Recovering of the badger local population in Naliboki Forest, NW Belarus in connection with winter warming and predation of lynxes and wolves

Historically, the badger was fairly common species in Naliboki Forest that is in the north-western part of Belarus. Besides the respective  information that was obtained from the locals (e.g. Baliaslaw Sadowski, Lianard Jurevich, Edzik Khmara), who lived and was familiar with the forest in the 1930s-1960s, also presence of numerous former badger setts suggests about the commonness of badgers. Approximatelly, the density of main setts, where badger families lived before, was not lower than 15 per 100 km2 in the most ecologically rich southern part of Naliboki Forest and about 4 per 100 km2 in the central and central-northern parts of the terrain, where habitat carrying capacity for badgers is markedly  lower. It means that the former density in more or less undisturbed badger population in Naliboki Forest ranged approximately between 20 and 120 individuals per 100 km2 in relation to the habitat  carrying capacity of the terrain.

Continue reading “Recovering of the badger local population in Naliboki Forest, NW Belarus in connection with winter warming and predation of lynxes and wolves”

Rapid decline in the local population of lynx in Naliboki Forest, NW Belarus: density-dependent regulation or disease?

First, briefly about history of lynxes in Naliboki Forest during several last decades. In the early and mid-1990’s, after the Soviet Union crash, perhaps in conditions of relatively weak nature protection, the majority of lynxes were poached in Naliboki Forest. In the 1980’s there was a dense lynx population in the terrain, but by the late 1990’s lynxes occurred sporadically there. In the early 2000’s lynxes began recolonizing Naliboki Forest. The severe snow conditions in the late winter and early spring of 2013 seemed to impact lynxes negatively, and the local lynx population number dropped from 35 to 22 the next winter. Indeed, during the spring of 2013, as far as we learned, local forestry workers and antler searchers found at least three lynx carcasses. All of them seemed to be subadults or kittens, because they looked relatively small.

Continue reading “Rapid decline in the local population of lynx in Naliboki Forest, NW Belarus: density-dependent regulation or disease?”

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”

Impact of American minks on water vole and root vole populations and populations of the aboriginal predators – eaters of these beneficial prey, in particular, the stoat and great grey owl

In one of our study area on the question, which is the Lovat terrain in Paazierre Forestin northern Belarus,  both riparian vole species (the water vole Arvicola terrestris and root vole Microtus oeconomus) have become scarce since the American mink Neovison vison  has established a dense population. Continue reading “Impact of American minks on water vole and root vole populations and populations of the aboriginal predators – eaters of these beneficial prey, in particular, the stoat and great grey owl”