Larch Forest of the Kronotskoye Lake Basin

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The larch forest of the Kronotskoye Lake basin is of special interest as model of pristine nature. Nowhere is Eastern Kamchatka richer in species diversity than in this forest. Flora of the coniferous taiga, Erman’s birch forest, sparse stands of white birch, mountain pine, dwarf alder, and meadow poplar forests all come together here in an area of several thousand hectares.The spatial pattern of the larch forests is complex and unique.

Larch stands in the Kronotskoye Lake basin are compact and found primarily in the watersheds of the Listvennichnaya, Severnaya, and Uhnana rivers. These low and medium density tree-stands cover an area of about 4,000 ha. About 2,800 ha are sparse forests. Except for a very small area of very sparse larch stands in the upper reaches of the Storozh River, these are the only larch forests in Eastern Kamchatka. Here, they are a natural continuation of the coniferous taiga of the Central Kamchatka Lowlands. Most of the larches on the Lisvennichnaya River, unlike the larch stand on the Storozh River, are found as individual trees or in small stands together with Jezo spruce. A spore and pollen analysis showed that the spruce-larch taiga has existed here for the past 2,000 years. It has also been determined that this taiga forest is in a late stage of succession, and continued research allows us to track the forest stand dynamics and predict future changes.

Creeping lady’s tresses and northern redcurrant are found only in the Listvennichnaya River basin, along with a small population of the Kamchatka mountain ash. Outside this basin, Siberian mountain ash is known to be found only in the midstream of the Kronotskaya River.

Fauna commonly found in taiga ecosystems predominates in this forest. The Siberian large-toothed shrew is found only in the Kronotskoye Lake basin near the Listvennichnaya River and the headwaters of the Kronotskaya River. Squirrels are abundant in the Listvennichnaya River area, along with the largest density of moose in the reserve. The only nesting site of the Bohemian waxwing has been registered here; the largest and the most stable concentration of Grosbeak and coal tit are found here; and boreal owl and Northern hawk-owl, among others, are found here more often than other forests.