Results of work package I
CADI Fellows 2018/19
Herpetologist graduated at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University
Professional activities: Senior researcher at the Research Institute of Zoology at Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science
Scholarship project: to study the biodiversity of deserts Herpetofauna and the population of endangered species of South Kazakhstan to develop measures for their protection. Besides, she will improve her skills in the field of molecular genetic analysis and develop proposals for reptile protection in southern Kazakhstan using German experience.
Master of Science in Rangeland Management at the Gorgan University of Agricultural Science and Natural Recourses (Iran).
Professional activities: research assistant at Iran Mega Project on the Integrated Watershed Management.
Scholarship project: to analyze ecosystem services by various climatic conditions in the Iran-Turan region.
Ph.D. in Biology at Irkutsk State University (Russia)
Professional activities: Researcher in the laboratory of Entomology at the Institute of General and Experimental Biology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences
Scholarship project: to analyze the link between herbivorous beetles and Saxaul, a tree distributed in the Gobi Desert. She will also examine whether these beetles can be used as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem in the Saxaul forest.
Interview with Bayartungalag Batsaikhan, CADI fellow 2017/18 from Mongolia
Dear Bayartungalag, please tell us briefly where did you hear about CADI Fellowship and why did you decide to apply for the program?
In 2017, I received my PhD in Environmental Geochemistry at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Korea University in Seoul (South Korea). After completion of my research for the PhD I was interested in further studies. Currently, I am working as full-time researcher at the Faculty of Geology and Mining Engineering at Mongolian University of Science and Technology. I realized that I need additional support and looked for research funds and fellowships for young scientists. Finally, I decided to apply for CADI Fellowship. The one year program provides the support that is needed by young researchers – a monthly grant, travel allowances, support for field work and laboratory equipment.
What is your research topic about?
My research topic is about carbon stock assessment of Haloxylon (Saxaul) vegetation in temperate deserts of Mongolia using remote sensing and field measurements. Most areas of Gobi Desert are naturally covered by sparse shrub vegetation dominated by Haloxylon ammodendron. During Mongolia’s transition to a free market economy, socio-economic factors such as poverty and profit-seeking mining exploitation of the environment have contributed to its deterioration. Consequently, a loss of biodiversity, land degradation and vulnerability together with additional impacts of climate change are critically affecting the deserts and their vegetation. The vegetation is most important for climate conditions and the nomadic people living in the area. Currently, there is a lack of modelling assessment for monitoring and management. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a modelling approach applying GIS and remote sensing. Against this background, I will elaborate a new modelling methodology which focuses on estimating carbon stock of biomass in vegetation of desert regions. The results will be verified by field data.
How may your research contribute to CADI and the conservation of the Mongolian or Central Asian temperate deserts?
My research will allow stakeholders in Mongolia to better assess ecological impacts of activities such as pasture and mining. Environmental scientists in Mongolia will better understand the importance of the study of carbon stock of above and below ground biomass in the vegetation of temperate deserts of Mongolia. My research work will also contribute to a closer cooperation between the CADI project and Mongolia.
Within the program, you recently spent your research stay in Greifswald. What was the goal of your stay and how would you assess your results?
I have been in Greifswald for two months. It was a really good opportunity for me to improve my knowledge and enhance the outcomes of my research activities. One of my major goals was to modify my research methods by studying different literature on carbon assessment using remote sensing data and field measurements. After arriving in Greifswald I made a presentation about my research objectives and work plan. This paved the ground for further discussions with colleagues of CADI project, Michael Succow Foundation and University of Greifswald. During my stay, I could establish excellent contact to my supervisor from the University of Greifswald. He provided me with good advice for my research, the data analysis and planning of my field work. At the end of my stay, I presented my studies within a short colloquium with my supervisor and CADI colleagues. I very much benefited from my stay in Greifswald. Thanks a lot to my supervisor and all colleagues in Greifswald for helping and supporting me.
How can you describe the overall time spent in Greifswald?
In Greifswald I found myself in an inspiring, challenging and international environment. I have learnt much about other cultures, people and last not least about myself. The time helped me to identify my real interests and academic ambitions. I joined many activities during the program – there has been a big variety of offers, including participation in other research works, group discussions, research presentations and mentoring. Additionally to my core research, visits to protected areas in the region or celebrating Christmas in Germany have been a great enrichment. It was definitely an amazing experience that has broadened my mind and improved myself in an international environment.
Where did you experience the biggest difference between Mongolia and Germany?
In my opinion, one of the biggest differences between Mongolia and Germany is the way junior scientists get supported. In Germany, non-governmental organizations like the Michael Succow Foundation and projects like CADI contribute to international research exchange and environmental cooperation, involving young scientists. In Mongolia, most of the research was focused on Russia, scientific publications were mostly in Russian. During its economic and political transition since 1990, Mongolia suffered under serious economic problems. After the collapse of the Communism, only little attention has been paid to academic and scientific work in Mongolia. Only recently academic research and exchange open itself to other countries.
How are you going to use your research results and experience gained during the fellowship in the future?
The results of my research will be published in a peer-reviewed international journal. I will also share the results with the Mongolian Geospatial Association, a local NGO. Its main purpose is raising awareness, knowledge sharing and professional networking for environmental experts, students and specialists.
What was the most exciting experience during your work within the project?
I have spent an unforgettable time in Greifswald in an international and inspiring environment.
Which recommendations would you give to young researchers applying for the next CADI fellowship?
CADI Fellowship is a really good program. In terms of organisation, scientific supervision and provided funds it fully covers the needs of young researchers, especially from Central Asia.
CADI Fellowship: expedition findings I
The fauna of Kyzylkum is unique and distinctive. Each day spent in this mysterious desert brings new encounterings and discoveries. On April 19, 2018, during the field research within the CADI fellowship in the southern part of the Butte Mountains of Kuldzhuktau Ridge, the team of researchers discovered a sand cat (Felis Margarita)! Close to the borrow was set a camera trap which traced the cat went into hiding. The installed camera trap provided the team with an opportunity to get unique video series, which shows how the male cat in the period of 15:00 to 19:40 hours remained near the borrow. The cat hid in the borrow to protect itself from the strong wind, wandered, looked around and left the place at the night (video clip with sand cat, courtesy to video: Valentin Soldatov).
In Central Asia, this unique African cat came from the Arabian Peninsula through Iran. The main habitats of the sand cat on the territory of the Republic Uzbekistan are distributed in the desert Kyzylkum, much less can be found within the plateau Ustyurt and in the sands of Termez. The basic information on distribution and amount of sand cat was collected mainly during the Soviet time. Further data are less available. In the last 10 years, only several reliable discoverings of the sand cat were done on the territory of Bukhara region. According to J. Burnside (2014), on March 24, 2013, one individual sand cat was identified 15 km easter of Karakyr Lake. On March 31, 2014, around the same area, a burrow with a female sand cat and kittens was discovered. In addition, on April 15, 2013, another adult sand cat was photographed in the southern part of the village of Kalaata. On November 16, 2014, the sand cat was traced by a camera trap set in the North of the village of Kalaata (northern part of the Low mountains of Beltau, which are the western extremity of the Kuldzhuktau Mountains) (Gritsina et al., 2016).
It is obvious that for the present time, sand cat is a rare cat on the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan which demands as well as more research, as protection.
With John Burnside, Soldatov Valentin, Abduraupov Timur and Anna Ten.
Text prepared by Maria Gritsina.
CADI Fellowship: expedition findings II
Within a CADI expedition in Southern Kazakhstan in June 2019, a living specimen of a Berber skink (Eumeces schneideri) was spotted for the first time. Leading researcher at the Research Institute of Zoology and CADI Fellow at the same time, Marina Chirikova and other researchers participated in the expedition.
As early as 2017, herpetologists from the Research Institute of Zoology at Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science, near the Beltau Mountains in Pritashkent Chuly (Southern Kazakhstan) discovered some Berber skink bodies beneath a nest of a Long-Legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus). This discovery became the first recording of this species in Kazakhstan.
Nearer findings of the Berber skink are known from Uzbekistan (on the Nuratau ridge, on northern slopes of the Turkestan ridge and the western foothills of the Chatkal ridge).
CADI Fellowship: Publications
Publication by CADI fellow Chirikova M.A. in co-authorship with Zima Yu.A., Pestov M.V., Terentjev V.A.: About the problem of mass death of reptiles in barrage trenches in South Kazakhstan. In: Selevinia, 2019, Vol. 27, p. 111-114
Publication within the CADI Fellowship by Ten A.G., Soldatov V.A.: The Practice of Identifying a Nesting Biotope for Raptors in the Central Part of the Kyzylkum Desert Using the GIS Technology. In: Predators and their protection, 2019, Vol. 39, p. 34-42
Further results of different activities
Biodiversity expeditions to update baseline data of populations and distribution as well as trends of endemic species
Biodiversity expeditions to South-Ustyurt (2017-2018)
Nurijanov D.A.: Results of herpetological studies in the southern and central parts of the Ustyurt plateau and the Sarykamysh basin (Republic of Uzbekistan) / D.A. Nurijanov, T.V. Abduraupov, M.A. Gritsyna // Vestnik Tyumen State University. Ecology and nature use. 2019. Volume 5.
Preparation of a spatial analysis of conservation potential in cold winter deserts of Central Asia
Preparation of digital herbaria for Central Asian plant species
The absence of a consistent digital database of plants of Central Asia is a serious shortcoming in day to day work of nature conservation organizations, protected area staff, as well as for monitoring, and scientific purposes. There are about 750 species that are adapted to extreme arid and saline environmental conditions and that have been identified to have relevant economic value for mankind.
The Central Asian Desert Initiatives commits to close this scientific gap and to elaborate a sound virtual database accessible for people around the world, be it protected area and forestry staff, people involved in ecological audit and monitoring, scientific organizations, universities, colleges, schools, environmental NGOs, UN bodies, international nature conservation organisations, development agencies, professional and amateur botanists, plant taxonomists or eco tourists.
Therefore, in close coordination with local partners, within CADI project digital herbaria are being implemented for Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Digital herbarium for Kazakhstan: FLORA-KAZAKHSTAN
Digital herbarium for Turkmenistan: FLORA-TURKMENISTAN
Development of target-specific communication strategy and material for integrated, sustainable natural resource management and nature conservation
Info poster on biodiversity in Ustyurt and Pre-Aral region