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Field Studies in the Arkhangelsk Region

Sea mammals of the Matveev Island (the Barents sea).

In spite of fact that IBPN is located in the North of the Far East, the main part of field researches is fullfield in the other regions due to different reasons caused by variety of assigned tasks.

 In the summer of 2017 one of those regions was the Arkhangelsk region. A specialist of our Institute, a scientist of mammals ecology laboratory – Kochnev Anatoly A., imparted his experience and methods of walrus monitoring, used at rookeries of Chukotka, with specialists of The Nenets nature reserve. The core objectives of this work were:

-          revealing of the actual species composition of sea mammals and their monitoring in offshore strip of the Matveev island;

-          researching of the population dynamics and sex-age structure of Athetlantic walruses on the coastal rookery of the Matveev island;

-          sharing the experience in census and visual estimation of sex and age of walruses with specialists of The Nenents nuture reserve.

This investigation lasted from July, 14 till August, 4 of 2017. It showed, that species composition of sea mammals on the surveyed territory was restricted. Overwhelming part of animals is represented by walruses. Just once the ringed seal was registered on the rookery. Sex-age structure of the walrus herd was characterized by prevalence of elder age groups of males. The part of young animals (3-5 years) was insignificant. Judging by the population dynamics of walruses and their behavior, the rookery is used by males as a resting place in the time spans between regular feedings. The samples of mollusks were taken from walruses’ excrements to determine the composition of food objects. One can suppose that in autumn the rookery on the Matveev Island is used both by males and females with yang animals. That is noted by the calcius of young of the year were found on the island. The field researches allow to confirm, that the sea mammals monitoring on the Matveev island must be longstanding because of proximity hydrocarbons offshore exploitation infrastructure (platform “Prirazlomnaya”).

 

   

Swimming Birds of the Kolguev Island (The Barents sea).

Another interesting expedition in the Arkchangelsk region was held involving our scientist, leading researcher worker, and, pluralistically, Deputy Director for Science – Kondratyev Alexandr Vl.

The work lasted this year from July till August on the Kolguev Island. The aim of expedition was to continue the monitoring of swimming birds. The detailed monitoring of claik, bean goose, barnacle goose characterized by unique breeding density on the Matveev Island has been carried out here almost uninterruptedly since 2006. The breeding numbers of this species of gees reach several tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands pairs. It comprises almost one third of the numbers of these species on the whole Western–Palearctic flight route.

The annual monitoring allows determining the influence of different factors on time limits, density and success of nesting. A separate task is finding the complex biotic links between basic species of unique ecosystem of this island. The main peculiarity of these ecosystem is the absent of gnawing animals. The inhabitants of the island are presented by ice foxes, rough-legged buzzards and other myophaguses, their predator press is not link with lemming cycles usual for other tundra areas. Another feature of the Kolguev island ecosystem was high significance of caribou in it. But, the catastrophic reduction of caribous in 2015 (from 12000 to 200 individuals during one winter) forced the range of multistage changing in numbers and distribution of ice-foxes, and that in its turn couldn’t but reflect in distribution and nesting success of swimming birds. 

Noted growth of population and size of breeding colonies barnacle gees also forced significant changes in biotopic distribution of other species of gees. First of all, they concerned brood biotopes using which balance gees demonstrate competitive displacement of white-fronted gees. This year a long-term work on individual colored marking of gees continued and monitoring of population and individual tracing of one more mass modeling species of tundra ecosystem – a long-tailed duck, started.

 

   

 This spring on the Kolguev as well as over the whole territory of the Barents coast came extremely late, and June was one of the coldest in all 10-year history of monitoring. Due to this fact terms of goose nesting moved almost three weeks later in comparison with other earlier seasons. As a rule, such late seasons have no significant influence on number of nesting pairs and breeding success, but they are unfavorable for success of brood period. Total influence of that season on population of gees can be assessed on the basis of further monitoring. 

   

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