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.


J. Batbold
Faculty of Biology, National University of Mongolia, Mongolia

There are 2 species of marmot (Mongolian - Marmota sibirica and Altai - Marmota baibacina) in the territory of Mongolia. From them, tbe Mongolian marmot is a widespread and numerous species. The positive and negative significance of marmot to human community are very clear for our country, therefore problems of marmot conservation and liquidation always clash with each other. The author consider that it is very difficult to find a good way of management of marmots in Mongolia and must take into account the following 3 factors.

1. Marmots carry out very important role in some ecosystems of Mongolia. They live as keystone species in the steppe and mountain-steppe zones. They linked out with other species by alimental and nidicolous connection. In other words, when deciding marmot management the fact that marmots are very important species in our country ecosystem should not forgotten.

2. Marmots are very valuable animals (fur, food and materials for manufactories) for our economy and our people. Between 1906-1994, 104.2 million marmot skins (exept from 9 years which were not legible) were prepared in Mongolia (Batbold, 1996). It shows that for each year 1.3 million skins were prepared over the last 80 years. In other words, marmots are very useful for our people. This should not be left while considering management.

3. Marmots are main host of plague natural foci of Mongolia. It is their big negative side. There are 55.3 per cent of marmot distributed area and 63.2 per cent overall numbers of marmot in the zone of plague natural foci (Demberel, 1990). Human plague cases break out every year, its main reason is connected to the hunting on marmots only. Therefore one must account its negative influence on people health.

To find the very optimal variant of marmot management one must account mutual relations between above-mentioned factors. If the attention is paid only on one side of this question that it would cause damage. We have such history of marmot management and control on plague foci. I would say some examples which are connected to the factors.

a. The marmots were distinct on the big territory of Central Mongolia after their habitat was destroyed by work of bring new lands under the plough. Between 1940-1970 years marmot distribution area decreased 2 times and sowing area increased 7 times (Eregdendagva, 1972). The distinction of marmots influenced badly the ecosystem's structure and conditions. The species composition of the ecosystem has worsened.Lately, the number of pest rodents is increasing.

b. Marmot hunt is very useful for any Institution therefore overhunt was spread everywhere, especially in the later years. In the time of Socialism the Government had overplaned the collection of marmot skins. Before the plan was realized, since 1970s marmot abundance decrease had become apparent clearly observed in marmot populations which were located within area free from plague. Marmots completely disappeared in some areas. From other side, plague break out in humans was increased by marmot hunt increase.

c. Hunt on marmots was forbidden in places where human and animal plague cases were observed. In 1973, hunt on marmots was forbidden in 65 areas with plague of 20 sums (an administrative unit of Mongolia) and after 20 years (1992) it increased to 266 areas of 58 sums. In other words, the areas with plague grows up if the marmot hunt is forbidden. It influencies negatively on work of plague surveylance and decreases number of marmots in area free from plague.

I suggest that the following variant is very opitimal in marmot management.

The management policy on marmots should be very flexible. Not only conservation or only liquidation but it, must comprise different policies and activities within marmot dispersal area. I have considered that it is the most important to increase number of marmots in area free from plague and decrease or hunt more in plague foci zone. It will possible to realize above mentioned policy if 8-20 per cent of the abundance of marmot population in plague free area and 50-60 per cent of population in plague natural foci could be hunted. I consider that it is possible to stop the spread of plague infection in natural foci if the hunt could increase the intensification of general migration within marmot population, therefore a spot placed hunt is needed to be organized.

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