Broadleaved deciduous oldgrowth in Naliboki Forest and the main predator-prey relationships in its community of vertebrates

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Since the early 1980s, I have spent much time in Naliboki Forest. Mostly doing the study on vertebrate predators, I always snatched an opportunity to visit the remains of the primeval forest, where trees saw axe and saw rarely and where some of the trees still remembered the Middle Age time. Such pristine forest magnetized so much.

In this terrain broad-leaved deciduous forest older than 100 years (i.e. real broad-leaved deciduous oldgrowth) survived on a very small part of Naliboki Forest only – 0.3% (it is about 6 km2). Nevertheless, in Belarus and other neighbouring regions there are actually a few forest massive, where such centuries-old forest plots still exist, and, so,  Naliboki Forest is one of them. In these oldgrowth patches the oldest oak trees, which grow on the distance of 15-60 meters apart, have an age of 200-400 years. In the oldest tree stands the mean oak age constituted 326 years old according to 14 estimates. Also, in the deciduous broad-leaved oldgrowth there are old maples, limes and ashes  (but ashes die in numbers nowadays). Continue reading “Broadleaved deciduous oldgrowth in Naliboki Forest and the main predator-prey relationships in its community of vertebrates”

Benefit of semiaquatic mustelids from beaver construction activity in Belarus and the method to census aquatic prey

Having pronounced construction instinct and activity, beavers change a lot their aquatic habitats in order to provide foraging pathways protected by water environment and create effective shelters saving them from enemies (mainly wolves and humans) and cold weather during overwintering, giving birth and raising a litter as well as  everyday resting.
With respect to semiaquatic mustelids i.e. otter and mink, a question arises do these changes in aquatic habitats bring benefit for them or not?  Beavers build a lot of shelters in kinds of burrows and lodges, and such a benefit of better sheltering environment for otter and mink is evident. While investigating the question, we were mainly interested in beaver activity-related increase of water-dwelling prey of otter and mink in aquatic ecosystems and, first of all, in small streams such as small rivers, brooks and drainage canals. Just at small watercourses such an effect of damming by beavers on semiaquatic mustelids may be the most pronounced. By building dams, beavers create ponds; such ponds are gradually eutrophicated and densely overgrown with macrophytes. So, it was essential to get know, such beaver ponds bring benefit in aquatic prey supply for semiaquatic mustelids or not, and if it is,  on which stage of the pond eutrophication such benefit is the highest.

Continue reading “Benefit of semiaquatic mustelids from beaver construction activity in Belarus and the method to census aquatic prey”

Mortality in wolf pups

The main monograph on the grey wolf by Mech and Boitani (2003), which still provides the basic and unequalled knowledge on the species biology, informed the following. “Almost 30 years ago, Keith (1974) concluded that “the factors which provide wolf pup mortality during the first 5 months are almost wholly unknown. This is probably the single greatest enigma in wolf biology today.” Though some strides have been made toward identifying these factors, this is still a much-needed area of research.”

While reading this in 2004, we already were much aimed at the question. Moreover, the opportunity to find out something really new in the wolf biology accelerated these our research efforts. Nowadays, we may say that, at least,  for the region of Belarus mortality in wolf pups is known more or less. Also, we assume that the factors, which impact the survival of wolf pups in Belarus, act in other regions of European forest zone. At the same time, we suppose that the only main causes of wolf pup mortality were found out, whereas many smaller questions remained without answers still.

Continue reading “Mortality in wolf pups”

Early denning behaviour and raising of pups after weaning in wolves

I would like to share our knowledge on the early denning behaviour and raising pups after weaning in wolves basing on the information that was gained in Belarus mostly in Naliboki Forest and Paazierre Forest.

The information is divided into three items:

  1. Early denning behaviour in wolves
  2. Raising of pups after weaning
  3. Some behavioral traits of wolf-stray dog pairs at denning and raising pups

Continue reading “Early denning behaviour and raising of pups after weaning in wolves”

Distribution patterns and habitat combinations inhabited by lynx in Belarus

Planning to write a book about the lynx in Belarus, we first of all aimed to investigate aspects of the species’ population ecology which were insufficiently studied across its range. At the same time, we want to present the main regional characters of lynx ecology in the main types of habitat combinations related to soil, climate and relief: diet and distribution patterns. Continue reading “Distribution patterns and habitat combinations inhabited by lynx in Belarus”

Findings on the interference between wolves and lynxes 

Reading literature and talking with wolf and lynx researchers, it becomes evident that interference between the two species is actually poorly studied. Some mammalogists tend to assume that wolves suppress the lynx population. Some even suggest details of the aggressive behaviour of wolves towards lynxes: strong wolf packs attack lynx family groups and kill kits during lynx mating season when the kits stay alone or disperse. Seemingly, such stories are only speculative beliefs and ideas. Continue reading “Findings on the interference between wolves and lynxes “