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. : 127-128.


D.I. Bibikov*, V.I. Mashkin**

* Severtsov' IPEE RAS, Moscow
** Prof. Zhitkov' VNIOZ, Kirov, Russia

Fluctuating conditions in nest chambers (hibernaculums) in marmot winter burrows have been yet studied insufficiently, as well as marmot state during hibernation and surviving,as depended on sex, age, origin and rank. In annual cycle of marmots above ground activity takes 1/2-1/3 part, the hibernation takes the rest time. Behaviour and ecophysiology of animals in hibernaculums are studied rather poorly and mainly in experimental conditions. Research in natural conditions, started by V.Arnold and colleagues (Arnold, 1988) clarifies the conditions of change from sleeping to torpor of animals of different energetic status.

Marmot hibernation evolves along three directions: 1) hibernation of single animal - M. monax; 2) in groups in conditions of various types of polygamy - M. flaviventris; 3) in groups, mainly in monogamous families - all other species. Some details and specificity of reproduction strategy concerning hibernation are studied only in M. marmota.

Proposed program for study of hibernation and diverse adaptations to it is aimed to the marmots of the third group, which are considered monogamous.

I. 1. Microclimate in living burrow and ecophysiology of marmots. Factors inside the hibernaculum should be considered: temperature of air (of substratum in the wall of the hibernaculum at different levels, under the bedding, in the bedding, in the burrow tunnel inwards the plug behind slide; humidity (in hibernaculum, in bedding ...), as well as gas composition of air in hibernaculum.
2. Determination of dynamics of ecologo-physiological parameters in marked marmots during hibernation. Rate of observations: at least monthly, every decade and more often is preferable. The following parameters should be studied in animals: body temperature in two zones (neck and genitals), rate of beating of the heart, rate of breath and duration of inhalation and exhalation, prothrombin index... In addition, it would be fine to study effect of intensity of illumination to movement activity, reproduction, preparation to hibernation and end of hibernation, as well as probable role of atmosphere pressure.
II. 1. Choice of a burrow and access to winter chamber. In the last month of activity a burrow is picked out, where the animals are preparing to hibernation. We should avoid burrows on a slope over 10-15 deg., otherwise it would be difficult to put prospecting pit to the hibernaculum chamber. Before final leaving to hibernaculum all the family members should be trapped and put into separate cages to fix on them sensors. The animals should be marked and measured. If no footprints are observed, dig up the burrow to get to winter nest, first trying with the help of a rigid wire and putting prospecting pits 0.5 m apart of the wall of the tunnel, which leads to the winter chamber. When approaching the nest (the hooks will bring a bedding with fur), full digging up of prospecting pit is reasonable in a way parallel the tunnel towards the nest.
2. Equipping a marmot: marking, taking morpho-physiological characters, implanting sensors. Study of hierarchic and family relations is carried out before "equipping" the burrow, but mainly after arousal of marmots in spring and then in summer.
3. Equipping the burrow. The nest is reached from the prospecting pit or cellar. Ceiling with 2-3 wooden hatches with a layer of isolating and easily assembling materials. The automatic recorder and other equipment is set in the middle compartment (?). The equipment is determined by a ratio of remote and wire measuring instruments, energy supply (temporary or regular), rate of sampling, etc. Remote devices and energy suppliers are situated in cellar.

The work by the same methods and following the same program should be done at least in two different landscapes: zonal steppe and mountain meadow-steppe in Tien Shan (2200 m). Further we plan to discuss content of possible work in the field of parasitology and epizootology.

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