Ecology (habitat) Flora & Nutrition In The Different Geographical Areas (Part ~ 1 South West Russia)
1. Southern Tuva at the border of Mongolia. Cattle grazing at the border of lake Tore-Khol
2. Tuva, south of Kyzyl, around Erzin, Moren. Tuvan woman beating sheep wool outside her yurt (nomadic tent)
3. Tuva, south of Kyzyl, around Erzin. Dirt track road on the mountains behind Moren
4. Evidence of Siberian shamanism & paganism in the fields around Kyzyl. Sacred Ovaa (shamanic altar) which is made of stones, dry branches & cloth where Tuvans perform religious shaman offerings and sacrifices for the spirits.
5. Tuva around Kyzyl. Statue in the fields, just outside of the capital Kyzyl.
6. Southern Tuva at the Mongolian border. Dirt track and lake Tore - Khol in the background.
7. Tuva, south of Kyzyl, around Erzin, dirt track round around Naryn.
8. South Tuva, south of Kyzyl around Erzin. Tuvan yurt next to lake Tore - Khol on the Mongolian border.
9. Tuva, Kyzyl along the Yenisei river. Stone globe and monument.
10. Taiga Forests. Silver birch along the dirt tracks on the way to the isolated "old believers" village of Erzey.
11. South Siberia, Tuva. Siberian Taiga forest, east of Kyzyl. High trunks of silver birch trees.
Tuva in southwest Russia is a remarkable place, which presents extremely diverse geographical landscapes. Here the Siberian nature comes in to contact with the Inner Asian one, that is, the forest and highland belts meet the steppe zone. There are contrasts of relief, climate, soils vegetation, and of course animal populations. The bottom of the Ubsu-Nur and, partly, the Central Tuvinian Hollows are occupied by dry desert steppes. These steppes include a specific Nanophyton- steppe, which many botanists consider to be a true stony desert. Drier parts comprise areas of free barkhan sands. In the high altitude zones of the mountains, the forest belt occupies most of the areas, except in the South-western Mountains where the steppe passes into the highland tundra's. Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) dominates the forest belt region, along with the Siberian stone pine (Pinus sibirica). In the highland regions there are different kinds of mountain tundra's with the dwarf birch (Betula rotundifolia), Kobresia, Moss and lichens being present. In areas with rivers and brooks there are patches of beautiful alpine meadows. In the lower altitude regions of Tuva there is a great diversity of plant species. The northern slopes being covered with forest while the southern slopes have steppe vegetation. Even on the banks of the steppe rivers you can see this diversity, with strips of riparian forests of Populus laurifolia, Betula microphylla and willows (Salix sp), and also Larch trees are present.
Expeditions and studies around this region had found the Mongolian gerbil had adapted to several different habitats. They seem here to have a very wide choice of forage food and habitats to live in. From the data produced they are also attracted around human settlements, and live close to agricultural areas on arable land. Here when their burrows were excavated, seeds of crop plants such as buckwheat, wheat, millet, oats were found. In fallow land their diets altered accordingly and cereals and plants from Chenopodiaceae, Compositae, Leguminosae and other similar plant families are the food sources that form the staple diet. Food stores here revealed items such as Setaria, Chenopodium species, Caragana, and branches of Artemisia. Mongolian gerbils were also plentiful in the mountainous Artemisia-cereal steppes around this region, and they were also studied living at lower altitudes in the desert steppes and old deposits where the landscape is overgrown with Caragana microphylla shrubs. One study around the far southern area of the region even observed the gerbil inhabiting a flat barren steppe to the south of the large Tannu-Ola mountain range.