David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.
Climates of Central Asia & Russia
Central Asia and Russia contain six countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The area contains around 211 million people in total as of 2014, but it is also home to billions of plants and animals. Today, we're going to talk about some of the most important ones.
When it comes to plants and animals, climate is pretty important. Unlike humans, animals don't say to themselves, 'You know what? It seems a bit chilly around here. We should wear the skin of that animal over there.' They can't adapt in the way humans can. So their biggest defense is to move to a new area. The animals and plants you find in an area, particularly plants that aren't exactly mobile, are different depending on the climate type you're looking at.
Asia has a total of 10 main climate types (25 if you include every subtype). If we focus on the subject of today's lesson - Central Asia and Russia - we simplify the picture to five climates: semiarid, desert, humid continental, subarctic, and tundra. You might notice how varied these are, from dry deserts in the south to wet areas in the middle to snowy polar places in the far north. It's like a climate sandwich and each has its own plants and animals.
Plants and Animals of the North
The north of Russia is much like the south in one important way: it's super dry. But in this case, it's a cold, arctic kind of dry. In the tundra areas, there is little to no plant cover at all and only lichens, moss, and occasional shrubs are present in much of this area. The sea is king in this part of Russia, and so what animals you do find tend to rely on it in one way or another. For example, you get a lot of seals, walruses, and sea birds.
As you head farther south, you start to find a little more. Where there are forests, they're mostly birches and willows that have grown to dwarf heights due to the dry conditions and thin soil. But animals become more common including reindeer, hares, arctic foxes, and birds, like ptarmigans.
Farther south into the subarctic areas, forests start to boom big time. The vast Taiga Forest covers half of Russia and contains birches and spruce first, followed by pine, fir, cedar, and deciduous trees as you continue south. Having more forest means that more animals can be supported, from moose to bears to squirrels, lynx, and a ton of birds. And in the southern deciduous forests, you find wild boar, marten, and many types of deer.
Plants and Animals in the Middle
The middle of the region is characterized by the humid subtropical climate. This includes southern and western Russia, and parts of Kazakhstan. Here, the north trees give way for oak, aspen, and birch, and more animals and birds. Eagles, skylarks, and cranes can even be found in these areas. There are most likely more animals of every type in this area, including insects, but we don't have good information on exactly which smaller animals are present where.
Plants and Animals of the South
Central Asia is made up of the countries often described as the '-stans,' though Afghanistan is usually not considered to be included. These countries are collectively very dry, though the north of Kazakhstan does have some humid continental climates. The result of all this is that the area contains a mix of plains and deserts, with very little wooded areas. Kazakhstan might be described as grass, grass, and more grass; grasslands as far as the eye can see. But you can also find tulips, thistles, sage, and poppies.
These grassy plains contain lots of animals including elk and antelope, with bears, wolves, and the rarely seen snow leopard in the hills and mountains. There are also Saiga camels, horses, sand grouse, marmot, and bustards. The Caspian Sea, which borders on most of the countries, is home to sturgeon and herring among many other fish.
The pure desert areas farther south contain many of the same species but also tortoises, goats, porcupines, and donkeys. In the oases and mountain valleys, conditions are moderate enough that you even find grapes, almonds, and figs.
Central Asia and Russia contains six countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Central Asia and Russia contains five main climates: semiarid, desert, humid continental, subarctic, and tundra. It's like a climate sandwich, each with its own plants and animals.
In the north of Russia, it's very dry and cold. In the tundra areas, there's little to no plant cover at all, and only lichens, moss, and occasional shrubs. What animals you find tend to rely on the sea, like seals, walruses, and sea birds. Farther south, you find dwarf birches, willows, reindeer, hares, and arctic foxes.
In the subarctic areas, you find birches, spruce, pine, fir, cedar, deciduous trees, moose, bears, squirrels, lynx, wild boar, marten, and deer.
The middle of the region is characterized by the humid continental climate. This includes southern and western Russia, and parts of Kazakhstan. This is home to oak trees, aspen, birch, eagles, skylarks, and cranes.
Central Asia is super dry, though the north of Kazakhstan does have some humid continental climate. Central Asia contains plains and deserts, with few trees. Kazakhstan is mostly grassland. Plants and animals living here include elk, antelope, bears, snow leopards, Saiga camels, horses, sand grouse, marmot, and bustards.
The Caspian Sea, which borders on most of the countries, is home to sturgeon and herring among many other fish. The pure desert areas farther south contain many of the same species, but also tortoises, goats, porcupines, and donkeys. In the oases and mountain valleys, there are even grapes, almonds, and figs.
Lesson at a Glance
The climates of Russia and Central Asia are as diverse as the plants and animals that live within each of these climates. Ranging from dry deserts in the south to wet areas in the middle to snowy polar places in the far north, these plants and animals have adapted to these varying climates to ensure their survival and growth.
As soon as you complete the lesson, you could know enough to:
- Identify the five main climates of Russia and Central Asia
- List the different flora and fauna that inhabit each region
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