Kungur forest-steppe

The phenomenon of the Kungur forest-steppe: natural or human-made?

The Kungur forest-steppe is the most northern outpost of the European forest-steppe zone, the ecotone biome between woodlands and open landscapes stretching from the Carpathians to the Ural Mountains. The Kungur forest-steppe is located in the SE Perm region (Russia) within the zone of the pre-Uralian belt of hemiboreal spruce and fir-spruce forests with intermixed broadleaved trees. Due to the co-existence of boreal, temperate and steppe species, this island is characterized by high plant diversity and represents an important biodiversity hot-spot in the boreal zone. Intensive agriculture, pasture and lumbering is leading to the loss of this unique steppe ecosystems. For sustainable protection management, a background in vegetation history is a necessary requirement. Several driving factors for the origin of the Kungur forest-steppe were proposed by botanists and geographers: geology, climate of the past, or humans. However, no palaeoecological studies were implemented in order to understand its history. The project aims to understand the phenomenon of the Kungur forest-steppe in terms of its formation and dynamic within the hemiboreal zone of the pre-Urals. For this, peats and lacustrine sediments from Kungur forest-steppe will be studied in comparison to those from the typical hemiboreal forests. Palynology, sedimentology and botanical macroremain analysis will provide basis for the reconstruction of vegetation and environmental history of both regions. By testing the working hypotheses, the different roles of climate change, geology, edaphic factors, fire, human and animal impacts on the European forest-steppe in its northernmost occurrence will be evaluated. The obtained knowledge is important for sustainable conservation strategies for the Kungur forest-steppe. The project will provide a better understanding of forest and steppe dynamics in Eurasia and comparable ecotones in the world.


Shumilovskikh L.S., Sannikov P., Efimik E., Shestakov I., Mingalev V. (2021) Long-term ecology and conservation of the Kungur forest-steppe (pre-Urals, Russia): case study Spasskaya Gora. Biodiversity and Conservation 30,  4061–4087.

Shumilovskikh L.S., Abdulmanova I., Efimik E. (2020) Does season matter for moss surface sample collection? A case study from Kungur forest-steppe, pre-Urals, Russia. Palynology, in press, DOI: 10.1080/01916122.2020.1776780.

Shumilovskikh L.S., Schlütz F., Lorenz M., Tomaselli, B. (2019) Non-pollen palynomorphs notes: 3. Phototrophic loricate euglenoids in palaeoecology and the effect of acetolysis on Trachelomonas loricae. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 270, 1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.06.017.

Shumilovskikh L.S., Sannikov P.Yu. (2018) История Кунгурской лесостепи в голоцене: проблематика, подходы и первые результаты (History of the Kungur forest-steppe in the Holocene: problems, approaches and first results). Научные ведомости Белгородского государственного университета. Серия: Естественные науки (Belgorod State University Scientific Bulletin. Natural Sciences Series) 42 (4), 487-496, DOI: 10.18413/2075-4671-2018-42-4-487-496 (in Russian).

Schmidt M., Shumilovskikh L.S., Pereskokov M.L., Sivkov D., Sannikov P., Abdulmanova I.F., Giesecke T. Holocene vegetation and peat development in the mid-Kama area: case study Uinskoe mire (cis-Urals, European Russia). In prep.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: project 391893066