. Pravdin a forestry expert, obtained initial information about the vegetation of the future Sanctuary. When Sikhote Alin was being organized, B. P. Kolesnikov, a well known forestry expert, and Yu. A. Liverovsky, a soil expert, worked here. In 1973-1976, R. G. Gracheva was involved in mapping the soil surface of the area. Again, in 1977, comprehensive biogeocenologic investigations were launched in pine-broad-leaf forests with participation of A. P. Utenkova, a soil scientist. Later, these studies changed to biologic rotation research involving basic local forest ecosystems, and today they are being continued under M. N. Gromyko. Over the past thirty years, Z. M. Azbukina, L.N. Vassilieva, I. A. Bukina and E. S. Nelen studied higher and lower mushrooms in the area. Today, A. V. Bogacheva is successfully continuing this research within the same project. I. A. Fliagina has performed extensive studies of Sikhote Alin  forest vegetation. N. S. Shemetova and Yu performed valuable geobotanic and floristic studies in the 1960s here. A. Doronina. At present, geobotanist E.A. Smirnova, is involved in successful research here. In 1997, researchers of the Laboratory of Geobotany, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, who authored this material, began active studies of the vegetation cover of Sikhote Alin in 1997.

Methodological Premises

    By monitoring the diversity of the vegetative cover (flora and vegetation) of Sikhote Alin, one of the oldest sanctuaries in Russia, we noted 183 algae species, 384 macromycete mushroom species, 100 rust fungi species, 214 lichen species, and 100 100 Musci species. According to N. S. Shemetova and E.A. Smirnova, The flora of vascular plants (Angiospermae, Gymnospermae, Pteridophytes, Equisetae and Lycopodiae) numbers over 1,000 species, registered by botanists and confirmed by herbarium collections, but that is not all.
    One can safely say that at least 200-250 additional higher vascular plant species have not been revealed here. Even such a highly decorative shrub as rhododendron Fauri was discovered in Sikhote Alin only in the early sixties, not to mention the unattractive and less noticeable sedges and Gramineae. Incidentally, geologists working in the central part of Sikhote Alin Ridge first discovered the rhododendron Fauri. They were telling stories of a Ficus allegedly growing under a spruce forest canopy on the eastern slope of Mt. Glukhomanka. But botanists flatly refused to believe them, even though in summer the rhododendron Fauri actually does resemble the Ficus (Picture 2). In 1998, we discovered in an oak forest belt a peculiar race of Jeffersonia dubia Benth. Et Hook with white flowers and nonlobulate leaves (Picture 10). Now, a normal Jeffersonia has bilobate leaves.
    One can imagine what an enormous number of combinations for 40-70 species could be obtained from local flora that has over 1,000 species. Indeed, from 40 to 70 species of higher vascular plants are encountered on the average in one specific plant community (over 0.25 ha). Yet, far from all of the statistically possible combinations of species are achieved in reality in the vegetation surface, given that there are very many ecologically and cenotically forbidden combinations of species that are impossible due to total dissimilarity of ecological and cenotic requirements of those species. In the landscape, combinations of form plant communities ecologically and cenotically permitted species, the so-called plant associations. They are the ones that precisely determine the eco-cenotic diversity of the vegetative surface of a given landscape. Hence, the biologic diversity of the vegetative surface of a given area involves not only diversity of species, genera, families and other plant taxa that form the given vegetative surface, but also the diversity of the eco-cenotic combinations of plant association species permitted in the given area.
    Geological, soil, and geobotanical maps have been made for the territory of  Sikhote Alin, and also a map for the local mammal population. All these provide a very sound foundation for detailed monitoring of the biodiversity of the local  vegetative cover.
    So why and what for the need to monitor the diversity of the Sanctuarys vegetative cover? Why the needs to monitor its biodiversity, and how can it profit mankind? These are the basic questions of contemporary ecology. In recent decades, Man has had a strong impact on Nature both globally and regionally. Today, numerous plant and animal species are threatened by disappearance and, hence, their numerous communities as well. If this becomes reality, it would certainly affect the Earths biosphere. Eradication of forests, for instance, is fraught with reduced photosynthesis to sharply retard regeneration of oxygen in the atmosphere, promote soil erosion and reduce soil productivity for future centuries and even milleniums. Vegetation cover supplies mankind with normal air, water. food,  industrial  raw materials, fuel and building materials, medicines  and many other items. By destroying it, we destroy ourselves, turning our Home, the biosphere, into a putrid poisonous sewer, and mutilating our heredity turning our grandchildren into freaks and monsters at best, and simply killing them at worst.
    Many people have already said many things about that, but we still need exact scientific evidence that irreversible changes degrading the biosphere have already begun and are continuing. We are interested in the degradation rate and in the indicators of reversible and irreversible changes in plant communities and ecosystems. Picture 12 shows trees along a highway near Arseniev, Primorye, strongly affected by the parasite plant mistletoe [Viscum coloratum (Kom.) Nakai], clearly the result of atmosphere pollution in the vicinity of the airport. In the Sanctuary, the mistletoe is a highly rare occurrence. Its population can serve as an indicator of air pollution impact on plant communities and ecosystems.
    So far, we cannot always distinguish irreversible changes in the biosphere from the general stream of cyclic changes (seasonal, and those lasting eleven years and more) associated with cyclic fluctuations of the climate, oscillations of the Earths axis, processes, to which plants, animals and their communities have adapted fairly well in the course of lengthy evolution. In the course of research, we must reveal the plant species and communities that could serve as a pulse in monitoring the patients condition. In this case, the patient is the vegetative cover of Primorye, affected by numerous fires, ruthlessly hacked over the past fifty years and still ruthlessly hacked today. Candidates for this role of ecological pulse in our case could be populations of rare, particularly relict plant species, e.g. the cuspidate yew, the rhododendron Faurie, and others.
    Apart from protecting the biota gene pool in a given area, biosphere sanctuaries are designed to perform lengthy ecological monitoring. Their network represents the entire basic diversity of the planets biosphere, each sanctuary serving as natures gage in its own region, allowing to assess the condition of the flora and fauna, of the plant and animal population in a given biosphere to assess their  health and ability to regenerate after natural and man-made stresses.
    Unfortunately, a single scientific program for monitoring biodiversity in the worlds biosphere sanctuaries is still pending. The international scientific community is trying hard to develop, substantiate and verify it in various natural zones. But time is running out, and irreversible changes in biologic diversity are gathering such pace
that in many regions of the globe they have already turned into ecological disasters.
    The Laboratory of Geobotany, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F.E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, together with the Sikhote Alin Sanctuary and supported by the Global Ecological Fund, are conducting such research within the framework of the project Monitoring the Biological and Ecocenotic Diversity of the Plant Kingdom of Sikhote Alin Sanctuary and Adjacent Unprotected Land and Water Areas in the hope to coordinate their work with similar investigations in other world sanctuaries and national parks.

Field Investigation Methods

     Our investigations are directed not only at elaborating a methodology and perfecting methods of monitoring the biodiversity of the vegetation cover, but also assume the establishment of a representative system of regular test areas along the high-level contour crossing the western and eastern macroslopes of Sikhote Alin to reveal all the major types of plant communities (associations) characterizing the region. A total of fifty permanent test areas (TA) have been planned for subsequent description and redescription in the Sanctuary. Some of them are shown in the pictures (Photos 1, 3,5,7, 8, 9).
    The system includes twenty TAs, established in different years (starting from 1953) and redescribed time and again by geobotanists and forest experts (the oldest test areas even seven times). L. A. Fliagina, Yu. I. Manko and V. A. Rosenberg have substantially contributed to distinguishing and describing the existing tree stock. They repetedly performed stand counts, revealed the existing specific diversity, and mapped certain microgroupings of the surface cover and regrowth. Unfortunately, not all initial materials of said descriptions and redescriptions have been preserved in the Sanctuary archive. However, some things can be restored from reports and scientific publications.
    We have added another thirty TAs to the already existing ones. Thus, there are a total of fifty TAs now on the combined 100 km-long profile crossing the Sanctuary from east to west, distributed over the altitudinal belts in the following manner: broad-leaf forests15 TAs; coniferbroad-leaf forests25 TAs; and subalpine belt10 TAs. In addition to TAs, in analyzing the state and dynamics of biodiversity of the plant cover in the past and present, one-time geobotanical descriptions and all information available from publications and archive materials will be used.
    All forest TAs have standard areas of 50x50 m, and grass and shrub TAs are 10x20 m large. They are marked in the corners by posts and are distinctly tied to the surrounding terrain. Each TA is divided into 10 x 10-m squares for shrub and grass vegetation. In describing the TAs, all plant species were registered differently for respective squares; for grasses, shrubs and lianas, the naked eye was used to assess their number by a 5-point scale, and trees were numbered and entered in the TA plan. The trunk circumference of each tree is measured at 1.3 m high, and the results recorded in a special statement.
    Thus, within each TA, we make 25 geobotanical descriptions of adjacent 10x10 m areas for forest vegetation and 2 geobotanic descriptions of adjacent 10 x 10-m test areas for shrub and grass vegetation. In mapping tree stands, regeneration and horizontal heterogeneity of the shrub and grass-shrub tiers, each 10x10 m square is divided into four additional provisional 5x5 m squares using makeshift stakes. Within the entire test area, trees (including stands) with trunk diameter exceeding 5 cm were all numbered. Each trunk was entered into the area map, and its species was indicated in said special statement. To specify the species of plants, a herbarium of all species for each TA is collected.  In addition to higher vascular plants, the herbarium also includes all lichen and moss-like species from each TA. Thus, taxonomists can verify all our determinations, and reverification of these specimen species is made possible. The herbarium is stored in the Laboratory of Geobotany, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Methods for Statistic Processing of Original Data

   All original data are formalized in the form of matrices (tables) in PC Excel program to represent an original scientific database. A species distribution matrix for twenty-five 10x10-m squares is composed to indicate the abundance of each species in the squares by a five-point scale, and also the average abundance on TA, calculated as the mean-arithmetical value from 25 measurements. A matrix of binary relations of the floristic similarity-dissimilarity of all the 25 squares is calculated for each TA. In said matrix, each of the 25 squares allows to judge the extent of TA homogeneity.
    Besides, a tree-stand matrix (list) is composed for each TA, every tree being assigned a definite number, and in separate columns corresponding to redescription years, the tree circumference length is shown at 1.3 m high. In the same matrix, the tree species and life are recorded in special columns, using a three-scale system. The matrix and count list together with the tree distribution map over the TA, allow to trace in the course of monitoring the increase in thickness of each tree, every thickness step of each species. The results of monitoring are formalized in the form of growth curves, and also in the form of the distribution frequency of trees of different species recorded over the TA, depending on their respective thickness. A comparison of such curves for different description years could also become the object of quite precise monitoring.
    The third matrix for each TA is the table showing the distribution of renewal and growth of various species across 25 squares. In said matrix, the power of regeneration in accord with a three-point scale is shown for each species and square. The average regeneration intensity of each species over a given TA, and the TA homogeneity in respect to nature and regeneration distribution, is calculated by processing said data.
    After processing the matrices that characterize specific TAs, the principal matrix is composed to show the specific distribution of plants over fifty TAs, in which
the average abundance for each TA is indicated for each species. A series of square matrices of binary relations of TA floristic similarity-dissimilarity are calculated on the basis of that matrix with regard to (a) similarity of trees, lianas and tree-like shrubs, (b) similarity of grassy plant, low shrubs and small thickets, (c) similarity of moss-like plants, (d) similarity of lichens, and (e) similarity of species of all life forms.
    All matrixes are organized in columns; mathematical constructions consisting of peaks) TA descriptions) and ribs (relations of floristic similarity-dissimilarity between TA pairs) are models of floristic structure of vegetation cover. These columns reflect the floristic structure and diversity of the vegetation cover at the moment the TA system is being redescribed. As the TA system is redescribed, analogous columns obtained over quite a long period of time could be compared to obtain trends in changes of corresponding structural aspects over a given time period.
    Our laboratory has a unique GRAF program compiled by A.A. Galanin to allow performing all calculations of floristic similarity of TA pairs using a personal computer. This program is based on a method developed by A. V. Galanin and A. V. Belikovich, envisaging calculation of floristic similarity of TA pairs with account for landscape-ecological informativeness of species (Galanin, 1982) calculated as a negative logarithm of occurrence frequency of said species in a system of 50 TAs. Previously we verified this method on vast material from various regions of Russia, including in simulating the landscape-ecological structure of the vegetation cover of Sokhondinsk Biosphere Sanctuary (Galanin, Belikovich, 1989).

Rhododendron fauriei

      The fact that rhodendron Faurie (Picture 2,3).  grows over three areas is a singular feature of the geobotanical profile in the cordon Kabanii region. Rhododendron fauriei French is a rare plant registered in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. It is related to the West Chinese species Rh. Beesianum Diels, Rh. Aberrans Tagg et Forrest and Rh. Traillianum Forrest.
et W.W. Sm. and found in Korea (Nakai, 1952) and Japan; in Russia, apart from Sikhote Alin, it is noted only in the Kurile islands of Iturup and Kunashir (Voroshilov, 1966, 1968). In Sikhote Alin Sanctuary, it was discovered recently, in 1968  (Shemetova, 1970) in the very highest reaches of Serebrianka and Dzhigitovka Rivers on the slopes of Dalnii Ridge (Fliagina, Smirnova, 1972), and also on the western slopes of Sikhote Alin near the upper reaches of Serebrianka River.
    Rh. Fauriei is located in the taiga zone at a considerable distance from the principal range, and should therefore be obviously regarded as a relict plant. The local population of this evergreen shrub deserves highly close attention not only of taxonomists, but ecologists as well. As an ecological pulse it should be highly sensitive to changes in the micro-, meso-, and microclimates of its habitat sites, and depending on its state one can readily establish the nature of ecological changes in the middle part of Sikhote Alin.
    Among the rhododendrons of the Russian Far East, Rhodendron fauriei is the only species, whose individuals in relatively favorable conditions grow into small trees with trunk diameters up to 15 cm. The state of individual plants in growth sites is good. Maximum shrub height over TA F-3 is 4-5 m, and over TA F-2 2.5-3 m. The diameter of the largest trunks on TA F-2 attains 6-8 cm, and on TA F-2 15 cm. Large (up to 15 cm long) leathery leaves with brilliant tops are concentrated on branch ends. Last year leaves fall at the end of September, and this years leaves winter, curling in tubes and hanging along the stems. In spring, the leaves unfurl to begin early photoshythesis. Thus, during summer first- and second-year leaves function. Rhododendron fauriei blossoms abundantly in June, but bears little fruit.
    In Sikhote Alin (on the territory of the sanctuary alone), today we know of several dozen Rhododendron fauriei cenopopulations that grow at an altitude of 650-800 m above sea level over steep (35-40 degrees) slopes of the southeastern, eastern and northern exposition under a canopy of spruce-fir plantations. These habitats are characterized by thicker snow cover in sinter, and by relatively oppressed state of spruces and firs. It appears that local vegetation is in constant state of nonequilibrium, when the climax stage is simply not attained. The causes of this nonequilibrium are not quite understood; quite possibly, Rhododendron Fauriei possesses cenotic properties that suppress the development of coniferous species. Perhaps it penetrated into central Sikhote Alin when climatic conditions there were considerably milder and more favorable for settlement of subtropical plants. Its growth in taiga-type coniferous forests is indicative of former connections of dark-conifer taiga with Poltava flora of subtropical forests (Tolmachev, 1957).  We believe that the study of the biology, ecology and phytocenology of Rhododendron Fauriei is essential to obtain additional information on the history of the establishment and development of the floristic complex of the dark-conifer taiga of East Asia. There is also need to develop measures for its conservation in natural growth sites, multiplication and cultivation in botanical gardens and arboretums.

Photo 1.  Blagodatnaya Inlet. On a seaside pebble-sand embankment, among halophilic maritime vegetation, we encounter dwarf larchwood trees, which at the age of 200 years do not even grow to as much as 0.5 meters tall. A. Belikovich alongside such larchwood.

Photo 2. Rhododendron Fauriei does indeed resemble the fig. Geologists who first discovered this subtropical plant under the canopy of a spruce forest thought of this very Ficus.

Photo 3. This is what Rhododendron Fauriei looks like in winter. Green leaves are curled into tubes and hang along upright branches with large buds visible on their ends.

Photo 4. The seacoast in the vicinity of Cape Severnyi. Picturesque cliffs are reminiscent of quite intense geomorphologic processes at the abutment of sea and land. A. Galanin serves as a scale for the cliffs.

Photo 5. Central Sikhote Alin from one of its peaks, where one of the constant test areas is located to represent a larchwood-rhododendron subalpine elfin woodland over rock detritus. A. Galanin serves as mountain scale.

Photo 6. At the service of researchers, there are many such huts, well equipped for temporary dwelling. To reach this hut, you have to walk for five hours alongside a path running past a stream. A. Belikovich

Photo 7. Geobotanists A. Belikovich and N. Vasilenko lay a permanent test area in oak-larchwood rhododendron forest.

Photo 8. E. Smirnova, Sanctuary staff member, and A. Belikovich and N. Vasilenko, researchers of Laboratory of Geobotany, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, on permanent test area laid in 1977, over which oak trees are being replaced with larchwood and Korean cedar. Early May 1998.

Photo 9. Rock detritus in lower part of mountain slopes, traces of past forest fires that caused complete soil erosion. Over such sites, the forest community would restore several hundred years, and only in case a source of seeds and spores is preserved in the neighborhood. One of the permanent test areas is also laid here. Early May 1998.

Photo 10. Under an oak forest canopy in the vicinity of Inlet Blagodatnaya, we came across a Jeffersonia population of unusual appearance, with white flowers (normally, the flowers are blue) and with leaves without pronounced blades. This find shows that the Sanctuary flora still conceals something unknown. Early May 1998.

Photo 11. In September, conifer-broad-leaf forests of central Sikhote Alin are painted in weird colors. Late September 1997.

Photo 12. The parasite plant mistletoe settles in the crowns of larchwood trees. Such mass growth of the parasite shows that ecological equilibrium here is sharply disturbed, the trees are weakened and cannot resist the parasite. No, this not the Sanctuary; these are the suburbs of one of the towns of Maritime Province not far from an airfield and large industrial plant. Late April 1998.

    Professor Alexander GALANIN, Doctor of  Science (Biology), Head of Laboratory of Geobotany,Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F.E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences,  specialist in geobotany, plant geography and statistic research methods in geobotany, author of 120 scientific papers, including 4 monographs (Photos 4 and 5).

   Anna BELIKOVICH, Candidate of Science (Biology), Senior Research Fellow, Laboratory of Geobotany, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F.E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, specialist in geobotany, landscape science and general ecology, author of fifty scientific papers, including 2 monographs (Photos 6, 7 and 8).

   Natalia VASILENKO, Junior Research Fellow, Laboratory of Geobotany, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F.E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, specialist in geobotany, author of 3 scientific papers (Photos 7 and 8).

   Irina GALANINA, Junior Research Fellow, Herbarium Laboratory, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F.E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, participant in Project, specialist in lichenology, author of 4 scientific papers.

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