1067-4136/03/3405- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 34, No. 5, 2003, pp. 285–291. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 5, 2003, pp. 323–329.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Chistyakova, Leonova.
Active development of territories occupied by broa-
dleaf forests has entailed the drastic reduction of their
area and some irreversible changes in their structure.
The existing fragments of these forests appear like
islands surrounded by farmlands, villages, and other
anthropogenically transformed areas. The most obvi-
ous consequences of the exploitation of forest commu-
nities include the reduction of their biological produc-
tivity and species diversity.
Recent changes in the strategy of man–nature inter-
actions incur the risk of anthropogenic disasters.
Hence, studies on the factors of sustainable develop-
ment of ecosystems acquire vital importance. The data
on their structure, dynamics, and functioning may pro-
vide a basis for the development of effective
approaches to the conservation and management of nat-
ural resources in accordance with the basic ecological
principles. The most valuable forest areas have protec-
tive status. This concerns both state nature reserves
(Voronezhskii, Voroninskii, Kaluzhskie Zaseki, Priok-
sko-Terrasnyi, etc.) and numerous natural landmarks
managed by the local authorities. Unfortunately, the
protective status per se cannot provide a satisfactory
solution to the problem of biodiversity conservation in
these forests. Widespread disturbances of forest struc-
tures under the effects of felling, livestock grazing, and
other economic activities have caused irreversible suc-
cessional changes in forest communities, which entail
the impoverishment of their species composition
, 1990, 1997;
1994; Maslov, 1995; Chistyakova, 1997;
The purpose of this work was to assess the state of
populations of the main ediﬁcator tree species in order
to make a diagnosis of the current state of forest com-
munities and to forecast the pattern of their future
OBJECTS AND METHODS
As model communities, we have chosen two pro-
tected oak forests, both in Penza oblast: Prisurskaya
Dubrava, which is in the central part of the right-bank
Sura River ﬂoodplain, in the vicinity of Penza, and
Shnaevskaya Dubrava, which grows on a watershed.
The distance between them is approximately 25 km.
Prisurskaya Dubrava is located upstream from the dam
of the Sura Reservoir. Before 1979, when the dam was
built, its area had been ﬂooded each year for a consid-
erable period of time. This period has decreased since
then. This forest is composed of tree species tolerant to
ﬂooding, such as
Mill. In recent decades, new species have
appeared in this forest due to the decrease in the level
of ﬂooding. They include
As the age of trees ranges from one to 220 years,
they form a multilayered community. Tree height in the
ﬁrst layer is 20–25 m; in the second, 15–18 m; and in
the third, 8–13. Crown density does not exceed 0.7. The
underbrush is sparse and consists mainly of
L. and, in places,
The State of Protected Forest Communities in the European
Forest–Steppe Zone of Russia and Prospects
for Their Reconstruction: A Case Study of Specially Protected
Areas of Penza Oblast
A. A. Chistyakova and N. A. Leonova
Penza State Pedagogical University, ul. Lermontova 37, Penza, 440026 Russia
Received July 16, 2002
—The structure of most forest communities in the European forest–steppe, including protected areas,
has been disturbed. The adverse consequences of these disturbances include the incomplete age structure of the
populations of cenosis-forming species and the irreversibility of successions. The conservation of biodiversity
in the structurally disturbed communities is impossible without human intervention, which must be aimed at
restoring their age heterogeneity with regard to their speciﬁc ecological features.
: communities, populations, structure, age states, viability, mosaic pattern, ﬂoodplain, watershed,
light regime, reconstruction.