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South Korean Asilid Ecology

Within the past fifty years, South Korea’s natural environment has experienced a transformation from a completely denuded landscape to one of widespread secondary growth forests and vast agricultural tracts. Prior to the Korean War (1950-1953), nationwide deforestation occurred as a result of unmanaged human consumption of trees for heating fuel, as well as Japanese colonial and Russian concession logging practices (Korean Ministry of Forests, 1994). After the partitioning of North and South Korea, South Korea began vigorous reforestation programs during the 1970’s to combat soil erosion (Gibbons, 2003). As a result, much of South Korea’s mountainous terrain is now covered with forests similar to types found in the eastern and western United States.

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Images of a denuded landscape: Korea in the early 1900s with barren, treelesss hills.

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Before and after effects of South Korean President Park Chun Hee's reforestation program in the 1970s

Stream erosion on diverse geologic material has been the major cause of the present relief of Korea. In the interior, some rivers have been deeply entrenched in winding valleys, but in their courses these rivers have extensive plains on which they deposit material during floods. The whole pattern of land forms has some amount of similarity to that of Japan, although the plains are a little smaller. Unlike Japan, Kora has few volcanoes and little volcanic activity.

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Korea is first and foremost a land of mountains.  . . . Nearly 70 percent of the land surface is steep and mountainous, even though the highest mountains are rarely more than 2, 000 meters above sea level. None of the mountains are high enough to be permanently snow-capped, and the fraction of the landmass more than 1,000 above sea level takes up only about 15 percent of the country. . . Steepness of the slopes rather than the height o the mountains formed the notable Korean landscape of small basins in the midst of sharp peaks (Lee and Jin 2002).

 

The most notable of the mountain ranges, the Taebaek Range, runs north-south terminating in the south at Chiri-San National Park.

 

The mountain ranges slope down towards the south, thus making the southwestern part of the country fairly level and the northern part mountainous or hilly.  . . . These ranges drop steeply into the East Sea and represent the uplift rim of the continent. There is just a narrow coastal fringe sometimes 10 to 20 kilometers wide . . .  (Lee and Jin 2002).

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Korea is located on a peninsula situated between the largest continent and the largest ocean in the world. These special circumstances have contributed to the unique features of the climate and vegetation of Korea. Forest vegetation zones of the Korean peninsula can be divided into warm temperate,  cool temperate and frigid zones. The cool temperate forest zone is further divided into three subzones: northern, central, and southern. Both relief and distance to the ocean influence climate, so regional climates throughout the peninsula are specific to the regional geography and topography (Lee and Jin 2002).

South Korea, being on the same latitude as New England, experiences similar seasonal and climate conditions: a cool, warming spring, hot humid summers, a chilling fall, and frigid winters.

South Korea's present natural and rural vegetation pattern is secondary mixed oak (Quercus spp.) and Pine (Pinus spp.) forests in the uplands, and predominantly  patchy pine in the lower regions. 

 

[Lee, Dowon, and Jin, Virginia, eds. 2002. Ecology of Korea. Seoul, VIII INTERCOL International Congress of Ecology, Seoul, Korea. Bumwoo Pub. Co.]

South Korean Asilid Hotspots

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Major Asilid collecting sites: 1. Pyongsanbando National Park. 2. Naejansan National Park. 3. Chirisan National Park. 4. East Coast, Taejin Beach. 5. Odaesan National Park. 6. Chuncheon.

Korean Burial Mound Areas: Unique Micro-habitats

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Unique elements on the Korean landscape are the age old Confucian Tumuli, or burial mound patches, dotting rural hillsides country-wide. These small patches are pruned once a year during the Asian Chusok holiday when Confucian ceremonial respects to ancestors are observed. 

The Tumuli of Korea offer rich asilid habitats as they are often patches of overgrown herb and shrub layer, surrounded by sparse pine forests. The clearings offer asilids hunting perches amidst prey-rich grasses, out of the denser cover of the tree canopy and shade. The asilid collector will encounter multiple species within one such patch, in such dense conditions as to observe cannibalism. 

Primarily, these tumuli areas are breaks in the surrounding tree canopy where asilids find rich hunting grounds. 

Information on South Korea's asilid habitats and species/micro-habitats posting soon

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