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China, Russia wind up exploration on border mountain
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Chinese and Russian scientists have accomplished a field research at the border mountain of Altai after over three years of hard work, which led to findings of new plant species.

Six botanists from Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAC) and Russian State University of Altai carried out four field expeditions since the joint exploration was launched in 2004 with the approval of the National Natural Science Foundation (NNSF) of China.

After traveling across the low-laying and highland areas, river valleys and Siberian plains of the Altai Mountain, which borders China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Russia's Siberia region, scientists discovered some 22 species that had never been discovered in China and eight others never seen in Russia among a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of plant specimen.

Before the joint investigation, only a Chinese scientist from CAC organized a field trip on the mountain within the Chinese territory in 1955, but the mountain remained rather unacquainted to many researchers in the past 50 years.

The latest joint expedition, the first and largest of its kind in terms of scale and duration, will help to find out the overall plant resources in the mountain area and facilitate joint biological protection and future developing efforts, officials with NNSF said.

Altai, also known as Golden Mountains, winds its way through China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia for over 2,000 kilometers, boasting more than 2,000 plant species, including 212 endemic and 17 endangered. The mountain range is also an important habitat for rare and endangered animal species such as the snow leopard.

(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2007)

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