Wudalianchi has exceptional biological features. It is special because it contains a high number of animal and plant species and communities, in unusual combinations, while also being a key National Park in NE Asia for the protection of rare and endangered species. The influences on the biology that make it so special are profound: a relatively harsh climatic environment, poor substrate and challenging topograph y, a remot e mid - continent al geographical location, a location at the transition between several distinct eco- and floristic regions, and a long history of volcanic eruptions that caused successive destruction and re-birth of the established vegetation.
According to the bio-geographical classification by Udvardy, Wudalianchiis located in the Pale arctic Realm and temperate-broadleaf forest biome of the Manchuria-Japanese Province. In terms of the WWF Terrestrial Eco-region of the World, Wudalianchi belongs to the Temperate-Broadleaf Mixed Forest, and specifically the Manchurian Mixed Forest Eco-region (PA0426), but is also under the influence of the European-
Siberian coniferous forest region and the Eurasian steppe region. Wudalinachi further belongs to the temperate floodplain rivers and wetlands of the Songhua River WWF Freshwater Eco-region (620), and is a Birdlife International - International Bird Area, categorized as A1, because of its importance to some endangered bird species, including the Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) and Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus) (Wudalianchi lies directly beneath the annual migration path of these birds). Of further relevance, Wudalianchi is located at the geographical centre of the WWF’s Amur/Heilongjiang River Basin project area.
Although classed as situated in the region of middle temperate continental monsoon climate, Wudalianchi is located between mountain and plain and so is jointly influenced by the cold, temperate humid climate of the Greater Xing’an Mountains and the temperate semi-humid, semi-arid climate of the Songnen Plain. The climate of Wudalianchi is harsh, with long and severe winters, and brief cool summers more typical of the cold temperate climates farther north. A measure of climatic severity is that the ground is frozen to a depth of up to 2.47m for 7 months of the year, and the annual average temperature is just 0.5°C.
Of most significance in understanding the importance of the ecology of Wudalianchi, is that the area lies in a climatic and ecological transitional zone. Here the flora in the frigid and temperate zones interweave in a complicated fashion. There are both Larix gmelinii, Sabina davurica from the cold temperate Greater Xing’an Mountains, growing side-by-side with Pinus koraiensi, Picea jezoensis Carr. var. microsperma, Acer mono, and Tilia amurensis from the temperate Lesser Xing’an Mountains - Changbai flora. The vegetation of the Wudalianchi area represents the interaction of each, providing a diversified natural environment, of extreme abundance and diversity in species, as well as diverse and unique communities, when compared with other areas located at approximately the same latitudes and same climates.Thus, Wudalianchi plays an important role in protecting biodiversity in Northeast Asia.
Due to the repeated volcanic eruptions over the last about 2.1 million years, the vegetation of Wudalianchi has been repeatedly destroyed and regenerated. This happened at least 7 times, the most recent occasion being the eruption of the Laoheishan and Huoshoashan volcanoes in 1719-21. This turbulent volcanic history has caused the development of some different ecosystems. The major ecosystem types are: lichen and moss ecosystem; meadow ecosystem; wetland ecosystem; aquatic ecosystem; shrub vegetation ecosystem; forest ecosystem.
The lichen and moss ecosystem is mainly distributed on Laoheishan Volcano, Huoshaoshan Volcano and Shilongite lava terrace. The lava out flowing from these craters is young in this area, and there has not been time for vegetation to substantially colonize. There is extensive bare rock surface, weak weathering, and the rain flows directly into the rocks via fissures. So this area is a harsh ecological environment. The tops and slopes of cones are composed of black, brown and red volcanic agglomerate, scoria, volcanic bombs and lapilli. The southeast foot of Laoheishan Volcano has an area of nearly 1km2 of sand deposits, formed from lapilli and volcanic ash. The ecosystem contains Parmelia spp, Lecidea albocoerulescens,Grimmia alpicola some lichen- moss vegetation, and mainly grows in volcanic debris of new period on shallow slopes and the Shilongite aa area. Artemisia sacrovum, Patrinia rupestris and Orostachys malacophyllus grow in weathered rock cracks, with some herbaceous plants, such as Potentilla asperrima, Pulsatilla dahurica. There are also Rubus sachalinensis and Sorbaria sorbifolia scatter throughout the rock cracks and rock pits, while Polytrichum jenesenii and Camptosorus sibricus, as well as fern plants are also well vegetated.
The meadow ecosystem is mainly distributed in wash land, first terrace and intermountain valley. Bottomland soil is meadow soil, and the herbaceous plants are dominated by synusia, including Deyeuxia angustifolia and Carex schmidtii accompanied by Sanguisorba parviflora, Lysimachia davurica, Anemone dichotoma, Lilium pumilum, Hemerocallis minor etc.
The wetland ecosystem is mainly distributed in low-lying and waterlogged places. The soil is wetland or peaty soil, vegetating Carex spp.. The Carex appendiculata, Carex meyeriana are dominant plants, accompanied by Caltha palustris, Eriophorum polystachion etc.
The aquatic ecosystem is open water of lake and wetland. There are various kinds of aquatic ecosystems in Wudalianchi defined by the plant communities. Potamogeton spp and Myriophyllum spicatum are dominant submerged plants, forming the submerged aquatic ecosystem; Lemna minor are floating plant species, forming the free-floating ecosystem; Nymphoides peltata and Nyphbar tetragona are dominant floating-leaved plants, forming the floating-leaved ecosystem; Typha latifolia and Phragmites communis are dominant emergent plants, forming the emergent plant ecosystem.
The shrub vegetation ecosystem is mainly distributed on plateaus with deep humus black soil. Corylus heterophylla is the single dominant plant, accompanied by Sanguisorba officinalis, Vicia cracca, Adenophora tatraphylla etc. There is Salix raddeana, Sambucus shrub synusia in the Shilong terrace fracture area, accompanied by lichen and xerophilous herbaceous plants. Meanwhile, there are also small numbers of Betula platyphylla, and Populus koreana xylophyta etc.
The most forest ecosystem vegetation is distributed on the shield-like terrace where there is good soil parent material, forming dark brown soils. These areas include dominant species such as Larix gmelinii, Quercus mongolica, Betula platyphylla, Populus davidiana and coniferous-broad-leaved mixed forest, deciduous broad-leaved forest types formed by companion plants. Generally speaking, the native coniferous-broad-leaved mixed forest is dominated by Pinus koraiensis, but the integrity of these has been compromised with the addition of Larix gmelinii deciduous conifer forests and Picea koraiensis, Phellodendron amurense, Fraxinus mandshurica etc. The bryophytes-larch forest is clearly visible on moist shady slope. In the sunny slope of hill, there are mainly Quercus mongolica composed deciduous broad-leaved forest accompanied by Betula davurica, Ulmus gaponica etc. However, Betula platyphylla, Populus davidiana broad-leaved forests grow in the shady slopes, accompanied by Tilia amurensis, Paris veriticillata, and Pteridium aquilinum, etc.