Kazakh semi-desert

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The Kazakh semi-desert is an ecoregion in the Deserts and xeric shrublands Biome, located in Kazakhstan.


The Kazakh semi-desert is an ecotone between the Kazakh steppe to the north and the Central Asian northern desert to the south, running in a band across central Kazakhstan. The climate here is semi-arid and highly continental. Precipitation averages between 160 millimetres (6.3 in) and 240 millimetres (9.4 in) annually. Mean temperatures in January range from −13 °C (9 °F) and −16 °C (3 °F), while July means are between 21 °C (70 °F) and 24 °C (75 °F). Annual average temperatures are around 10 °C (50 °F). The region's topography consists of vast, flat plains and salt flats broken by dissected plateaus (known locally as "melkosopochniki").


As a transition between steppes and deserts of Central Asia, this ecoregion supports flora found in both biomes. Grasses, more dominant in the north, include various Stipa species (S. lessingiana, S. sareptana, S. kirghisorum and the endemic S. richterana) and tipchak (Festuca valesiaca). To the south, shrubs come to dominate, mainly Artemisia species (A. lerchena and A. lessingiana, A. gracilescens, A. sublessingiana, A. terrae albae semiarida and A. sublessingiana). Vegetation on the saline plains consists of Artemisia pauciflora, A. schrenkiana, A. nitrosa, Atriplex cana, Anabasis salsa, and Camphorosma monspeliaca.


Mammals in the ecoregion include the critically endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica), Karaganda argali (Ovis ammon collium), goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutterosa), Pallas's Cat (Otocolobus manul), gray wolf (Canis lupus), European Badger (Meles meles) and marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna). Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) is native to the ecoregion, but has not been seen in it since 1968.

Avian species include the Common Crane (Grus grus), Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo), red-headed bunting (Emberiza bruniceps), larks (Alaudidae), wheatears (Oenanthe), pipits (Anthus spp.), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis), Pallas’s Sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus), Steppe Eagle (Aquila rapax), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug).

Conservation status and threats[edit]

Agriculture, overgrazing, and fragmentation of habitat from human encroachment are the main threats to this ecoregion's integrity, and its conservation status is listed as "Critical/Endangered". However, recent and dramatic reductions in the number of livestock in Kazakhstan have resulted in large areas having a greater chance for rehabilitation. No areas in this ecoregion are strictly protected, and some refuges do not adequately preserve local ecosystems.


Afghan Mountains semi-desert Afghanistan
Alashan Plateau semi-desert China, Mongolia
Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Atlantic coastal desert Mauritania, Western Sahara
Azerbaijan shrub desert and steppe Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran
Badkhiz-Karabil semi-desert Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Baluchistan xeric woodlands Afghanistan, Pakistan
Caspian lowland desert Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan
Central Afghan Mountains xeric woodlands Afghanistan
Central Asian northern desert Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
Central Asian riparian woodlands Kazakhstan
Central Asian southern desert Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Central Persian desert basins Afghanistan, Iran
Eastern Gobi desert steppe China, Mongolia
Gobi Lakes Valley desert steppe Mongolia
Great Lakes Basin desert steppe Mongolia, Russia
Junggar Basin semi-desert China, Mongolia
Kazakh semi-desert Kazakhstan
Kopet Dag semi-desert Iran, Turkmenistan
Mesopotamian shrub desert Iraq, Jordan, Syria
North Saharan steppe and woodlands Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara
Paropamisus xeric woodlands Afghanistan
Persian Gulf desert and semi-desert Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Qaidam Basin semi-desert China
Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert and semi-desert Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Rigestan-North Pakistan sandy desert Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan
Sahara desert Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan
South Iran Nubo-Sindian desert and semi-desert Iran, Iraq, Pakistan
South Saharan steppe and woodlands Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan
Taklimakan desert China
Tibesti-Jebel Uweinat montane xeric woodlands Chad, Egypt, Libya, Sudan
West Saharan montane xeric woodlands Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Niger