Breeding story of one model wolf pack leading by Torn Ear dominant female in Naliboki Forest: exceptional or routine?

Coauthor Irina Rotenko

Concerning the wolf Canis lupus  breeding in Europe and wider in Eurasia there is a widely spread belief that the species is strictly monogamous with a certain way of  breeding and pack formation in family pattern (e.g. Bibikov D.I., 1985 and references therein; Jędrzejewska & Jędrzejewski, 1998).  

Those beliefs suggested the three following theses: first,  during breeding season, a wolf pack has merely one litter or there are no pups; second, usually a wolf pack consists of parent wolves and their pups of the current and previous biological years as a normal maximum; additionally, such a pack may subordinate some non-relative wolves; and third, usually offspring disperse from their maternal pack around mating season, in the second year of their life, when they are 20-22 months old.

Continue reading “Breeding story of one model wolf pack leading by Torn Ear dominant female in Naliboki Forest: exceptional or routine?”

The book on the wolf reproduction biology. Second edition.

Together with Irina Rotenko we recently published the second edition of the book on the wolf Canis lupus reproduction biology, which was based on the data gained in Belarus. There, we address the questions of the species mating, denning and raising of pups as well as mortality in wolf pups, which are still insufficiently investigated and full of contradicting hypotheses and knowledge. Therefore, the subtitle is “common beliefs versus reality”. However, the main thing for us in doing this book is to share the knowledge and skills we have gained on wolves in Belarus with wolf colleagues and amateurs.

In the second edition of the book we advanced all the former chapters basing on the results of the intensive study of wolf reproduction during spring-summer of 2018 and 2019 in Naliboki Forest. Also, we added one more chapter about the revealed trends in the denning behaviour of wolves in connection with the changes in the vertebrate community in Naliboki Forest.

Continue reading “The book on the wolf reproduction biology. Second edition.”

The next step in the change of wolf denning habitats in connection with further increase in red deer and bison numbers in Naliboki Forest

In June of 2018 there was post “Trends in the denning behaviour of the wolf and lynx in connection with the changes in the vertebrate community in Naliboki Forest (north-western Belarus)”,  in which I described the changes in the denning behaviour of wolves and lynxes in connection with the population growth of the lynx, red deer, bison, and recovering of the badger population in the 2010s.  It was shown that wolves with their prevailing of an open denning appeared in the hard situation to reproduce despite of the extra breeding efforts, first of all, with a pack multi-breeding.

Continue reading “The next step in the change of wolf denning habitats in connection with further increase in red deer and bison numbers in Naliboki Forest”

Climbing trees by Eurasian lynxes to emit territorial and mating calls in Belarus: pressing questions and knowledge up-to-date

Another important role of trees in the life of lynxes is usage of elevated positions in tall trees to emit territorial and mating calls. During the winter of 2017-2018 in Naliboki Forest, the central-western part of Belarus we have found that lynxes climbed rather high Scotch pine trees (Sidorovich et al., 2018). In total, during February and March 2018, we registered four such trees, on which adult male lynxes climbed for about 17-26 meters high. The density of the local lynx population was very high about 4-5 inds per 100 square km i.e. about 80 lynxes per almost 2000 square km. We have evaluated that phenomenon of calling by lynxes from a tall tree top as a mating call, also taking into account that it was registered in the lynx mating season (mid-February-early April).

Then in Naliboki Forest in July 2018 we faced with several fresh climbing a tall pine presumably by adult female lynx (that was mother with two kittens), because the tree was in the core area, where this mother lynx with two kittens were staying most of the time.

Continue reading “Climbing trees by Eurasian lynxes to emit territorial and mating calls in Belarus: pressing questions and knowledge up-to-date”

Abandoned log piles as habitat spots that are important for lynx families

Quite often clearcuts in Naliboki Forest are full of logging remains. Moreover, sometimes loggers forget one or several piles of logs and they stay there for decades. It is always like a gift for lynxes, particularly the species families. The main  benefit of lynx family is that mother may leave small kittens there, and they will be safe alone in the emptiness under the logs, when the mother goes for hunting. It is especially essential, because  lynxes frequently use a long-lasting hunting from ambuscades, so, kittens need to wait for the mother quite long.

Continue reading “Abandoned log piles as habitat spots that are important for lynx families”

Two wolf litters, two breeding females, founding male and two pup-sitters on a camera-trap in Naliboki Forest

This post gives the documentation by a camera-trap of two different  litters (10 pups altogether), two breeding females of the same wolf pack, the founding male and two pup-sitters in Naliboki Forest. The last feature is particularly essential. One or two pup-sitters were present at pups on about 60% of the hundreds of photos taken. It looks like we have registered the features of another trend in the wolf denning behavior that we haven’t faced with before the lynx got common. That is when breeding wolves use pup-sitters to save their pups from the lynx aggression (see another post for other details), when they go for hunting.

Continue reading “Two wolf litters, two breeding females, founding male and two pup-sitters on a camera-trap in Naliboki Forest”

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.

Continue reading “Mating in Eurasian lynxes”

Where do births and raising early days kittens in lynxes take place? When do lynxes give birth in Belarus?

The common belief of the lynx-related zoologists is that parturition in lynxes takes place in a thicket somewhere under treefall. Sometimes, it really happens. However, during twenty years of searching for wolf dens in Paazierre Forest and Naliboki Forest in Belarus in April-June in 1997-2017 I have found more than one thousand of wolf dens (mostly without pups, former ones etc) under treefalls and other vegetation thickets (mainly young spruce ones), but only a few lynx denning sites (easily recognisable by presence of lynx hair) have been found under treefalls.
Continue reading “Where do births and raising early days kittens in lynxes take place? When do lynxes give birth in Belarus?”

Wolf breeding peculiarities

In Europe and wider in Eurasia between wolf researchers and in the circle of other wolf-related people (e.g. hunters specialising in killing wolves, wolf pup searches) there is a widely spread belief on wolf reproduction that wolves are strictly monogamous species with a certain way of breeding and family pattern of pack formation. Actually, in my study in Belarus since the late 1990s there have been found so many abnormalities in those, that I start to think about what actually prevails in the wolf reproduction and packing: the “rules” or “exceptions”. Such “abnormalities” occurring too often are a very interesting phenomenon and they need to be further investigated.  Continue reading “Wolf breeding peculiarities”