Syntaxonomy and biogeography of the Irano-Turanian mires and springs

Prepared by Alireza Naqinezhad, Arkadiusz Nowak, Sebastian Świerszcz, Adel Jalili, Asghar Kamrani, Bryan D. Wheeler, Sue C. Shaw, Farideh Attar, Marcin Nobis, Sylwia Nowak & Michal Hájek

A fen site in the Havir area of the Alborz Mountains, Northern Iran. Photo credit: Alireza Naqinezhad

The vegetation of the dry/semi-dry Irano-Turanian phytogeographical region has been documented in numerous publications, but little is known about mountainous wetlands (mires and springs) in this region. Although their area and diversity are diminished, permanent wetlands of the mountainous region are broadly accepted as important habitats in terms of both vegetation science and biological conservation. They have patchy pattern and scattered distribution and serve as inland hotspots of wetland vegetation in the vast dry landscape of SW and Middle Asia. Documenting the mire vegetation will provide an insight into the response of these sensitive ecosystems to climate warming.

We established a database of 1015 vegetation relevés including a total of 675 vascular and bryophyte taxa. It covers the large mountain ranges of the Irano-Turanian regions in Iran, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with a total area of about 3,000,000 km2 and altitude ranging from 1300 to 4505 m a.s.l. Based on our results and comparison between the Irano-Turanian and other phytogeographical regions, we propose a first comprehensive syntaxonomic scheme for the Irano-Turanian mires and springs. Despite some identical character species and their vicariant nature, the Irano-Turanian, Euro-Siberian, and Mediterranean mires and springs show considerable compositional differences. Ten plant associations, one subassociation and two alliances were formally described as new syntaxa. Moreover, a new order Caricetalia orbicularis, that comprises phytogeographically unique vegetation of the Irano-Turanian mires is proposed.

A mire community (Primulo auriculatae-Caricetum kotschyanae Naqinezhad et al. 2021 ass. nov.) in the Dizin area, Alborz Mountains of northern Iran. Photo credit: Alireza Naqinezhad

This is a plain language summary for the paper of Naqinezhad and colleagues, published in Applied Vegetation Science (