Historically, the badger was fairly common species in Naliboki Forest that is in the north-western part of Belarus. Besides the respective information that was obtained from the locals (e.g. Baliaslaw Sadowski, Lianard Jurevich, Edzik Khmara), who lived and was familiar with the forest in the 1930s-1960s, also presence of numerous former badger setts suggests about the commonness of badgers. Approximatelly, the density of main setts, where badger families lived before, was not lower than 15 per 100 km2 in the most ecologically rich southern part of Naliboki Forest and about 4 per 100 km2 in the central and central-northern parts of the terrain, where habitat carrying capacity for badgers is markedly lower. It means that the former density in more or less undisturbed badger population in Naliboki Forest ranged approximately between 20 and 120 individuals per 100 km2 in relation to the habitat carrying capacity of the terrain.Continue reading “Recovering of the badger local population in Naliboki Forest, NW Belarus in connection with winter warming and predation of lynxes and wolves”
While observing and censusing raptors in Naliboki Forest, it was an outstandingly high species diversity of diurnal raptors and owls. Here is a possible explanation of this phenomenon.Continue reading “Outstandingly high species diversity of raptors (diurnal raptors and owls) in Naliboki Forest”
Till the 1960s Naliboki Forest, which is situated in the north-western Belarus, was a greatly swamped terrain, where on the area about two thousands km2 swamps of various types and sizes were interspersed with dry land forests the terrain-wide. Open grassy marshes constituted about 19% of the terrain. Approximately a third part of the forest habitats that covered about 76% of the area were swamped too (Sidorovich, 2016). Such a swamped forest was either in kinds of black alder and downy birch mixture (with prevalence of one of the species) or that was raised bogs with suppressed or normal pines. Continue reading “Dramatic situation in the beaver population in Naliboki Forest in relation to hotter and drier summers nowadays”
Every time rereading the excellent wolf monograph by Mech and Boitani (2003), in particular, the item about wolf communication by Harrington and Asa, I was surprised to find out how rich voice-communication of wolves in North America and somewhere else can be. In my study areas in Belarus (look like in the whole country) I can characterize wolves as non-howling let’s say silent. More and more I become convinced that wolves in Belarus avoid to produce any loud noise.
Population decline of carnivore species may happen suddenly, develop rather fast and proceed short-term. For instance, such demise character was known for the European mink in Belarus and Russia (Macdonald et al., 2002; Sidorovich, 2011). Population decline of other carnivore species may pass gradually and less evident, and a considerable decrease in population density may take many more years.
The situation that is characterized by gradual and long-term decline is fairly hard to notice, while manipulating short-term data only. It takes much time to establish a right hypothesis on the decline and to prove the hypothesis. Usually, in such a case, when a population decline appeared to be evident, it is already too late to get a complete dataset to analyze the declining process and to reveal the factors that impacted the population. The polecat Mustela putorius population decline in Belarus was characterized by the mentioned features of gradual and long-term decline (see Sidorovich, 2011). Our results of the study on the polecat demise suggest the following negative factors that are responsible for the population decline.
A year ago, while publishing the book about badgers and raccoon dogs in Belarus (“Badger and Raccoon dog in Belarus: Population studies with implication for the decline in badgers“, Minsk, 2017), it looked like we knew all possible ways of interference between raccoon dogs and badgers. We registered blocking badgers sleeping in the sett’s hibernating chamber by raccoon dogs with suffocating of the badgers afterwards; killing of badger cubs by raccoon dogs; non-effective attacks of badger on raccoon dog at its sett as well as a lot of marking of badger setts by both species in order to prevent usage of the sett by the burrow-competitor species. Any attack of an active badger by raccoon dogs was not registered, and that was considered as something non-real.
In one of our study area on the question, which is the Lovat terrain in Paazierre Forestin northern Belarus, both riparian vole species (the water vole Arvicola terrestris and root vole Microtus oeconomus) have become scarce since the American mink Neovison vison has established a dense population. Continue reading “Impact of American minks on water vole and root vole populations and populations of the aboriginal predators – eaters of these beneficial prey, in particular, the stoat and great grey owl”