The causes of long-term decline in the polecat population in Belarus

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.

Continue reading “The causes of long-term decline in the polecat population in Belarus”

Interference between the badger and raccoon dog in Belarus

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.

Continue reading “Interference between the badger and raccoon dog in Belarus”

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”

Findings on the interference between wolves and lynxes 

aReading literature and talking with wolf and lynx researchers, it becomes evident that interference between the two species is actually poorly studied. Some mammalogists tend to assume that wolves suppress the lynx population. Some even suggest details of the aggressive behaviour of wolves towards lynxes: strong wolf packs attack lynx family groups and kill kits during lynx mating season when the kits stay alone or disperse. Seemingly, such stories are only speculative beliefs and ideas. Continue reading “Findings on the interference between wolves and lynxes “

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)”