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.

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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 by 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 remain unresolved.

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What is the cause of the badger population decline in Belarus? 

Within the analysis of vertebrate predator-prey community we carried out the population studies on the badger Meles meles  and raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides with implication for the strong decline in badgers even in seminatural terrains in Belarus. Continue reading “What is the cause of the badger population decline in Belarus? “

Investigation on the lynx population biology (general information)

Since the early 2000s I have paid more and more research attention to the lynx Lynx lynx. At that time there were not much known about the species in Belarus. Thus for the beginning I raised only regionally important questions of the lynx ecology, which had been investigated in other parts of the species range, but seemingly they are not entirely answered still somewhere as well as in Belarus. Among  the basic ecological questions I considered the most common ones such as the  species population number and habitat carrying capacity, distribution of lynxes in its between-year and seasonal changes, home range and its structure,  prey supply and  foraging, diet in its between-year and seasonal changes, lynx predation impact on the prey populations, reproduction rate and mortality causes. Continue reading “Investigation on the lynx population biology (general information)”

Investigation of the wolf population biology (general information)

Since 1999 I have shifted own efforts on the study on the wolf Canis lupus population ecology.  In 1996-1998 in Paazierre Forest (mainly in the Lovat terrain), the northern Belarus  there were fulfilled studies on the wolf diet in relation to the dramatic changes in the preystock and on breeding in wolves. The research on the question of the species breeding had been continued there until 2005.  However,  since 2000 the main study area on wolves has been replaced in Naliboki Forest and its rural-forest surroundings.  The species reproduction and breeding behaviour have become the main pressing questions of my zoological study. Continue reading “Investigation of the wolf population biology (general information)”

Reading mammal activity signs

Since my childhood I have been very interested in tracks of mammals and  in the entire variety of activity signs of mammals and birds on the whole.  Within this my passion I tried to push forward not only identifying of mammal activity signs, but their usage in track-based research methods on population ecology as well as to reconstruct correctly the respective behavior of mammals from their activity signs.  Continue reading “Reading mammal activity signs”