Middle Asian Montane Steppe & Woodlands | WWF

Middle Asian Montane Steppe & Woodlands

About the Area

Altitudinal complexity leads to the creation of isolated habitats and associated species diversity as several big rivers run through the area, and glaciers are common. The longest range of all, the Tian Shan, stretches more than 1,500 miles (2,500km). The highest point, Victory Peak, is about 24,200 feet (7,400m).

The most diverse ecosystems are mixed forests and meadows between 1,000 and 3,000m where up to 15% of the flora is endemic. Higher mountain meadows possess remarkably high insect diversity.

Local Species
The Middle Asian Montane Steppe contains more than 60 species of grass - many of them native to the area, including Volga fescue, Bulbosa bluegrass, and a species of Sedge. Some grow at higher elevations and receive abundant moisture while others are found on lower mountain slopes where conditions are drier.

Rising high above the grass are Walnut (Juglans regia), and Wild apple (Malus spp.) trees. Pistachio (Juniperus turkestanica) shrubs and Juniper (Juniperus turkestanica) bushes are also common.

A wide diversity of bulbs, especially wild tulips, thrives here. Every spring, thousands of wild flowers such as tulips and poppies burst into bloom.

Examples of mammal species are snow leopard (Panthera unica), Tian Shan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus), Siberia mountain goat (Capra sibirica), Menzbier's marmot (Marmota menzbiere), Markhor (Capra falconeri), and Tian Shan argalis (Ovis argalis karelini). Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), and Ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii) are some of the avian residents of these mountainous lands.

Water diversion projects, deforestation, industrialisation, mining, drilling, and human population expansion threaten the biodiversity of this ecoregion, particularly at lower elevations. In higher altitude zones, grazing is of significant concern.


878,500 sq km (339,000 sq miles)

Habitat type:
Montane Grasslands and Shrublands

Geographic Location:
Central Asia: Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan

Conservation Status:

Quiz Time!

In what unique way is Greigii tulip dependant on the sun?

How far the Greigii tulip opens is dependent on the intensity of the sun.

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