People sparsely populate the high mountains. The cultivation of the land is difficult here, and it can only be used in summer as a pasture for domestic animals. In the last century, the mountains have become a popular place of entertainment - at first, they were chosen by climbers, later by skiers. The laying of ski tracks, the construction of lifting devices, hotels, and recreation centers sometimes cause adverse changes in the natural environment.
High in the mountains, even on the rocks, flowers of extraordinary beauty grow, such as aquilegia. The highest city in the world is Lhasa (China), located in Tibet at an altitude of 3,630 meters.
1. Living conditions in the mountains are very different from the plains.
As you climb the mountains, the climate changes rapidly: the temperature drops, the amount of precipitation increases, the air becomes more rarefied—changes from the foot of the mountains to the peaks and the nature of the vegetation. Therefore, mountain habitats vary greatly from the base to the mountain peaks.
2. The variety of living conditions contributes to the fact that the mountains are inhabited by many species of animals. On the mountains, each vertical zone has its own fauna, to some extent similar to the fauna of the corresponding latitudinal zones of the Earth.
3. By the number of species of mountain animals, the forest zone is the richest. Highlands are much poorer than them. The higher up the mountains, the fewer species of animals - this is typical for most mountainous countries. On the mountain peaks, the ambient temperature is low, the atmosphere is rarefied, and the level of ultraviolet radiation is high. The most elevated parts of the high mountains are covered with eternal snow and are almost completely devoid of life.
4. Most animal species live at lower altitudes, only in a few or even in one zone of mountains. And only the most enduring representatives of the fauna have adapted to the difficult conditions of life on the tops of the world.
5. Mountain goats and sheep can enter very high mountains - up to almost 6000 meters. Of the vertebrates, only vultures and eagles penetrate above them, and occasionally other smaller birds fly in.
6. The wild yak is a large wild animal native to the Himalayas in Central Asia. It is the ancestor of the domesticated yak. Yaks are common in treeless areas, at an altitude of 3000 to 6100 meters. They are most often found in alpine tundras with relatively high amounts of grasses and sedges.
7. This animal is characterized by a massive body, with strong legs and rounded hooves. The fur is extremely dense, long, hanging below the belly, and perfectly protects from the cold. The color of the coat, as a rule, varies from light brown to black.
8. The fauna of the alpine zone is most peculiar, where many animals are found that are unknown on the plains: various types of mountain goats (in Western Europe - stone ibex, in the Caucasus - tour, in the mountains of Asia - Siberian ibex), chamois, Asian red wolf, some rodents , vulture, mountain turkey, or snowcock, alpine jackdaw and others.
9. It is interesting that the fauna of the Alpine zone in Europe, Asia, North America and northern Africa is generally homogeneous. This is due to the fact that in the highlands of different parts of the world, living conditions are very similar.
10. Orongo is a medium-sized artiodactyl mammal native to the Tibetan Plateau. Males have long, curved horns, while females lack them. The color of the back is reddish-brown, and the lower part of the body is light.
11. On the Tibetan plateau, orongos live in open alpine and cold steppe regions, at an altitude of 3250 to 5500 meters. These animals are found almost entirely in China, where they are found in Tibet, the provinces of Xinjiang and Qinghai; some populations are also found in Ladakh, India.
12. The Tibetan fox is a species from the canine family. These foxes are found in the Tibetan plateau, in India, China, the Sutlej valley in northwestern India and parts of Nepal, in particular in the Mustang region. Tibetan foxes are known to prefer barren slopes and streams.
13. The maximum height at which these mammals were seen was 5300 meters. Among all types of foxes, the Tibetan has the most elongated muzzle. Its coat color on the back, legs and head is reddish, and on the sides it is gray.
14. Hares are found in almost all areas of the mountains.
15. In many mountains, screes are formed; the life of interesting animals is connected with them - snow voles and mountain pikas (otherwise it is called hay rate).
16. Brown bears have the widest range, and are found in the northern part of Eurasia and North America. The animals do not appear to have specific altitude restrictions and are found from sea level up to 5,000 meters (in the Himalayas).
17. Brown bears are the largest land predators, after polar bears, and can weigh up to 750 kilograms. Brown bears are adapted to high altitude conditions due to their thick fur and ability to climb mountains.
18. Many mountain animals live only where there are rocks.
19. Musk deer, mountain goats and goral antelope are saved in the rocks from predators.
20. Now on many mountains one can meet argali and other wild sheep in the rocks. This is apparently due to the long pursuit of them by hunters.
21. Where wild sheep are little disturbed, they prefer to live on relatively gentle slopes, and only the bighorn sheep, or chubuk, living in the mountains of Northeast Asia, lives very similar to mountain goats.
22. Viviparous species of reptiles penetrate the mountains above others: some lizards, vipers, in northern Africa - chameleons.
23. In Tibet, at an altitude of more than 5000 meters, there is a viviparous round-headed lizard. Roundheads, living on the plains, where the climate is warmer, lay eggs.
24. When a lot of snow falls in the mountains, it is very difficult for ungulates: it prevents them not only from moving around, but also from getting food.
25. In the mountains of the Western Caucasus in 1931-1932 there was a very snowy winter. The layer of snow in some places exceeded 6 meters. Many deer, roe deer and other animals migrated to the lower parts of the mountains, where the snow cover was less. In this winter, roe deer ran into the villages and were easily given into hands. They were caught and kept in barns along with cattle until the snow melted in the mountains.
26. The Himalayan marmot is distributed throughout the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau at an altitude of 3500 to 5200 meters. These animals live in groups and dig deep burrows in which they sleep. The body size of the Himalayan marmot is comparable to that of a domestic cat. It has a dark chocolate brown coat with contrasting yellow spots on its head and chest.
27. The peculiar conditions of life in the mountains affected the external appearance of animals, the forms of their bodies, their way of life and habits.
28. Many generations of these animals lived in the mountains, and therefore they developed characteristic adaptations that help in the struggle for existence.
29. Mountain goats, chamois, American bighorn goats, bighorn sheep have large, mobile hooves that can move widely apart. Along the edges of the hooves - from the sides and in front - a protrusion (welt) is well defined, the pads of the fingers are relatively soft.
30. All this allows animals to cling to barely noticeable bumps when moving on rocks and steep slopes, and not to slip when running on icy snow.
31. The horny substance of their hooves grows very strong and quickly, so the hooves never “wear out” from abrasion on sharp stones. The legs of mountain ungulates allow them to make strong jumps on steep slopes and quickly reach rocks where they can hide from persecution.
32. Kiang is a large mammal from the horse family, which has a size at the withers of up to 142 centimeters, a body length of up to 214 centimeters, and a weight of up to 400 kilograms. Kiangs are common on the Tibetan Plateau, between the Himalayas in the south and the Kunlun Mountains in the north. Their range is almost entirely limited to China, but small populations are found in the Ladakh and Sikkim regions of India, and along the northern border of Nepal.
33. Kiangs live in alpine meadows and steppes, at an altitude of 2700 to 5400 meters above sea level. They prefer relatively flat plateaus, wide valleys, and low hills dominated by grasses, sedges, and a small amount of other low vegetation. This open area, in addition to a good prey base, helps them spot and hide from predators. Their only real natural enemy other than humans is the wolf.
34. In the spring, as the snow melts, the animals that descend down migrate to the upper zones of the mountains. Among wild ungulates, adult males are the first to rise, later - females with recently born, not yet strong enough babies.
35. Chamois, mountain goats, wild sheep and other ungulates living in the mountains often die in winter and early spring during snowfalls. In the Alps in the winter of 1905-1906, one of the snow avalanches buried a herd of chamois - about 70 heads.
36. Tibetan gazelle is a relatively small antelope, with a slender and graceful body. Males have long, tapering, ribbed horns, up to 32 centimeters long. Most of the body is grayish brown. Their fur has no undercoat, and consists only of long protective hairs, which thicken considerably in winter.
37. The Tibetan gazelle is native to the Tibetan plateau and is widely distributed throughout the region, at altitudes between 3,000 and 5,750 meters. They are limited to the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai and Sichuan, and small populations are found in the Ladakh and Sikkim regions of India.
38. Alpine meadows and steppes are the main habitats of these animals. Unlike some other ungulates, Tibetan gazelles do not form large herds and are usually found in small family groups. These artiodactyls feed on local vegetation, including forbs. Their main predator is the wolf.
MOUNTAIN LION - PUMA
39. In the Caucasian Reserve, it was possible to observe goat-turs during a heavy snowfall. Snow avalanches fell from the opposite slope of the gorge. But the tours, usually very cautious, did not pay attention to this. Apparently, they are accustomed to the menacing sounds of a snow avalanche.
40. At the end of December 1936, snowfall continued for four days in the Caucasian Reserve. At the upper border of the forest, a layer of new loose snow reached a meter. The scientists of the reserve went out to explore the state of the snow and noticed a fresh deep path that went down the slope. They skied down this trail and soon overtook a large tur. Only a head with horns was visible from the snow.
41. The tour was so helpless that one of the employees could even afford liberties in handling him - he sat on a wild tour on horseback! Another employee photographed the scene. Tur was helped out of the snow and left. The next day, his tracks were found much lower - in the forest on a steep slope, where the aurochs could feed on lichens hanging from fir branches.
42. The snow leopard living in the high mountains of Asia has unusually long and lush fur, while its tropical relative, the leopard, has short and rarer fur.
43. Animals living in the mountains molt in the spring much later than the animals of the plains, and in the fall their hair begins to grow back earlier.
44. One of the remarkable adaptations caused by living conditions in the mountains is vertical migrations, or migrations.
45. In autumn, when it becomes cold high in the mountains, snowfalls begin and, most importantly, food is difficult to obtain, many animals migrate down the slopes of the mountains.
46. Deer, roe deer and wild boars are found in the mountains up to alpine meadows; in autumn they descend into the forest. Most of the chamois go here for the winter.
47. Mountain goats migrate to the forest part of the mountains and settle here on steep rocky slopes. Sometimes they move to the southern slopes, where snow melts in alpine meadows in the very first hours or days after a snowfall, or to steeper windward slopes, where the snow is simply blown away by the winds.
48. Following wild ungulates, predators hunting them migrate - wolves, lynxes, snow leopards.
49. The variety of natural conditions in the mountains allows animals to find places for wintering near the areas where they live in summer. Therefore, the seasonal migrations of animals in the mountains are, as a rule, much shorter than the migrations of animals and birds on the plains.
50. In the mountains of Altai, Sayan and North-Eastern Siberia, wild reindeer make seasonal migrations of only a few tens of kilometers, and deer living in the far north sometimes travel a thousand kilometers to reach their wintering grounds.
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