Pontic steppe

Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine

A vast ecoregion that is famed for being the birthplace of European language evolution and numerous nomadic, conquering tribes. Nature here is boundless with vast, open plains, huge rivers and deltas and wide coasts.

Pontic steppe

Status

Protection
0 %

Size

994,000 km²

UNESCO World Heritage Sites​

 

Background – CC Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Romania – Radueduard, 2013 / Map – CC Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported – Terpsichores, 2012

ACT
Help your Ecoregion
So what can you do to help your ecoregion? Below is a list to help you support your ecoregion, while also achieving life's everyday tasks. Don’t underestimate your power in doing good for nature!

PRODUCTS

Food: Salad Box

Services

Energy Provider: Tema Energy
Waste Management: Environ

At Home
Below is a list of actions you can easily take at home to minimise your impact on the ecoregion in which you live, and the rest of the planet too!
In your Garden
Below is a list of native plants and habitat creation tips you can use in your garden or on your property to give your ecoregion and its species a boost!

CANOPY LAYER

Try some of the steppeland's most important native trees such as Greyish Oak (Quercus pedunculiflora) and German Ash (Fraxinus pallisiae) if you have space. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating hollows in old, dead tree limbs.

SUB-CANOPY LAYER

Plant native sub-canopy trees like Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Silver Lime (Tilia tomentosa). To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating tree hollows in old, dead tree limbs.

SHRUB LAYER

Grow beautiful native shrubs from a variety of forms like the stunning Fern-leaved Peony (Paeonia tenuifolia), European Cornel (Cornus mas) and Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare). To create habitat, consider installing insect hotels, compost-heaps and bird-baths in this layer.

GROUND LAYER

Plant swathes of colourful steppe wildflowers like Echium russicum, Tartar Kale (Crambe tataria), Honey-garlic (Allium siculum), Rose Campion (Silene coronaria) and Purple Gromwell (Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum). Importantly, tufts of native grasses are also a great addition, including the dainty European Feather-grass (Stipa pennata) and Red Fescue (Festuca rubra). To create habitat, consider installing a pond or bog-garden with native aquatic and riparian plants like the White Water-lily (Nymphaea alba) and Narrowleaf Cattail (Typha angustifolia), log-piles for sheltering amphibians and reptiles and leave areas of leaf-litter for important insects.

Learn

The Pontic steppe ecoregion stretches officially from Romania in the west all the way through to Kazakhstan in the east. It is a varied landscape of generally open plains and wide, snaking river valleys. The vegetation is dominated by native grasses that create pastures rich in wildflowers of all colours. In spring, native bulbs take precedence, while in summer, daisies, orchids, peonies and larkspur follow. Birds and mammal life is particularly rich with many ground-dwelling species such as bustards, hamsters and polecats finding among their last refuges in these wide environments. At the foot of the Danube River as it enters the Black Sea on the Romanian coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site protects this most mighty of wild lands. Water-birds number in their millions, and are joined by migrants from Africa and Asia, while invertebrate life and aquatic fauna positively bursts at the seems. The Pontic steppe is a region heavily impacted by agriculture, and interestingly a rise in afforestation which reduces its biodiversity. Today over 35% of this ecoregion has been turned into cropland.

Ecoregion Structure
The structure of the ecoregion is defined as the key living and non-living features characterising its ecosystems, and the differences between how these ecosystems are arranged. For example, layers of vegetation, geology, habitat features and landscapes.

Geology

Wide steppelands of high-nutrient chernozem soils and alluvial plains

Climate

Temperate

Iconic Landscapes

Native plant communities

Scenes by @blueringmedia
Ecoregion Composition
The composition of the ecoregion is defined as the biodiversity that inhabits its ecosystems, and the differences between this biodiversity. For example, communities, populations, species, subspecies and genetic traits.
Keystone Species​
Keystone species are those that have a disproportionately large effect on the ecosystems in which they live, relative to their natural abundance there. In other words, species with a really important role in the health of ecosystems.
Flagship Species
Flagship species are those that are chosen by people to represent a wider conservation message, usually for a given place or social context, and as such often carry conservation messages for wider biodiversity.
Recently Extinct Species
All around the world, biodiversity is declining at a concerning rate. For some species it's already too late, and they have disappeared from the ecoregions they once called home. These are some examples of those lost species.

Techirghiol Stickleback
(Gasterosteus crenobiontus)

Tarpan
(Equus ferus subsp. ferus)

Ecoregion Function
The function of the ecoregion is defined as how its structural and compositional components all work together to form ecological relationships and processes which change over time through geological shifts and evolution by natural selection.

Keystone Relationships

Ground-squirrels form important components of soil turnover and regulate grassland-dominated ecosystems. Their tunnel networks and voracious diets keep meadow and steppe plants from becoming too dominant, and their burrows help regulate soil carbon and temperature.

Life-support Systems​

Keystone Relationships
As an apex predator, Brown Bears are essential in the balance of healthy ecosystems in the Balkan mixed forests. Their predation on herbivores such as deer species, keeps vegetation succession and many related food-chains, in check.

Biodiversity is fundamental to a healthy planet and thriving communities, but the world's species are under tremendous threat.