Holarctic Marmots as a factor of Biodiversity.
Rumiantsev V.Yu;, Nikol'skii A.A. & Brandler O.V. eds.,
Abstracts, 3d Conference on Marmots (Cheboksary, Russia, 25-30 August 1997),
Moscow ABF 1997, 216p.


N.A. Barmin, A.V. Griko

The Ogaryov' State University of Mordovia, Saransk, Russia

In May-August of 1996 we inspected south-eastern steppe areas in the Republic, not far from the place of bobac's release in 1985. We now submit new data on bobac's distribution. Their new habitat area is in the Dubyonsky region, in gully-ravine zone, 1.5 km north-east of the village (v.) Javleyka and along the valley slopes of the Lasha river, its right bank, to the north of v. Osipovka. There are 2 young families there that had migrated from the overpopulated settlements near vv. Cheberchino and Nickolaevka. The huntsman's dogs repeatedly attacked in spring those marmots that had gone 3-4 km deep from their main habitat area. In future the marmots are likely to move from this place in the direction of vv. Engalichevo and Kaybichevo where land patches unfit for cultivation are abundant and, probably, towards the adjacent Bolshebereznikovsky region. The original colony of reacclimatized marmots, that had settled down 3 km to the east of Cheberchino, along the slopes of "Palikha" ravine (near the state farm and orchard) and in "Marki" specific area, are freguently disturbed by dogs and men. The marmots are timid and careful at this habitat, they do not allow anyone to come up nearer than 80-100 m. Some speciman are leaving their habitat for the eastern areas near v. Purkaevo. Several separate burrows have appeared in "Marin" and "Mishanin" ravines near this village. No marmots have been disonvered so far to the south and south-east of v. Cheberchino, in the valley of the Cheherchinka river and along the slopes of "Izvestny" and "Romzinsky" ravines. Although there are abundant fit-for-living areas round the v."Krasnoye Poltso" (6 km north-east of the main habftat), no marmots were seen here. Inspection of the "Moiseev lug" (45 sq.km) and "Sokoliki" specific areas, of the valley of the river Kacherna,of the gully-ravine network along the brooks "Kamenny", "Studyony", "Kladbishensky" and in "Zerkalny", ravines gave no positive results. However, the appearance cf marmot settlements in those areas seems to be a matter of time. Incidentally, several new colonies were fcund 5 km west of Krasnoye Poltso v.: 2-3 families near the v.Livadka ("Pleten" ravine) and several inhabited burrows along the gullies and ravines round vv. Krasino and Petrovka (in the same region) - 1 or 2 families in each settlement. The marmot distribution may go in the direction of the villages Ardatovo and Morga (the Dubyonsky region).

Poachers and homeless dogs (among them some wolfhounds and beagles that had lost their hosts and run wild) do a lot of damage. The dogs chase and catch the martricts that moved off far away from their burrows. Rough landscape also helps them to lie in wait and attack the animals. There appeared a dangerous tendency of forming dogs' packs (7-9 dogs), in which young dogs imitate adult ones and pass on the acquired skills to some others that form new packs. The young families of marmots fall a prey to homeless dogs. Extermination of such dogs could lead to the decrease of wolf-dog hybrides that had grown in number of late, thus facilitating further spreading of marmots.

Despite some failures, the bobac's acclimatization may be considered as successful. Within the 12-year period of existence their number has increased by 1.5-2 times and totals to 300-320 pos. Some new settlements have appeared; the natural colonizing is going on successfully in the Dubyonsky region. Some animals have already appeared in Ruzaevsky und Lyambirsky reg., but their colonies are vulnerable and are in need of proper protection.

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