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History of Research at Hövsgöl

Mongolian & Soviet/Russian Studies 1970-1990

The National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, in cooperation with the Soviet (and then Russian) Academy of Sciences, undertook several investigations of Lake Hövsgöl from 1970 through 1990 that were focused on climate, hydrology, ecology and economic resources. A compilation (in Russian) of this work was presented in Kozhova et. al. (1989). (See publications.)

Limnological and Biodiversity Surveys: 1995-1996

Clyde Goulden, an aquatic ecologist at The Academy of Natural Sciences, was introduced to Lake Hövsgöl in 1994. One year later, the Academy founded The Institute of Mongolian Biodiversity and Ecological Studies (IMBES) to support research at the lake; IMBES has now been replaced by the Asia Center.

That same year, a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the United States, Mongolia, Russia and Japan started a multi-year study of the lake's biodiversity, limnology and watershed. This research was funded largely through the National Science Foundation, which continues to regard this as one of its most successful international programs.

The results of this research is presented in The Geology, Biodiversity and Ecology of Lake Hövsgöl (Mongolia), which was published in 2006 by Backhuys Publishers BV (, ISBN 90-5782-162-1).

Hövsgöl National Park Improvements: 1999-2001

Hövsgöl National Park, which encompasses all of Lake Hövsgöl and its watershed, was established in 1992. From 1999-2001, USAID, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and IMBES worked to substantially improve the park by creating or upgrading the physical and technical infrastructure, which included building a visitor center, training park staff, increasing park revenues and improving park-community relations.

Establishing Hövsgöl LTERS: 1997-2001

Concern with environmental protection, sustainable economic development and climate change led the government established the Mongolian Long-Term Ecological Research Sites (LTERS) network in 1997. Already the subject of considerable study, Hövsgöl National Park became the first site in this network and was soon adopted into the East Asian network of International Long-Term Ecological Research Sites (ILTERS). (See

The primarily goal of the Hövsgöl LTERS is to study the long term ecological interactions of livestock herding and climate change with the watershed's taiga forests, steppes and waters. (See Hövsgöl Long-Range Research.)

Hovsgol GEF/WB Project: 2002-2006

Beginning in 2002, Global Environment Facility (GEF) became the primary sponsor of the Hövsgöl LTERS, and the program there was implemented by the World Bank. The project was managed by the Mongolian Academy of Science with institutional support from the National University of Mongolia, the Mongolian government, IMBES and the World Bank. Co-financing, as well as the contributions of supplies, equipment and expertise from other institutions and individual scientists in Japan, Norway, Taiwan, The Netherlands and the United States were significant.

The GEF/World Bank project produced the Hovsgol Ecology website ( Material from that website is maintained in the Hovsgol GEF/WB archive on this site.

PIRE Mongolia 2007-2012

Long Term Ecological Reseach at Hövsgöl continues with a new collaboration involving the Academy's Asia Center (formerly IMBES), the Department of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, the National University of Mongolia, the Mongolian University of Science and Technology and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The project is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE).

PIRE Mongolia will build upon the work of the GEF/World Bank project's investigation of the interactions of grazing and climate change. In addition to continuing and expanding the long-term monitoring of climate, permafrost, streams and herder landuse in the six eastern shore tributary valleys, the project will start four new programs:

  • Impacts of increased atmospheric temperature and livestock grazing on plant communities and soil processes
  • Tree-ring isotope reconstructions of larch (Larix sibirica) physiological response to increased temperatures and CO2 enrichment
  • Below-ground carbon stock assesments for taiga and steppe ecosystems.
  • Ecological modeling of steppes and taiga as alternate stable states.

Dr. Peter Petraitis of the University of Pennsylvania is the senior Principal Investigator for PIRE Mongolia. More information on this project can be found at the PIRE Mongolia website (

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