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In the Expanses of the Karakum Desert

The largest arid zone in Central Asia and the second largest in the world after the Sahara is the Karakum Desert. Unlike the Arabian and other deserts devoid of vegetation, it is mostly covered with tree and shrub vegetation, or desert forests, which form a kind of ecosystem with their natural and climatic features and biological diversity. Vegetation cover has largely retained its natural character, the constant renewal of which shows the adaptive properties of ecosystems and their ability to withstand the effects of climate change. In this regard, work on environment protection, the rational use of the natural resources of the desert and the reduction of the impact of anthropogenic factors continues.

To Protect Endemics and Rare Species of Flora

The compilation of the next, fourth, edition of the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan, which taxonomists often refer to when studying the biology of rare species, is at the final stage. One of the compilers of the scientific work of the flora section is the senior research worker of the laboratory of forest and pasture ecology of the National Institute of Deserts, Flora and Fauna of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan Guljamal KURBANMAMEDOVA. For readers of the newspaper, the scientist explains the nuances in the general concept of rare plant, offering to expand the boundaries of understanding of such a status, because the identification of a low abundance of a species does not always clearly indicate the need to take measures to protect it: “The small number of plants with a limited habitat due to anthropogenic causes is understandable; it arises under the influence of various forms of human economic activity or from recreational loads. If we consider the rarity of species of natural origin, then it can be conditioned by various factors; scientists divide them into biotic and ecological, while not dependent on humans. Then the circumstances that limit the size of the population are not always regarded as indicators that can threaten the state of the species. Under normal life activity, including self-renewal, the biological resistance of plants

Thirst-quenching yandak

«7/24. tm», № 27 (110), 04.07. 2022 Hot days have come, and each of us wants to quench his thirst. The hand stretches to the refrigerator for a soft drink.

Thirst-quenching yandak

Hot days have come and each of us wants to quench our thirst. So the hand stretches to the refrigerator for a soft drink. And I remember the distant 1960s, when my grandfather gave me instructions on how to quench my thirst in the summer with health benefits, especially in case of indigestion after taking melons or other gifts of the Turkmen fields. He used to get his tin box of Indian tea with a tight-fitting lid from the shelf and, like a magician, take out a pinch of crushed and dried flowers of yandak – camel’s thorn. Having brewed and mixed it with honey, he gave us this wonderful, truly tonic drink. Our ancestors from time immemorial grasped the causal relationship of the effects of medicinal plants on human health. Knowledge was fixed and deposited in the collective memory of an endless succession of generations, in order to later find application in everyday life.

Amazing Meetings in the Daray-Dere Gorge

This year’s expedition season presented new scientific finds and discoveries, which pleased the joint group of employees of the Kopetdag and Koytendag State Natural Reserves, who carried out research work in the picturesque watered gorge of the Koytendag Mountains – Daray-dere. This place can be called a paradise, although for scientists it is a Klondike for floristic research, a vast natural “botanic garden”, where viewing the rarities of the plant world is a real pleasure for the researcher, and every now and then on the path, one come across not only amazing representatives of flora, but also animals that inspectors do not often see in their natural habitat. The length of the branched gorge exceeds 18 kilometres, and all this linear space is accompanied by life-giving river water – clear and icy, “crunchy” from purity, tasty moisture goes around the high sides throughout the season and irrigates the deep canyon. Therefore, the entire gorge is a lush green oasis, which is filled with the sonorous voices of birds. Where there is water, life is in full swing, and, going there in anticipation of new impressions, we took with us cameras, all kinds of accessories for biotechnical work and sampling and the basis for collecting an herbarium.

Dushak-Erekdag – one of the models of the Kopetdag Mountains

This is a remarkable place for botanists – a natural model of the Central Kopetdag Mountains, which is characterised by talus and stony-precipitous rocks, gentle grassy mountain slopes, narrow gorges with steep deep sides, plateau-like mountain peaks and intermountain dry steppe valleys. Its most familiar view is waterless, dry, as if breathing with heat in the summer sultry weather, high mountain ranges, which fascinate tourists with their inaccessibility and unique contrasts. For example, from the burning summer atmosphere of acclive slopes and lowlands with scorched vegetation and an abundance of thorns, you can move on to late spring on the intermountain plateau, where feather grass and fescue and couch grass vegetation blooms for a long time. The higher the mountains, the cooler the climate. Strong off-season winds sway these grasses, as if they passed in multidirectional frequent ridges along a rustling soft shiny base, abruptly breaking off from the edge of the sloping sides of the plateau down into echoing gorges, where insects buzz during the day, and cicadas monotonously “sing” at night. In the desert, summer quickly and imperceptibly absorbs all life and dissolves it in its boundless ocean of sands, where superheated air, dancing in the distance and creating a mirage over hot dunes, makes an indelible impression.

Astragalus Blossoms in the Karakum Desert

In early spring, one can observe various astragalus species blossoming on the sand dunes, exhaling a subtle, exquisite delicate aroma. Less often, astragalus can be found at the foothills, where they do not “climb” high. The representatives of Astragalus alopecias that have fluffy spherical panicles-inflorescences are particularly beautiful; seven species are known, including Astragalus globiceps and Astragalus schahrudensis These large perennials up to 1 metre high with seven-centimetre inflorescences in diameter adorn flower beds. Astragalus macrobotrys with elongated inflorescences with pinkish-purple flowers that can be found in the sands has a peculiar form. The “inhabitant” of the Karakum Desert, Astragalus flexus blooms beautifully; its bright yellow large flowers form racemose inflorescences. The endemic gem of the nature of the Kopetdag Mountains is the cushion-shaped Astragalus podolobus. In the spring, during the blooming period, it resembles an impressive bunch of flowers – a fragrant pink-purple “ball” on the rocks, up to 80 centimetres in diameter. Some of astragalus species are attractive during the fruiting period. Astragalus chiwensis is quite extraordinary; it reaches 70 centimetres in height and diameter in wet years. Shaggy leaves and racemes of swollen beans give the shrub its originality. Astragalus sericopetalus is an endemic plant of the mountains covere

Spring tree planting campaign

«Türkmenistan Sport», № 1 (13), 2022 On March 20, 2022, the spring tree planting campaign was launched with the participation of President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov.

Pro­fes­sion that Gives Joy

The­re is a pro­fes­sion – a flo­rist, which gives a go­od mo­od for peop­le. For as long as she can re­mem­ber, Sa­par­gul Mam­met­ku­liyeva, an ag­ro­no­mist at the green­hou­se comp­lex of the Pub­lic Uti­li­ties De­part­ment of the Ash­ga­bat Hya­kim­lik, has al­ways be­en sur­roun­ded by flo­wers and plants. It was so in Mag­tym­gu­ly et­rap, whe­re she spent her child­hood and in the sett­le­ment of Chan­dy­bil, whe­re she la­ter wor­ked as a mas­ter gar­de­ner for several years and at the foot­hills of the Ko­pet­dag Moun­tains, in a new green­hou­se comp­lex. In­te­res­ting­ly, the love of this won­der­ful pro­fes­sion and in fact, the way of li­fe, was ins­til­led in the crafts­wo­man by her fat­her, who for a long ti­me, un­til re­ti­re­ment, wor­ked as a fo­re­man in the nur­se­ry of the Gök Gu­şak Joint Stock Com­pa­ny. In­deed, fol­lo­wing the es­tab­lis­hed rhythm, Sa­par­gul be­gins her wor­king day by discus­sing the tasks of the cur­rent day with her friend­ly te­am that con­sists of 15 peop­le. And the­re are a lot of them: the checking of how seed­lings grow in special cas­set­tes for sub­sequent plan­ting in open ground, the se­pa­ra­tion of flo­wers by varie­ty and colour sche­me, the pre­pa­ra­tion of pot­ted flo­wers and much mo­re.

Bloo­ming vio­lets and win­ter-sweets

In the flo­wer­beds of city parks, lacy leaves of or­na­men­tal cab­ba­ge and bright frag­rant calen­du­la flo­wers are still blos­so­ming in splen­dour. So­on, in ear­ly March, mass plan­ting of an­nual and pe­ren­nial flo­wer crops is be­gin­ning in the capi­tal city. From now on, every day in flo­wer­beds along the cent­ral avenues and streets, thou­sands of various species of or­na­men­tal flo­we­ring plants, cut­tings of ro­ses and wild ro­ses will be plan­ted dai­ly, ta­king in­to account two months of bright but short Turk­men spring in or­der to crea­te a con­ti­nuous se­ries of flo­we­ring, whe­re the blos­som fa­ding of so­me flo­wers would be com­pen­sa­ted by the bloom of ot­hers. To do this, plan­ting pat­terns, com­bi­na­tions of plants and the quan­ti­ties of seeds la­id in au­tumn in con­tai­ners with a nut­rient mixtu­re are calcula­ted. And now, in the nur­se­ries, green­hou­ses and con­servato­ries of the capi­tal city, count­less Ka­lanchoe, ge­ra­niums, ma­ri­golds, pe­tu­nias and decora­tive pop­pies have al­rea­dy be­en grown and are rea­dy for transp­lan­ta­tion. A few weeks be­fo­re the plan­ting sea­son, landscaping work be­gan: dig­ging and pre­pa­ring the so­il, re­novating tree plan­ta­tions and clea­ring the ho­les from de­ad plants.

Pis­tachio Grove on the Outs­kirts of the Capi­tal

The af­fo­res­ted hills in Bik­rova, app­roaching the sout­hern outs­kirts of the capi­tal, are low: on­ly 200-300 met­res above sea level. The ear­liest and ma­tu­re fo­rest plan­ta­tions are concent­ra­ted on a vast area up to the Ko­pet­dag rid­ge. The hills be­gin to “swell” and “dive” down be­hind the last row of cot­ta­ges – the foot­hill start the­re. The bo­ta­nical ra­ri­ties li­ned up ne­ar the count­ry ro­ad – mul­ber­ry trees, po­pu­lar­ly cal­led “han tut”, its fruits are juicy and full of “cher­ry-rasp­ber­ry” juice, Zi­zip­hus, pecan trees and Elaeag­nus orien­ta­lis, and pis­tachio trees can be se­en be­hind them. If you climb hig­her, you can see that the­re are ma­ny of them – a lar­ge grove, about 50 ma­tu­re trees. The trees are in excel­lent con­di­tion and de­monst­ra­te their unp­re­ten­tious­ness to soils and lack of ir­ri­ga­tion in a se­mi-wild landscape. Cer­tain­ly, the seed­lings we­re loo­ked af­ter, wa­te­red and kept nou­ris­hed du­ring their ear­ly years. When wal­king amongst the trees, the count­ry’s ol­dest fo­res­ter Ak­mu­rad Ata­mu­ra­dov, a specia­list in pis­tachio cul­tivation, explai­ned that the grove con­sists of fe­ma­le and ma­le trees, the fe­ma­le trees be­ar lar­ge fruits, lar­ge clus­ters re­sult from the cros­sing with lar­ge-frui­ted forms. The first trees we­re plan­ted expe­ri­men­tal­ly 15 years ago. To­day, the out­door b

Fa­rab sphinx

in the ni­ne­teenth cen­tu­ry, the Ger­man scien­tist A. Hum­boldt is known to have int­ro­duced the term “na­tu­ral mo­nu­ment” in­to science. It means ama­zing na­tu­ral spots or frag­ments. In the Le­bap velayat, the most fa­mous of them are located in the south, in the Koy­ten­dag et­rap. The­se are, first of all, the world fa­mous pla­teaus with di­no­saur tracks left 150 mil­lion years ago and karst caves with their ama­zing­ly beau­ti­ful in­lea­ka­ge decora­tion. De­pen­ding on the scien­ti­fic and aest­he­tic value and unique­ness, na­tu­ral mo­nu­ments dif­fer in their im­por­tance in descen­ding or­der and in ot­her sta­tu­ses: re­gio­nal, na­tio­nal and local. Yes, such att­ractions do not have to com­pe­te with tho­se that scien­tists and tou­rists and simp­ly lovers of beau­ty know about in ma­ny count­ries. Ho­wever, this do­es not me­an that na­tu­ral mo­nu­ments of local im­por­tance are not of in­te­rest, this is evidenced by the unique cor­ners of na­tu­re located in the Fa­rab et­rap.

In the Feat­he­red King­dom

The re­la­tions­hip bet­ween hu­mans and na­tu­re, which ori­gi­na­tes from the depths of cen­tu­ries, has not lost its his­to­rical and educatio­nal sig­ni­ficance un­til now. This is the cent­re of un­re­mit­ting at­ten­tion of Pre­si­dent Gurbanguly Ber­di­mu­ha­me­dov – a con­nois­seur and expert in the flo­ra and fau­na of our sun­ny count­ry.

At the expanses of the caspian region

The scientific “portfolio” of the National Institute of Deserts, Flora and Fauna has been updated, and the laboratories have chosen new scientific topics for the period 2021–2025. In the pre-winter period, the expedition trips of 2021, which scientists use to study nature seasonally, to collect material and to advance in research in their areas of study, ended. In the schedule of activities of scientists of the biodiversity laboratory of the Institute, the last trip was listed as “monitoring of the vegetation of the Caspian deserts and their economic importance”. Geo-botanical studies covered the Krasnovodsk plateau, the Oktumgum sands and the Turkmenbashi-Garabogaz seaside alluvial lowland. Berdymurad Yazhanov, a postgraduate student of the Institute of Applied and General Biology of the Oguzhan Engineering and Technology University, joined the group of researchers. For him it was the first field experience. The Karakum Desert is contrasting: at different time of the year it looks like either blooming or scorched wasteland; now against the background of a monotonous grey space on saline soils, there are red-orange “islands” due to the presence of annual juicy halophytes – Climacoptera, Suaeda and Salsola sclerantha, which continue vegetating due to the lack of frost. Of interest is the vegetation of the site adjacent to the southern coast of the Garabogazgol Ba

Rare Animals in Camera Traps

To take a picture of a rare animal at close range is a great success even for nature inspectors who conduct regular inspections around the areas of the state nature reserves. Sometimes, black kites, vultures, steppe eagles or eagle owls are captured at the nesting site, and a fox searching for food is spotted. The workers of the Badhyz Nature Reserve were lucky to see a leopard tracking down its prey and leaving for a den with two cubs; ecologists admired the dizzying leaps of adult bezoar goats in the Kopetdag Mountains. From time to time, a wolf and a hyena get into the camera traps. In recent years, ecologists of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection have introduced automatic cameras, the so-called camera traps, into the practice of scientific natural history. These cameras help conduct observations of rare, “Red Data Book” animals in their natural habitats, which the staff of the nature reserves could see rarely when carrying out planned research activities and biodiversity inventory. This was partly due to the predominantly night or twilight schedule of wakefulness or great caution of these animals. This method has been used in the Koytendag Mountains since 2013, and it gave a brilliant result – a lynx with two kittens got into the camera trap. Scientists do not even have to dream about seeing such a scene; this animal is very sensitive to human pre

Camera trap captures a leopard in the Badkhyz Reserve

«7-24.tm», № 03 (86), 17.01.2022 A Persian leopard was spotted on the territory of the Badkhyz State Nature Reserve. A camera trap captured the predator. Camera traps are the special devices equipped with a motion sensor. They can take a photo or video of animals from a close distance without human intervention.

The Land Where “the Wind Is Born”

Since ancient times, the lowlands of Badhyz have served as natural passages from the countries of Front Asia eastwards to Central Asia and Western China. Those places were famous for rich pastures and comfortable wintering sites. Caravan routes ran there in ancient times. From those times, there remained barely noticeable tracks of roads, the ruins of fortresses and caravan sheds, abandoned wells and memories of the local nature of travellers, who had to overcome Badhyz dense forests for several days in the 13th century. The contemporary look of the vegetable cover is peculiar – a savannah type pistachio open woodland. The diorama in the section of Badhyz in the Department of Local Nature of the State Museum of the State Cultural Centre of Turkmenistan provides visitors with the view of one of the beautiful natural sites of our country. Its name is translated as the land where the wind is born. This year, the Badhyz State Nature Reserve, located in the interfluve between the rivers and founded to preserve the riches of the local animal and vegetable kingdom, is celebrating 80 years.

Diverse Mountainous Juniper

The formation of the floristic composition of juniper forests, the impact of such groups on the environment determined the importance of the plant for the sustainable development of the entire vegetation cover of the mountains. In the structure of the vegetation cover of the Kopetdag Mountains, the presence of the Turkmen juniper reflects the ecological stability of ecosystems. The flow rate of mountain springs and small rivers, the control over the mudflow hazard factor, the structure and productivity of plant communities and the wellbeing of the entire flora and fauna depend on the safety of juniper woodlands. Due to their geographical position, the Kopetdag Mountains separate the deserts of Turan and Iran and at the same time connect the mountainous regions of Zagros, the Armenian Highlands, Transcaucasia and Atropatena (Northern Iran) with the Pamir-Alai system and Hindu Kush, and they are a kind of region with a system of parallel ridges elongated in the north-western-eastern direction. In addition, the Kopetdag Mountains are a barrier to air masses that conditions the climate of southern Turkmenistan, a fresh water accumulator, a supplier of valuable soil-forming rocks and a centre of origin and genetic diversity of many plants and animals with a rather high degree of endemism. According to their structural features, they are distinguished into the Western, Central and E

Secrets of the Vegetable Kingdom

The UN announced a decade of the restoration of ecological systems for the period from 2021 to 2030, due to the fact that the degradation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems leads to economic losses, while more than two billion hectares of deforested and degraded land can be restored, a new study by UNEP says. According to preliminary estimates, by 2030 it is planned to “return to life” from 765 million to 1 billion hectares of agricultural and wet lands worldwide. The nature-forming role in ecosystems is played by the vegetation cover of land or sea algae, and it is not in vain that biologists, ecologists and climatologists pay special attention to afforestation and the restoration of forests and phytoplankton of reservoirs and to the study of the ability of plants of different climatic zones to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to maintain the healthy state of natural complexes.

Dag­dan Means “from Moun­tains”

In the world flo­ra, the area of the Cel­tis encircles the glo­be in a wi­de strip, the nort­hern bor­der of which pas­ses through Ja­pan, con­ti­nen­tal Asia and sout­hern Eu­ro­pe, and the sout­hern bor­der runs through Aust­ra­lia, the Cape re­gion of Af­rica and Ar­gen­ti­na. Des­pi­te the high po­ly­morp­hism, the­re are 50 Cel­tis species, the plant re­tains a sing­le ty­pe of structu­re of flo­wers, fruits and leaves, occupying various ecolo­gical niches. This beau­ti­ful, po­wer­ful tree with a luxurious fif­teen-met­re crown is one of the few deciduous drought-re­sis­tant rock plants. Its bluish-green hard leat­he­ry leaves tend to curl in hot weat­her, which re­duces trans­pi­ra­tion – evapo­ra­tion of mois­tu­re. Fruits – dru­pes with fles­hy swee­tish pulp – ri­pen by Octo­ber, un­til la­te au­tumn they stay on the branches, serving as fo­od for birds. The light-loving plant li­kes free­dom and space, spreads its crown wi­de­ly, grows slow­ly, but lives up to 600 years, forms a develo­ped ro­ot sys­tem, kee­ping li­mes­to­ne outcrops and ot­her rocky moun­tain expo­su­res in low­lands from was­hout and wind ero­sion.