Important successions occur in the vegetations after the changes in the
ecological conditions. The vegetation of the Caspian shores undergoes
important succession due to the natural (increase or decrease in the level
of water, wind, or sand movement) or anthropogenic (herding, sand deportation
for construction, etc.) factors. Especially the changes in the underwater
surfaces causes an increase or decrease in the level of the water. Due
to this change, the shore vegetation may be overloaded with water when
the level of water increases or in the case when the level decreases,
the land surface may increase. These changes may cause important changes
in the floristic or phytosociological changes in the flora. Such changes
may be seen as the growing of new species or formations or the extinction
of existing ones due to the succession. Therefore, it is important to
investigate and document the types of vegetations their formations and
associations in the Caspian shores. In addition, identification of endangered
species and conserving them is posed as important scientific questions.
In general, psammophyte plants are more common on the Caspian shores.
Especially, leafless shrubs and semi-shrubs are characteristics in the
area. The following taxons can be given as such examples: Calligonum
bakuense Litv., ve C. petunnikowii Litv., Ephedra distachya
L., Eleagnus caspica (Sosn) Grossh., Nitraria schoberi L.
and N. komorovii Iljin, Artemisia arenaria DC., Convolvulus
persicus L., Glycyrrhiza glabra L., Astragalus bakuensiz
Bge., Medicago coerulea Less. and M. littoralis Rohde.,
Elymus giganteus Vahl., Phragmites communis (L.) Trin.
In addition to the above taxa, the following groups can also be seen
especially in the areas of hard ground with the high underground water
surface and wavy ground level: Kochia prostrata (L.) Schrad., Salsola
pestifera A.Nels., S. paulsenii Litv., Tournefortia sibirica
L.,Centaurea adpressa Ledeb., Gypsophylla bicolor Freyn.,
Limonium meyeri (Boiss.) Kuntze. Alhagi pseudoalhagi (M.Bieb.)
Desv., Melilotus caspicus Grun., Calamogrostis gigantea
Reshevitz, C. glauca (M.Bieb.) Trin., Erianthus purpurescens
Anderss., Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers., Aeluropus littoralis
(Gouan) Parl., C. melanostachya M.Bieb., Juncus littoralis
C.A.Mey. J. acutus L.
Evaluation of the phytomass (underground and surface) and fodder value
of the plant mass is important both ecologically and economically. Therefore,
we along with, the vegetation associations we also evaluated the fodder
values of plants in the region.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study covered the area from the north of Abseron peninsula (Buzove-Bilgeh)
to Kizilagac Golf in the south (~450 km). Examples have been taken
from 11 different identified points. The characteristics of the formations,
the floristic and phytosociologic features were investigated. The identification
of the plants were performed according to the Flora of Azerbaijan (Karyagin
1950-1961, 8 volumes) and the classification was performed according to
the dominant feature (Rabotnov, 1983; Yaroshenko, 1961). The plant formations
on the shore up to 100-150 m in width was investigated and a vegetation
map of the area was drawn. Considering the effect of the changes in the
level of water and according to our geobotanic data and the literature,
we draw a vegetation map of the Azerbaijans Caspian shore (Haciyev, 1992;
Grossheym, 1948; Sakhsuvarov, 1994; Prilipko and Agacanov, 1972; Prilipko,
1965, 1970; Haciyev et al., 1991). The map was drawn in MS-Word
and the legend was made according to the Vegetation Classification of
the Caspian Shores of Azerbaijan (Table 1). The abundance of the plants
were classified according to a 5 scale system (Yaroshenko, 1961). The
formations and associations in the study area and their underground and
surface phytomasses (g/25 cm2) and the humidity features were
defined (Titlyanova et al., 1988).
Findings: The plant formation of the Azerbaijans Caspian Shores
belong to the sandy-desert type vegetation of the Mid Asian variant, common
in hardened sandy areas. The sandy vegetation of the Caspian Shores of
Azerbaijan belongs to the psamnophyte littoral according to its echological
features and phytosociologically belongs to sandy desert types (Mailov,
1989). These plants can be seen either individually, in groups or mixed.
According to Mailov (1989), sandy areas in Azerbaijan is about 117650
ha. Of this, 24150 ha is mobile sandy bodies located on the Caspian Shores.
These research indicate that the Caspian Shores within Azerbaijan is covered
with a narrow band of sandy-desert vegetation (Grossheym, 1945, 1948;
Beydeman, 1954; Aliyev, 1954, 1966; Glushko, 1989; Mailov, 1989; Haciyev,
1992; Sakhsuvarov, 1994). North part of the research area is Abseron peninsula,
which covers a large part of the western shores. According to Aliyev (Aliyev,
1966) Abseron has 300 ha sandy areas and 30-35% of this is mobile.
In the Northern shores of the Abseron peninsula around (Sakhsuvarov,
1994), there are 298 plant species belonging to 17 formations, 59 associations
and 56 families spread over the wet saline, moving, sandy ground with
sandy-desert, swam, meadow and forest vegetation types.
The results of our vegetation and floristic studies are shown in the
Table 1 and 2, respectively. The Caspian
shores with the width of 100-150 m in the east and south east part of
the Azerbaijans shores, there are 4 vegetations, 9 subtypes, 48 formations
and 57 associations. In Table 2, 114 species belonging to 24 families
and 83 genus that are found in the same region are listed.
The results of the vegetation studies show that the vegetation of the
east and south east has 48 formations and 57 associations, white Samur
Deveci plain of (Sakhsuvarov, 1994) has 17 formations and 59 associations.
These results indicate that the South and North vegetations are similar;
but the northern flora was found to be richer (59 families and 298 taxa).
This is because the study area was limited the shores and was not extended
beyond. One of the taxa found in the wite study region belonged to Pteridophyta
(Equisetum ramosissimum Desf.), one belonged to Gymnosperm (Ephedra
distachya L.) and the other 112 taxa belonged to Angiospermae.
The families with more species in the region are as following: Poaceae
(26 species), Chenopodiacae (24), Asteraceae (13), Cyperaceae (12) and
Fabaceae (5). The taxa belonging to these families were 54% (75) of all.
The number of taxa belonging to the other families was between 1-3. Each
of the following families were represented by 3 species: Plumbaginaceae,
Polygonaceae, Juncaceae and Caryophyllaceae. Each of the following families
were represented by 1 species: Plantaginaceae, Apiaceae, Boroginaceae
2 species, Brassicaceae, Thyphaceae, Tamarixaceae, Convolvulaceae, Solonaceae,
Rubiaceae, Zygophyllaceae, Ephedraceae, Eleagnaceae ve Ranungulaceae.
In the study area 83 genus were defined. In the area, the species represented
with more individuals are as following: Salsola (7 species), Artemisia
(4), Zerna (2), Juncus (2), Carex (2), Medicago
(2), Lepidium (1), Centaurea (1), Aegilops (1), Limonium
(1), Galium (1), Suaeda (1), Chondrilla (1 species).
The total species number in this region was 30, 3% (37 species). One of
the most characteristic species on the shore was Turneforsia sibirica
L. This species was sometimes covering much of the ground. Other than
this, 10-12 seeded plants were present. Of these 3-4 species were permanent.
These are Turneforsia sibirica L., Calamogrostis gigantea
Roshev., Artemisia arenaria DC., Convolvulus persicus L.,
Juncus littoralis C.A. Mey. and J. acutus L. were forming
monodominant associations. Other than these associations about 15-20 psammophyte
species were found.
The floristic composition and the phytosociological structures of the
associations depended on the salinity and the humidity levels of the sandy
soil. In these formations, ephemers were characteristic and formed a special
sinusia. Even though Centaurea arenaria Bieb. was not so
much wide-spread, it formed associations with Astragalus hyrcanus Pall.
and Artemisia arenaria DC.
||The classification of caspian shores vegetation of Azerbaijan
|The vegetation classification was performed according
to the dominant principles (Leningrad ecol)
One of the characteristic formations in this whole Azerbaijans Caspian
shore (850 km) is ephemerism. Some of the characteristic taxa in this
region are Bromus japonicus Thumb., Plantago indica L.,
Zerna sterilis (L.) Panzer., Eremopyrum triticeum (Gaertn.)
Nevski. Bromus variegatus Bieb., Hordeum leporinium Link.,
Avena eriantha Durieu, Trachynia distachyua (L.) Link,
Lolium rigidum Gaud., Medicago minima Grufb., Alyssum desertorum
Staph. More taxa (80-85) were detected in the lime regions. The species
that liked the lime soil are: Artemisia fragrans Willd, Astragalus
hyrcanus Pall., Gypsophylla paniculata L., Astragalus caspius
Hohen., Centaurea iberica Trev., Salsola nodulosa (Mog.)
Jijin., Stipa szovitsiana Trin., Gypsophylla bicolor Freyn.,
Eryngium campestre L. These species were located on the small hills
found mostly around Elet, Buzovna and Sihow regions in the Abseron Peninsula.
||Common associations and floristic composition of Caspian Shores
of Azerbaijan (Numbers indicate the abundance of the species; numbers
in parenthesis indicate aggregated abundance of the species)
(2) Artemisetum fragransae ass. nov. (3) Phragmetum
commucommunisae ass. nov (4) Junco littorali-Phragmetum communisae
ass. nov. (5) Hordeto leporini-Artemisetum szovitsii ass. nov.
(6) Tamarixo ramassisimae-Artemisetum szovitsii ass. nov.
(7) Ephedro distachiae-Phragmetum communisae ass. nov.
(8) Astragalusetum hyrcanae ass. nov. (9) Artemiso arenariae-Ephedretum
distachii ass. nov. (10) Thypho angustifolii-Glycyrrhizetum
glabrae ass. nov. (11) Salsolo dendroidesaeo-Artemisetum szovitsianae
ass. nov. (12) Carexetum ripariae ass. nov. (13) Suaedetum
dendroidesae ass. nov. (14) Salsoletumo dendroidesae ass. nov.
(15) Petrosimonietum brachiatae ass. nov. (16) Juncusetum
acutusae ass. nov. (17) Carexo compacta-Petrosimonietum brachiatae
ass. nov. (18) Tamarixetum ramasissimii ass. nov. (19)
Artemiso arenarii-Astragaletum hyrcanae ass. nov. (20)
Salsoletum ericoides ass. nov. (21) Calamastrostisetum giganteae
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Between 1950-1960 and between 1995-1997 the water level of the Caspian
Sea first raised about 2 m and then decrease 1,2 m (Titlyanova et al.,
1988). This periodical increase and decrease has caused the some formations
especially the psammophyte-littoral and halophyte-meadow-arid vegetations
to stay under the water. The increase in the level of water has caused
the low ground level to fill with water and caused a change of the psammophyte
vegetation to the arid-meadow vegetation (Prilipko, 1965, 1970; Prilipkpo
et al., 1961).
On the Caspian shore enclosed by Yalama, Hazmaz, Deveci and Lenkeran
plains, there are widespread swamp- meadow and grass-swamps. The Kizilagac
golf, a sanctuary region for the wild life preservation, was also within
the limit of our study area. There are wide swamp-meadow and real swamps
and they are a niche for birds and fish and form a good fishing place.
||The map of caspian shores vegetation of Azerbaijan. 1 Schahdili;
2 Buzovna-Bilgeh; 3 Schikhov; 4 Elet; 5 Gobustan; 6 Sangacal; 7 8
9 Schirvan; 10 Saratovka;11 Neftcala
Juncus littoralis C.A.Mey and Phragmites communis (L.)
Trin. species, widespread around Deveci, Abseron, Masalli and Lenkeran,
generally form homogenous associations and often form polydominant association
with Juncus littoralis C.A. Mey. ve Phragmites communis (L.)
Trin. Glycyrrhiza glabra L., Alhagi pseudoalhagi Desv.,
Artemisia szovitsiana (Boiss.) Grossh., Limonium meyeri
(Boiss.) Ktze., Psylliostachys spicata (Willd) Nevski., Tripolium
vulgare (L.) Nees. (Table 3, Fig.1-9).
The following species are more common on the coasts of the shore:
Scirpus tabernaemontani Gmel., S. lacustris L., Carex
bordzilowski V. Krecz, C. compacta Lam, C. divisa
Huds., C. riparia Curt., Carex bordzilovski V. Krecz,
C. compacta Lam., C. divisa Huds., C. riparia Curt.,
Thypha latifolia L., T. angustifolia L., T. laxmannii
Lep., Sparganium polyedrum (Asch. and Glaebun.) Juz., S.
neglectum Beeby, S. microcarpum (Neum.) Cel., Juncus acutus
L., J. littoralis C.A.Mey., J. gerardi Loisel., J.
||Vegetation types and dominant species of Caspian Shores of Azerbaijan
||At Sahdili station, according to distance from the seaside, the
distribution of topography and plants
||At Buzovna-Bilgeh station, according to distance from the seaside,
the distribution of topography and plants
||At Schikhov station, according to distance from the seaside, the
distribution of topography and plants
||At Elet station, according to distance from the seaside, the distribution
of topography and plants
There are monodominant associations formed by Juncus littoralis
and J. marittimus
species in the region between
Deveci Harbour in the North and the Celilabad and Masalli in the South.
The floristic content of these associations varies with the ratio of the
salinity and humidity.
The diameter of the shrub structures formed by Juncus littoralis
in the Sihov and Masalli regions is around 1 m and spread with 2-4 m space.
The soil covering species in the region Cynodon dactylon, Limonium
meyeri, Alhagi pseudoalhagi, Glychyrriza glabra are
more abundant. As it gets farther inward the abundance of Juncus littoralis
increases. The average height of this association is about 1 m and
the covering level is about 90%. Phragmites communis in the Sihov
region is widespread in the 20-30 m in length (Prilipko and Agacanov,
1972; Haciyev et al., 1991).
||At Sangacal station, according to distance from the seaside, the
distribution of topography and plants
||At Gobustan station, according to distance from the seaside, the
distribution of topography and plants
In the Northern part of Abseron peninsula, until Astara in the South the
following vegetation types are found: water-swamp (Hövsan, Zire, Sihav,
Kizilagac Körfezi, Sahdili), sandy-desert (Hövsan, Türkan,
Artyom, Sangaçal, Elet), halophytic-desert (Tasgil, Sirvan korugu,
Sangaçal, Saratovka, Neftçala) and semi-desert (Hövsan,
Türkan, Artyom, Elet, DRES, Dasgili) (Table 3, Fig.
1-9). Because the area has different ecological conditions, different vegetation
types have developed. The vegetation map of the region was drawn according
to its ecologic, floristic and phytosociologic features. In Table
1, the vegetation types and subtypes of the Caspian Shores are given.
The characteristic dominant and edificatory species of these types are as
||At Schirvan station, according to distance from the seaside, the
distribution of topography and plants
||At Neftcala station, according to distance from the seaside, the
distribution of topography and plants
Found especially in the sandy coasts of the region.
The following dominant and association-forming species are common in these
areas. Artemisia szowitsiana
, A. arenaria
, A. caspicus
, Collugonum petunnikovi
, C. bakuensis
, C. divisa
, Ephedra distachya
Halophytic wet-desert: Found especially in clayey soil with high
salt and humidity. The following association-forming species are common
in these areas. Salsola crassa, S. soda, S. glauca,
S. ericoides, Limonium caspium, L. meyeri, Glycyrrhiza
glabra, Juncus maritimus, J. littoralis, Suaeda
confusa, Petrosimonia brachiata, Salicornia europea,
Kalidium caspicum, Halostachys caspius, Halocnemum strobilaceum,
||The productivity of common associations of Caspian Shores of Azerbaijan
Halophytic arid-desert: Found especially in the areas with high
salt and low humidity. The following dominant species are characteristic
of this sub-vegetation type. Salsola dendroides, Salsola crassa,
S. soda, S. glauca, S. ericoides, Suaede dendroides,
S. confusa, Artemisia szovitsiana and A. scoparia.
Semi-desert: Found especially in clayey and lime soil with very
low level of salt and humidity. The associations formed by many dominant
or co-dominant ephemerid and ephemerid-like species such as Astragalus
hyrcanus, A. caspius, A. bakuensis, Artemisia fragrans,
are common in these associations.
Wet-swamp: This type is commonly found in the water-edge or in
the water or in the swamp areas. The following associations formed by
the edificative species such as Phragmites communis, Calamagrostis
giganthea, Tamarix ramasissima, Junsus littoralis, J.
acutus, Thypha angustifolia, Carex bordzilovski, C.
compacta, C. divisa, C. riparia, are common in these
Forest: Found in the areas with 5-10 m (Yalama and Lenkeran plain)
or more above the water level. They are formed by the following species
either as mono-dominant forms or as mixed forests Flora of Azerbaijan,
(Karyagin 1950-1961; Prilipko, 1965, 1970; Grossheym, 1948). Quercus iberica
Stev., Q. longipes Stev., Carpinus caucasica Grossh.,
Acer laetum C. A. Mey., A. campestre L., Coryllus avellana
L., Prunus spinosa L., P. divaricata Ledeb., Mespilus
Tugay (edge) type forests are found at the site where the Kur river joins
to Caspian Sea. The following species form pure or mixed Tugay (edge)
type forests in these areas (Fig. 1). Populus hybrida M. Bieb.,
P. tremula L., P. nigra L., Ulmus densa Litv.,
Tamarixs ramasissima Ledeb., Salix purpurea L., S. alba
L., Elaeagnus ancustifolia L.
On the Caspian Shores within Azerbaijan borders, there are 48 formations
and 57 associations belonging to 4 vegetation types (desert, semi-desert,
wet-swamp and forest) and 9 subtypes (Sandy-desert, halophytic wet-desert,
halophytic arid-desert, ephemerous subtropical semi-desert, subtropical
semi-desert, wet-swamp and swamp-meadow, edge (tugay) forest and coastal
1-9, Table 1).
Phytomass: The wet and dry weight of the above and under-ground
phytomasses of the 23 associations common to the study area was investigated
and the changes in the absolute humidity level of each of the association
were defined (Table 4). The phytomass values were taken in 0.25 cm2
The results of phytomass analysis of these associations are as following:
the wet-mass in 1 m2 above the ground of Phragmites communis
is 5 kg and its average height is 2, 5-3 m. On the arid parts of
the shores, the height of this plant reaches to 1, 8 m and the number
of the trunks is 24 and the wet mass above the ground is 3, 5-4 kg per
1 m2 (Haciyev et al., 1991; Prilipkpo et al.,
Above-ground phytomass: As shown in the Table 4, the values of
above ground phytomasses and absolute humidity change according to the
floristic composition of the associations and the edafic ecologic conditions
of the environment. The associations formed according to the absolute
humidity level can be grouped as following: associations with absolute
humidity level of :
||50-99 g low level absolute humidity.
||100-999 g mid level absolute humidity.
||1000-3000 g high level absolute humidity.
The humidity level of the associations with high absolute humidity level
changes between 1000-3000 g. The following are examples of such associations,
whose absolute humidity level changes between 1408-2309 g: Salicorno
europea-Kalidietum caspicae-2309 g, Astragaletum
hyrcanusae-2000 g, Juncusetum littoraliae-1650 g, Salsoletum dendroidesae-1408
g (Table 4).
The following are the examples with mid-level absolute humidity (100-1000
g): Petrosimonio brachiatae, Salicornietum europea, Junco
maritimus, Limonietum meyeriae, Juncetum littoraliae,
Salicornietum europae, Salsoletum dendroidesae, Artemisietum
fragransae, Thyphetum angustifoliae, Ephedretum distachiae,
Kalidietum caspicae, Carexetum divisae, Phragmetum communisae,
Ephedro distachyii and Calamagrostisetum giganteumae.
The following are the examples with low level absolute humidity (50-100
g): Junco maritimus, Glycyrrhizetum glabrae, Astragaletum
hyrcanusae, Alhagetum pseudoalhagae, Alhago pseudoalhagii,
Hordetum leporiniae, Atropiseto gigantei, Halocnemetum
Under-ground phytomass: The humidity of the under ground phytomass
of the associations also showed variation. Like that of above ground,
this variation was classified as following:
||10-99 g low level absolute humidity.
||100-999 g mid level absolute humidity.
||1000-5500 g high level absolute humidity.
The absolute humidity level for some of the associations is as following
Juncusetum littoralisae (5140 g), Junco maritimii-Phragmetum communisae
(3920 g), Phragmetum communisae (3136 g), Thyphetum
angustifoliae (1872 g), show a varying degree of high humidity
level between 1872-5140 g. Some other associations show low humidity level
between 22-880 g.
As can be seen from the Table 4, in some formations, such as Salicorno
europae-Kalidietum caspicae (2309 g), Astragaletum hyrcanusae (2000
g), Juncusetum littoralisii (1650 g), Salsoletum dendroidesae
(1408 g), the ratio of the above ground phytomass is much higher than
that of under ground phytomass. However, in some other formations, such
as Juncusetum littoralisae (5140 g), Junco littoralisii-Phragmetum
communisae (3920 g), Phragmetum communisae (3136 g),
Thyphetum angustifoliae (1872 g), this ration is reverse,
meaning the above-ground phytomass is much less than that of under ground
phytomass. Yet, in some other formations these ratios are very similar.
For example, the above and under ground phytomass of the following associations
are respectively as following: Junco littoralisii-Glycyrrhizetum glabrae
için 94, 8-53, 2 g, Astragaletum hyrcanusae 42, 5-10
g, Carexetum divisae 210-187 g, Salsoletum dendroidesae
342-232 g, Alhagetum pseudoalhagae 61-36 g, Tamarixetum
ramasissimusae 343-358 g.
Over-ground dry grass yield of the associations in the searched area
changed between 40-6400 g per 25 cm2 while that of underground
(40 cm in depth) changed between 50-4560 g. The underground and above
ground yield of Junco littoralii-Phragmetum communisae, Astragalo
hyrcanusae-Juncusetum littoralisae, Phragmetum communisae,
Thyphetum ancustifoliae change between 1164-4560 and 470-640 g
per 25 cm2, respectively. For the other associations, the above
ground yield per 25 cm2 changes between 50-470 g while that
of underground changes between 40-1164 g. The absolute humidity of the
above ground phytomass ranges from 60-1650 g while that of under ground
phytomass changes between 10-5140 g. The reason for the high level of
the absolute humidity is because these associations develop in the vicinity
of the water.
The absolute humidity level in Astragaletum hyrcanusae, Artemisetum
szovitsianae, Alhagetum pseudoalhagae, Ephedretum distachyae,
Junco marittimusae, Glychyrrizetum glabrae, Alhago pseudoalhagii-Hordetum
leporiniae is 10-88 g, while in Juncusetum littoralisae, Phragmetum
communisae, Thyphetum angustifoliae 1872-5140 g. In the other
associations changes between 187-445 g. The absolute humidity level in
Alhagetum pseudoalhagae, Alhago pseudoalhagii-Hordetum leporiniae,
Junco marittimusii-Glycyrrhizetum glabrae is 52-95 g while in the
other associations this value changes between 101-2309 g. The absolute
humidity level of the under ground phytomass is relatively less than that
of above ground. The reason for this fact is that the system of the plants
adopted to a watery environment is less developed than those adopted to
the arid environment.
Present results indicate that the absolute humidity level of the varying
associations in the Caspian Shore vegetation differs. This depends on
the morphological (one year, multi-year, rhisomous, shrub, grass, wood,
etc.), phytosociological (abundant, covering level) and phytoecological
(succulent, mezophyte, higrophyte, xerophyte, mezoxerophyte) features.