Biodiversity of Javakheti Protected Areas
In Samasri Range subnival zone 62 species of plants are recoreded, among them 3 local and 14 Caucasian endemics, other species are widespread in the southern Caucasus and Asia Minor.
Javakheti is woodless region. Artificial plantation of pine groves and fragments of natural foresrs are sparsely represented. The most important natural subalpine forest is on the Georgia-Turkey border in the area of Lake Kartsakhi. Here are: the Caucasian berries of white birch, quince, sweetbrier and raspberry bushes.
On Javakheti upland Kartsakhi and Sulda swamps are generated as a result of tussock swamping of lakes. The most widespread formation of such swamps are formed by domination of wetland ecosysytemsCarexacuta. Tussock surface is always covered with plentiful and high grasses, which are formed by sedge species.
In Kartsakhi lake and its surroundings on mountain steppes and steppified meadows, in 2004 a representative of rose family described in Georgian flora was discovered - Dasiphorafruticosa, which canbe found nowhere else in Georgia.
In sough ecosystems there are numerous endemic species: 15 species of plants, among them 12 Caucasian and 3 Georgian endemic.
In Javakheti Protected Areas there are 19 local, emdemic species. Among them: Javakhetiscorzonera. AchilleasedelmeyerianaSosn., Delphinium thamaraeKem. - Nath., HeracleumwilhelmsiiFisch. & Ave - Lall. , TragopogonketzkhoveliiKuthatheladze, TragopogonmakaschviliiKuthatheladze, TragopogonmeskheticusKuthatheladze and others.
Javakheti has an exceptional beauty. Here are diverse pastures, volcanic weathered mountains and lakes of unique beauty.
Madatapa, Khanchali and Kartsakhi lakes are domains of water birds.
These lakes were full of fish species (lake trout), but letting other species of fish go into lakes (carp, European cisco, common carp and others) caused extinction of local species and decreasing their population. Nowadays there are 12 species of fish in these lakes.
Lakes have always been and still remains the habitat of wild water birds. In Kartsakhi lake there are 59 species of birds, among them 20 species are water floating; In Kartsakhi swamp there are 21 species of birds, among them 6 species are water floating. In Sulda swamp there are 15 species of birds, among them 8 species are water floating.
Here can be found many white storks, which make nests on the power poles and rooftops of the houses. In Madatapa and Kartsakhi it is possible to observe cranes and white pelicans. Here are also the huge colonies of Armenian gulls. In the banks of lakes and in local swamps there are many: common snipes, great snipes, and stilts. In swamps lake birds of prey build their nests marsh harriers and long-legged buzzards, they are the most common predators in Javakheti highland.
Herewith Javakheti upland is one of the main track of bird migration. There are many nesting water birds in Javakheti (the majority stay here in winter and move from frozen lakes to the rivers.) Seasonally, especially in autumn this place is filled with various water and swamp birds of prey.
From Javakheti cornfields you can constantly hear the sound of snipe and quail. In lakes there are thousands of coots, whistlers, wild geese, red and wild, broad-billed and crested ducks, garganeys, gray ducks and common pochards.
Khanchali lake uniqueness is that its water is very low. The depthe of lake is only 80 cm and wild birds get food easily from the bottom of lake. Due to low depth, Khanchalilake is the warmest and is the best living and resting place for water birds. In the beginning of the 90th the local government dried the part of lake for grassland. This was a real ecological disaster, as a result of which thousands of birds have never return to their nests. This problem wtill remains unsolved.
In Javakheti highlands there are 40 species of mammals, among them 10 predators and 2 ungulates. Both species of ungulates, as well as lynx and bear rarely appear in bare places.
Widespread species are: Marbled polecat (Vormelaperegusna, globally vulnerable species), otter (Lutralutra), European hare (Lepuseuropaeus), badger (Melesmeles), fox (Vulpesvuples) and wolf (Canis lupus).
Rabbits, foxes and wolves are spread throughout the mountainous region of Javakheti, and Marbled polecat is recorded only in border area (in Madatapa lake area). Lots of small rodent hamsters and field mice are wonderful food for them.
In the 80th several femilies of Ondatra were brought in Khanchala Lake. Animals propagated very quickly and reached almost all impoundments in Javakheti. The damage caused by ondatris to the local ecosystem is not still explored.
Species from the “Red List” of Georgia
From rare and endangered species there are 2 species of birds, which are included in IUCN “Red List”, 6 species – in the “Red List” of Georiga, 12 species in Africa-Eurasia Migratory Bird Agreement. 1 species of mammals is included in IUCN “Red List” and in the “Red List” of Georgia. Among them the most notable ones are: gray hamster Cricetulusmigratorius), Turkish hamster (Mesocricetusbrandti), otter (Lutuslutus) and others.
Six species of mammals (mainly rodents) are the Caucasian endemics: Rat taupe (Nannospalaxnehringi), Turkish hamster (Mesocricetusbrandti), Daghestanpine vole (Terricoladaghestanicus), Nazarov’s vole (Terricolanasarovi), Caucasian water shrews (Neomysteres), Caucasian shrew (SorexsatuniniOgnev) and others.