Steppe marmot

Status. View, the state is due to the measures taken or because of natural population trends is safe, but is not subject to industrial application and for its populations requires constant monitoring.

Distribution. At the beginning of XX century. was widely distributed in most of the steppe zone. The range extends from Podolia in the west to the left bank of the Irtysh in the east. By the middle of the last century due to plowing of virgin lands and unregulated fishing area was divided into separate isolated settlements that are confined to the "inconvenient" land and protected conservation areas. The largest populations are preserved in Saratov, Samara, Ulyanovsk, Voronezh, Lugansk, Kharkov, Rostov, Ural and Orenburg regions. Therefore marmot current interest as an important relict faunal assemblage old virgin steppes, who was one of the main members of biotsenozov.Chislennost. Data analysis of annual surveys by the Committee for Environmental Protection and Nature Saratov region, showed that at the present time in the Saratov region-dwelling groundhog marmot reliably recorded within the 26 districts. Most of the population (about 24,000 individuals) lives in the Right Bank: in Arkadak-Soviet, Atkarsk, market-Karabulak, Balashov, Baltayskom, Volsky, the Resurrection, Ekaterinovskiy, Kalinin, Red Army, Lu-sogorskom, Novoburasskogo, Petrovsky, Rtischevskom, Samoilovsky, Saratov , Tatishchev and Khvalynskoye areas. In the left-bank part of the habitat of marmots (numbering approximately 3000 individuals) were observed in the Ba-lakovskom, Dergachevsky, Ershov, Krasnopartizanskaya, Novouzensk, Ozinskom, Perelyubskom and Engels areas (Semikhatova, 2006). Extension of the area and increase its groundhog population in was due to conservation measures and systematically to his resettlement. Thus, at present the number of marmots in the Saratov region of approximately 27,000 individuals, and the state of the population as a whole can be described as stable.

According to surveys conducted in 2000 by the interval estimate of the numbers in the right-bank district of Saratov region ranges from 27.5 to 40.0 thousand individuals, and in the indigenous populations in the Resurrection, Volsky, Khvalynskoye areas inhabited by 17 to 27 thousand individuals, and in areas of re-introduction – from 9 to 16 thousand individuals (Kondratenkov et al, 2007). In recent decades, been an increase in the number of steppe marmot in the Saratov region (Kondratenkov et al, 2007). In our opinion the data counts are too high.

Limitations and security measures. In the study of the geographical and ecological marmot populations with different levels of human impact revealed differences in family, food, morphological and physiological terms, the nature of daily and seasonal activity, ethology. In settlements marmots on grain crops family structure is broken. It is dominated by solitary living individuals (63.6%). The number of juveniles in the family no more than three, and their settlement there. Sex ratio increases toward males in all age groups. Formed new settlements marmots on crops consist mainly of males age two. Yearlings in such settlements appear only after 2-3 years. Size of family plots reach 4 hectares. In settlements marmots intensive grazing reduces the number of juveniles in the family due to their death from the dogs, the number of solitary living males. Among the semi-mature and juveniles dominated by males. Size of family plots were 1.9-2.0 ha. In the study of interior signs in marmots that live in the desert and on crops, significant differences (t = 4.3) installed only along the cecum. This figure is higher in the animals that live on crops, which is associated with the transition to food crop plants.

Also revealed differences in the patterns of seasonal and daily activity of the steppe marmot. In settlements with intensive grazing occurs early morning out of rodent burrows (4 h), changes in the activity of the two-phase rhythm, late withdrawal in holes (22 hours). Change the term hibernation marmots living on crops (end of September). There are differences in the manifestation of orienting reactions in the research and feeding behavior of marmots in communities with different levels of human impact. In the study of acoustic signaling steppe marmot decreased acoustic activity in the settlements with intensive grazing and poaching. Installed situational change the sound of the hazard warning signal steppe marmot. Our studies suggest fixing consider environmental features at the population level and education in areas of anthropogenic better adapted populations of the steppe marmot (Semikhatova, Ka-rakulko, 1996; Semikhatova et al, 1997 b; Semikhatova, Puchkova, 2006).

Among the negative factors that reduce the number of include poaching, destruction of young stray dogs and birds of prey. The only serious enemy of marmots is golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), rarely other eagles – cemetery and steppe. Hunting for adults is usually unsuccessful, largely exterminated yearlings and young animals. The colonies of marmots, starting from the output of young to the surface, can be seen every year in the Saratov region letuyuschih non-breeding birds eagle (observations Oparin ML). Steppe marmot is listed in the Red Book of the Saratov region (Semikhatova, 1996; Semikhatova, 2006). Measures of protection should include: leaving deposits on inconvenient for agricultural land use in places of settlement marmots; qualified control its population to agricultural crops, improving the food supply of rodents by seeding grasses (alfalfa, clover, sainfoin). Also need to be fully taken into account the number of animals every 3-4 years, to strengthen anti-poaching and regulate sport hunting.

A brief description. Saratov-marmot marmot population live in areas of contact between the two subspecies (European and Kazakh), so asking them to Push the Annual membership is of undoubted interest. A study of a large number of specimens from the collection on craniometric grounds it was established that the right bank of the steppe marmot Saratov region significantly different from the nominate subspecies, and may be isolated in a separate subspecies – Volga Marmot (M. b. Kozlovi). The left bank of the Saratov marmot population lies between the western and eastern subspecies (Semikhatova, 1972). As a result of calorimetric studies found a slight color variation of the steppe marmot population studied. However, the right bank of the marmots are characterized by a light-colored fur compared to the left-bank (Semikhatova, Titkova, 1976).

In studying the sounds of the steppe marmot, warning of the danger, there were differences in duration signals. Lowest duration (190 ms – mean) signals characterized Baibakov of Wolski region Saratov region. Established populations of onnoe-difference spectral characteristics of signals marmots. In Baibakov of Wolski district the maximum frequency and the main signal energy is concentrated in the range of about 350-500 Hz, in the low-frequency component. In the signal from the marmots Ozinskogo district dominance frequency maximum amplitude occurs in the region 3-4 kHz and high frequency component in the spectrum (Semikhatova et al, 1997 a). In the study of the implementation of the biotic potential of the steppe marmot on craniological signs showed that the figure was more than realized in the animals of the Left Bank. This is due to more favorable habitat of marmots in these areas (Semikhatova, Galkina, 1990). In the karyotype of 38 chromosomes.

Habitats. Modern settlement of the steppe marmot northern N. Volga within the Saratov region are located in the right bank of the Volga Uplands within and in the eastern regions of the Left Bank at the spur of the General Syrt. Dissemination groundhog marmot-timed to preserved steppe areas and anthropogenic modification (boundary strips, field roads and roadsides, etc.) (Semikhatova, 1964).

Multi-year (1960-2006 gg.) Study of the effect of intensive economic activities in the area of the steppe marmot revealed the emergence of a rodent that many adaptations to life in the man-made landscapes. Changed the distribution of marmots in the region and its biotopical. Marmot habitat associated with uncomfortable for agricultural land use. There is a progressive increase in beam-type habitats. In settlements of this type butane marmots are unevenly distributed and extended chain along the steppe beams and the hills slope of 20 to 60 ° mostly southern, south-western and south-eastern exposure. Steppe marmots sometimes pushed to the unusual habitats and colonize them hills, covered with forest, but there burrows dug under the roots of trees are found on the edges, sometimes right in the forest of 10-30 m from the edge. In this forest, there are 60 colonies inhabited burrows (Khvalynsky, Volsky areas). Much less the settlement of marmots found on upland sites feather-grass-fescue virgin steppe bordering the grain crops. In some areas (Volsky, Resurrection, Ozinsky) after plowing virgin marmots for 7-10 years away from treated fields.

Some of the adaptation to human-induced changes marmots landscape is Baibakov settlement on the ruins of houses in the sites of former settlements (Khvalynsky, Volsky, Resurrection and other areas). The number of such settlements is up to 50 individuals and density of 13.6 birds / ha. In this colony, the marmots are on earth mounds on the site of the buildings, cellars and under the foundations of houses. In some areas (Volsky, Resurrection) marmot burrows found in the mounds left behind by the various excavation of ponds and old dams (Kalinin region). Nearby Hvalynsk marmots live at the edge of the developed Cretaceous quarry near heavy traffic.

Especially biology. Marmots live in burrows up to 7 families and more individuals. The maximum activity of adult marmots in the spring. Immediately after the release of the hole they are inactive and lethargic, spend on the surface no more than two hours. In April, marmots are active during the day. Most of the time they spend on feeding. Since late April, begins molting, which is completed only by the end of August. In May, activity increased to 12 hours, it has to peak at 13-15 hours, and in the morning (from 9 to 10 h) and evening (17-18 hours) experienced higher output intensity of rodent burrows. At the end of May – June Activity surochey colony increases rapidly due to the escape of a normal young surchat.

Size of the area depends on the family size and land and food resources sometimes reaches 2.5 ha. In marmot is not marked seasonal shift shelters, he lived for many generations in the same hole. The length of the stroke in the nesting burrow up to several tens of meters, depth is not less than 3.4 meters in underground shelters located 2.1 nesting chambers and a large number otnorkov, which are sometimes "restrooms." Entrance to a burrow usually begins funnel formed by the permanent use and burrow obsypaniya its walls. Input, usually inclined, vertical holes are rare. In nesting burrows is often 2-3 outputs, and the settlements of their great age increases to five. Emissions are around burrows of land – butane, or marmot, which reach 20 m in diameter and 0.5 m in height. The annual growth of butane is about 0.2-0.3 mj. These elevations marmots used as observation posts. The vegetation on the marmot is markedly different from the surrounding another few decades after marmots leave a hole. Established the formation of butane marmot comprehensive cover, which is a set of zoogenic ecotone sites in various stages of succession (Semikhatova, 1997). From this example it is very much visible soil-forming role in the steppe marmot Biogeocenoses (Semikhatova, Titkova, 1988).

On each socket hole has 5.2 time. They are located at 15-50 m from the nest hole and connected with her conspicuous trails width 17-20 cm Number of temporary increases in the normal places with rugged, low numbers of rodents and poor forage habitats. Marmots are very attached to their shelters and move away from them no further than 100-150 m marmot Reproduction begins in early spring (early March), still in a hole. First appearance on the surface surchat occurs in the first, and the mass in the last ten days of May, the yield of young coincides with the beginning of the rapid growing season. To get out of the hole surchata immediately to feeding green fodder. The number of pups ranges from 2 to 7, for the majority of habitats – an average of 4-5. During the summer litter size is greatly reduced, in some families, the young die completely.

Marmots reach sexual maturity in the third summer, at the age of two years. Settling young in spring, after hibernation. In June, daily activity is declining, and feeding time is reduced. In July, down and stay on the surface of the well-fed adults. In August and early September, the activity is minimal. Hibernation begins in September. In winter clog marmots burrow dense "mirrors" of the earth and lumps of grass stems. The duration of the active period in Baibakov is about 150 days (Semikhatova, 1968 a).

Conducted ethological observations indicate high levels of behavioral organization in the steppe marmot (Semikhatova, Pylaeva, 1989). There are seasonal changes in the basic behaviors (food, rest, tentative, playing). In April – June, the most time spent on feeding animals (up to 58.1% of the time out of the hole). In between feeding animals rest (20-27.3% of the time). Spring usually play behavior. In June, rodents are more cautious than in the spring. Tentative behavior during this period is up to 26.2% of the time compared to 13.3% – in April. In July – August marmots are less active, more time spent on vacation (to 48.8%) than for feeding (40.7%). Holidaymakers marmots can be seen during the day. Tentative behavior of 11-15% of the time. In early September, leaving the surface of the marmots lie motionless for long periods of butane (60% of the time), and almost without food. To approximate the behavior of 8% of the time spent outside the burrow. From September 10, groundhogs begin lie dormant, which spend at least 6 months.

Serve as the main food Groundhog steppe grasses. Of these the most important are grasses (fescue, bluegrass, bonfires, Poa angustifolia – Roa angusti-folia), legumes (sainfoin sandy – Onobrychis arenaria, clover, alfalfa, Romania – Medicago falcata, astragalus), Chenopodiaceae (pigweed white-Chenopodium album, kochia stretched – Kochia prostrata), buckwheat (knot-grass – Polygonum aviculare), Labiatae (Bogorodskaya grass – Thymus serpyllum), Compositae (Austrian wormwood – Artemisia austriaca and sea – A. monogyna), and others are well marked seasonal changes in feed composition. In the spring, before the first green, marmots eat the remaining standing old wood fescue, feather grass, wormwood roots, bulbs bluegrass. In late April and May are the preferred forage young leaves and shoots of vegetative crops. Later in the diet Groundhog included grasses, and only from the beginning of flowering starts to eat beans. In bloom basis feed marmots are the flowers of many plants in the late summer – green and some yellowing leaves of plants and soft unripened fruit. Cultivated plants play a minor role and are eaten by marmots rarely, if holes are located in the immediate vicinity of the crop or crops. Number of meals eaten per day is up to 500, the power is closely connected with the accumulation of fat rodents. By the end of August in adult marmot fat reaches 20-22% of body weight and is 1.5-1.6 kg (Semikhatova, 1968 b).

Feed on small animals, mostly grasses that grow on the edges of fields, weeds occurring in crops, sometimes crops (rye, wheat, oats, corn, sunflower). In these settlements, groundhogs, tend to focus on the edges of cultivated areas, boundary strips and roadside field roads and density of settlements is 9.6-10.8 individuals / ha. At such a high density of harmful activity Groundhog more noticeable and is expressed in eating, falling asleep, and trampling the crops. Damaged areas are confined to residential burrows, ranging in size from 13 to 120, an average of 45 m2 (Semikhatova, 1969).

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