MARMOT REINTRODUCTION PROGRAM
Mongolian marmots (Marmota sibirica), are a federally listed endangered species and keystone ecosystem engineers that modify habitat by building extensive burrowing system. They are associated with greater density and diversity of vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant population.
Burrowing mammals are keystone ecosystem engineers in many communities because burrowing is an engineering activity that can directly and indirectly alter the availability of resources, have effects at soil bulk density in turn it increases the water infiltration and aerates into the soil as well as the concentration of soil nutirents, such as carbon nitrogen and phosphorus. The advantages of using burrows, even if just for shelter, are clear because the burrow environment is significantly more moderate than the above-ground environment. For example, soil temperature fluctuates much less even a few centimeters into the soil than it does at the soil surface. Because burrowing changes the soil nutrient profile, areas of disturbed soil can create favorable microhabitat for seedling recruitment and establishment. Disturbed areas often differ markedly in plant biomass and cover, community composition, and productivity from undisturbed areas
Steppe Wildlife RCC started a program to marmot reintroduction in old marmot distributed area. We were able to reintroduced 20 individauls of Mongolian marmot in June 2019. Half of the reintroduced marmots stably distributed in the escaped area. Some of individauls moved 1-5 km radius from the escaped area. We observed the marmots from distance and set camera traps some of the burrow sites.
Marmot burrows provide shelter for Pallas's cat, corsac fox, red fox and badger in the steppe zone.
The steppe zone is treeless and prone to droughts, soil erosion, and desertification.
Steppe Wildlife started a project to combat this process by planting trees in the area. With the help of the Institute of Botany at The Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS), we were able to plant two thousand trees in October 2017 and planted another 500 trees in October 2018.
Most of these trees are indigenous as to not disturb the sensitive ecosystem or introduce neophytes. Despite being adapted to this environment, these trees still need help to survive, especially during the hottest time of the year.
Trees provide shelter, food, and resting locations for wildlife. The trees also help birds to move across the landscape to get to breeding sites, water sources, and to move to different habitats as the seasons change.