Mating in Eurasian lynxes

Mating in Eurasian lynxes and other questions in relation to that (such as pre-mating activity; life of kits, when their mothers go for mating; others) are quite poor investigated (e.g. Schmidt et al., 1997;  Schmidt, 1999; Jędrzejewski et al., 2002; Breitenmoser-Würsten et al., 2007; Samelius et al., 2012). The scarce information published on the question shows that these complicated mating-related actions in Eurasian lynxes are too simplified, while researchers mention about mating in lynxes. Let’s say there is evident gaps in the lynx-related literature on the species mating.

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How to distinguish tracks of wolves and dogs

Sometimes, it may be hard to differentiate tracks of the wolf and large domestic dog. Usually wolf footprints are bigger than those of dogs. Footprints left by wolves on a thin snow cover or loose ground are 8­–13 cm long and 6–9 cm wide, whereas in the conditions of a loose snow cover these dimensions may be slightly higher. Prints of wolf digital pads are symmetric and oval, whereas in dogs they are frequently wider in rear part than in the front part. Male wolf has wider footprints than those of female wolf. Ratio between length and width comprises about 1.3 in footprints of male wolves, and approximately 1.5 in those of female wolves. In wolf footprints all digital pads look more massive than those of dogs in relation to the interdigital pad, even of large ones, and the two central digital pads in wolf footprints are mostly placed in front of the lateral digital pads. However, in a big male wolf the later feature is not pronounced, and this may be used for rough distinguishing of males and females among adult wolves by their fore footprints. The central digital pads are also placed tighter to each other in wolf footprints than those of stray dogs.
However, these observations are not totally reliable. Nowadays, some big dogs have big paws and rather massive digital pads like those of wolves. Continue reading “How to distinguish tracks of wolves and dogs”

Scaring lynxes away from their kills by wolves

Recently I faced with the next fourth case of scaring lynxes away from their kills by wolves and decided to prepare this post about this curious way of the species interference. This fourth registered such a story was outstandingly rich on events and relatively well photo-documented, therefore, I will begin just with that story.

In the story the main acting persons were Els Lavrysen and Hans Van Loy, a couple of lynx amateurs from Belgium, who faced the case of scaring lynx family away from the roe deer carcass by two wolves in Naliboki Forest (the central-western part of Belarus). Continue reading “Scaring lynxes away from their kills by wolves”

Recently published book on the wolf reproduction biology

Together with Irina Rotenko we published a book about wolves in Belarus. There, we will address the questions of the species reproduction biology  that are still insufficiently investigated and full of contradicting hypotheses and knowledge. However, the main thing for us in doing this book is that being interested in studying these hidden part of wolf life, we would like to share the knowledge and skills we have gained on wolves in Belarus with wolf colleagues and amateurs. Continue reading “Recently published book on the wolf reproduction biology”

Visits of wolves in human settlements in Belarus with implication for wolf attacks of dogs

In Belarus, our study on the question of visiting of wolves in human settlements suggests that it regularly happens if wolves are present in surroundings of a human settlement.  That was common of what we faced frequently, by doing our study on wolves in the countryside of Belarus long-term during several decades. While inspecting frequently several model human settlements in 2006-2008 in Naliboki Forest and its surroundings, we registered that very small human settlements such as homesteads and hamlets, where only a few people live, were visited by wolves every 1-9 days, on average every 5 days; whereas villages with many inhabitants were visited by wolves less often every 4-21 days, on average every 8 days. During such visits, small human settlements (having approximately up to 40 inhabitants) were usually crossed by wolves along one of the streets, while villages were mainly inspected by wolves at their boundaries or slightly entering in the village.  All these visits of human settlements by wolves happened at nights.  Only remote single houses were sometimes visited by wolves in the daytime. As to seasonality, wolves come to human settlements year-round, but markedly less in the denning period (May-July) and more frequently during winter particularly from the mid-January till the mid-March. Continue reading “Visits of wolves in human settlements in Belarus with implication for wolf attacks of dogs”

Information on the hybridization of wolves and stray dogs in Belarus

Doing study on population ecology of wolves, we faced with the phenomenon of hybridization beetwen wolf and domestic (actually stray) dog. Such hybridization of wolves and  dogs is a question worthwhile to consider in the aspect of the wolf reproduction biology. Firstly, it relates to breeding of wolves; secondly, such a hybridization may be considered as the extreme effort of the last wolf individuals to maintain the declined population with such an abnormal reproduction.

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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”