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”
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.
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”
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.
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.
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 two items: the first item is early denning behaviour in wolves; and the second one is raising of pups after weaning.
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”