Russia : Animal and Plants

Grains are among Russia's most valuable crops, occupying more than 50 % of cropland. Wheat is dominant in most grain-producing areas. Winter wheat is cultivated in the North Caucasus and spring wheat in the Don Basin, in the middle Volga region, and in southwestern Siberia. Although Khrushchev expanded the cultivation of corn for farm animal feed, that crop is only suitable for growth in the North Caucasus, and production levels have remained low compared with other grains. Barley, second to wheat in gross yield, is grown mainly for animal feed and beer production in colder regions as far north as 65° north latitude and well into the highlands of southern Siberia. Production of oats, which once ranked third among Russia's grains, has declined as machines have replaced horses in farming operations.

Animal life is extensive and varied throughout Russia. The tundra, which spans the Arctic and northern Pacific coasts and encompasses Russia’s offshore Arctic islands, is home to polar bears, seals, walruses, arctic foxes, lemmings, reindeer, and arctic hares. Birdlife includes white partridges, snowy owls, gulls, and loons. Geese, swans, and ducks migrate into the region during summer, a time when huge swarms of mosquitoes, gnats, and other insects emerge. South of the tundra, the taiga is a habitat for elks, brown bears, lynx, sables, and a mixture of forest birds, including owls and nightingales. Muskrats and squirrels are now the main source of pelts trapped in the wild. The broad-leaved forests of the Great European and West Siberian plains contain boars, deer, wolves,foxes, and minks. There are also a mixture of birds, snakes, lizards, and tortoises.

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