NEWS

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NEW PAPER

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Mongolian marmot burrow influences an occupancy of Isabelline wheatear

The physical modification of habitat by the rodents can create patches with altered species richness relative to adjacent, unmodified habitats. The majority of studies found a positive correlation between engineering patches and animal species richness/diversity/abundance. In this paper, we show occupancy of wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) in engineering patches created by Mongolian marmot (Marmota sibirica) and no engineering in different habitat types of the arid steppe ecosystem. Our results indicate that Isabelline wheatear distribution is strongly influenced by marmots as burrows presumably provide it with important habitat resources.  The loss of marmots will probably have direct effects on the distribution of the breeding bird and the ecosystem processes they support.

CONSERVATION NEWS

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However, there were two wildlife educational events among school children and local people in Halzan village of Sukhbaatar Province in 2018 and 2019, but we were not able to organize a third event in 2020 because of a pandemic and limited funds. Thanks to the Shared Earth Foundation, we could organize a third wildlife educational day in Halzan village in November, 2021. The wildlife educational event reached all school children of the soum.

CONSERVATION NEWS

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Planting trees

Steppe Wildlife started a project to combat this process by planting trees near Khalzan Village of Sukhbaatar Province. 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.

In 2021, we planted again 1200 Siberian elm trees, 100 other trees (dwarf apple, black currant, black cherry, Siberian currant, shrubby cinquefoil, prickly rosa and Mongolian almond) near the camp of Steppe Wildlife.

 

CONSERVATION NEWS

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Reintroduction of endangered Mongolian Marmot

Steppe Wildlife RCC started a program to marmot reintroduction in an old marmot distributed area. We were able to reintroduce 20 individuals of Mongolian marmot in June 2019. Our reintroduced marmots successfully breed in 2021. In 2021, we reintroduced again 30 more marmots in Khalzan village of Sukhbaatar Province.

NEW PAPER

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Assessing wildlife biodiversity using camera trap data on the Mongolian marmot (Marmota sibirica) colonies

The Mongolian marmot is a relatively large-bodied, social rodent that lives in colonies across the Mongolian steppes and parts of China and Russia. Marmots serve as ecosystem engineers that display multiple functions on the steppe environments they inhabit. To examine the role of marmots on vertebrate species, we set camera traps on and off marmot colony sites in the forest-steppe, steppe, and semi-desert zones of Mongolia. Species abundance and some diversity indices were significantly higher on colonies compared to off colony sites. Our research provides insights into how marmots create important habitats for associated fauna and demonstrates that this engineering species plays an irreplaceable role in this ecosystem. We hope that this and similar experimental approaches will allow us to better understand the biodiversity patterns in and around marmot burrows.   

NEW BOOK

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Vertebrates of Sukhbaatar Province

This is the first comprehensive guide to the unique wildlife of the Sukhbaatar Province, encompassing the birds, mammals, and reptiles a visitor to these extraordinary steppe habitats. The innovative, simple-to-use format of the small-sized volume will help beginners and experts alike to identify with charismatic steppe fauna.

Highlighting the differences between similar species, the guide focuses on the key identification features of each. Information on the status, habitat preferences, breeding seasons, and significant behavioral characteristics is provided for each species. 680 photographic images with illustrations depict 265 birds, 40 mammals, and 8 reptiles ever recorded on the Sukhbaatar Province.

NEW PAPER

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Diet of the Pallas’ cat (Otocolobus manul) in Mongolian steppe habitat during a population peak of Brandt’s voles

Pallas’ cats range across Central Asia and commonly consume small mammals. Most studies on Pallas’ cats’ diets found that they strongly selected particular prey species, such as pika (Ochotona spp.), and pika occurrence in Pallas’ cat diet was disproportionately high compared to availability in Central Mongolia. We have conducted research into Pallas’ cat ecology in Khalzan Soum, Sukhbaatar Aimag since 2018. Brandt’s vole density started to increase in 2017, peaked in 2018-2019, and decreased in 2020. We collected feces of Pallas’ cats every month from May, 2019 to May, 2020.  We found a significant correlation between rodent abundance and occurrence in scats of Pallas’ cats during the kitten rearing season. Our research provides insights into how Pallas’ cats play an important role in biological control in this ecosystem during a Brandt’s vole’s population irruption.