Ukrainian Steppe Preserve

Ukrainian Steppe Preserve

 

a preserve established in 1961, combining the Khomutov Steppe, Stone Graves, and Mi-khailovka Virgin Land preserves. The preserve was set aside in order to protect natural steppe regions. As of 1976, the preserve had an area of 1,634 hectares (ha).

The Khomutov Steppe section, which occupies 1,028 ha, is located on the Azov Plain in Novoazovsk Raion, Donetsk Oblast. It is inhabited by the European hare, mole rat, the weasel Putorius eversmanni, the tiger weasel, large jerboa, lesser gray shrike, red-backed shrike, black-headed bunting, steppe viper, and European whip snake, as well as the reintroduced marmot, which had been locally exterminated in the early 20th century.

The Stone Graves section, occupying 404 ha in Volodarskoe Raion (Donetsk Oblast) and Kuibyshev Raion (Zaporozh’e Oblast), consists of two parallel granite ridges, up to 100 m in elevation, which are separated by a steppe valley. The external slope of the eastern ridge has narrow strips of wood-shrub vegetation, including the European aspen, Malus praecox, Ulmus suberosa, pear, hawthorn, spirea, dog rose, and black-berried cotoneaster (Cotoneaster melanocarpa); the species Achillea glaberrima and Centaurea pseudoleucolepis, which are unique to the preserve, grow on the slopes. The northern woodsia is common, although the preserve is separated by several thousand kilometers from the other regions in which the species is encountered (Northern and Central Europe, the Carpathians, the Caucasus, and the Altai).

The Mikhailovka Virgin Land section, covering an area of 202 ha in Lebedin Raion, Sumy Oblast, is a steppe of the forb-grass meadow type. It has such rare plants as Delphinium cuneatum, Dianthus eugeniae, and individual species of the genera Astragalus and Iris.

L. K. SHAPOSHNIKOV

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