The presented research was conducted during 2019–2022 in south and southeast Kazakhstan to document the species richness, distribution, and ecology of charophytes (Characeae) as a first step towards to estimate the need for species protection. Across the 54 sites, we found ten species and one variety. Chara vulgaris Linnaeus and C. contraria A.Braun ex Kützing were the most common species, followed by C. canescens Loiseleur, C. kirghisorum C. F. Lessing, C. tomentosa Linnaeus, C. dominii J. Vilhelm, C. globata W. Migula, Nitellopsis obtusa (Desvaux) J. Groves, and Nitella hyalina (De Candolle) C. Agardh. The list of localities for each species was compiled. The distribution of each taxon was mapped in relations to the ecoregions studied. The two most frequent species were found in a wide spectrum of ecoregions, whereas all other species occurred in only a few regions in Kazakhstan. The Kaskelen River Valley had the most sampled sites with the highest number of co-occurring species (up to five together). Statistical maps were plotted in attempt to outline key environmental variables explaining the distribution of each species. A comparison of species and environmental variables distribution maps lets us assume that C. vulgaris prefers low altitude habitats with higher water temperatures, organic enrichments, and color, but low oxygen and pH. Other species prefer clear, alkaline, organically unpolluted, and well-oxygenated waters in lowland habitats. The redundancy detrended analysis (RDA) defined pH and altitude as negative factors for Nitellopsis obtusa whereas an increase in water temperature was positive. Altitude and water temperatures affected Chara contraria positively while altitude negatively influenced the rare species: Chara tomentosa, C. kirghisorum, and C. dominii. The matK sequences were obtained for C. contraria and C. vulgaris to confirm their identity according to morphological traits and to compare populations of C. gymnophylla and C. vulgaris from an arid region in Israel. Our data allowed for the preparation of a tentative red list from the study region. One species was recognized as endangered, four species and one variety as vulnerable, and two species as least concern. There was insufficient data to determine the status of two species and one variety.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We express our gratitude to the General Director Gulnara Sitpayeva (Sitpayeva Gulnara, ORCID ID 0000-0003-4614-6155, Scopus Author ID: 11141957300, 56910146600) and Program Manager Liliya Dimeyeva (Dimeyeva L. ORCID ID 0000-0002-9101-0460, Scopus Author ID 55789522700), mycological laboratories and algologists in support of charophyte research in the region. This work was partly supported by Minobrnauki of Russia in framework of agreement No. 075-15-2021-1056, 28 September 2021, for charophyte identification, partly by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project No. 20-04-00280, partly by the project “Flora and taxonomy of algae, lichens and bryophytes in Russia and phytogeographically important regions of the world”, No. 121021600184-6, of the Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the project No. 121031200178-8 of the Institute for Water and Environmental Problems of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences for conceptualization and discussion of results. Material collection in Israel was supported by the Israel Taxonomy Initiative and with permission from the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority. We are thankful to the Israel Ministry of Aliyah and Integration that partly supported this work as well as to Assaf Distelfeld, Tamar Krugman, and Tzion Fahima for the laboratory equipment access, and Vitaly Portnoy, and Elena Chiernyavsky for technical support, anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions.
© 2023 by the authors.
- DNA barcoding
- species protection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science