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Monitoring services and distribution of the European mink, elaboration and publishing of the European mink Handbook Danubeparks Programme

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Monitoring services and distribution of the European mink, elaboration and publishing of the European mink Handbook Danubeparks Programme Contract of services no of (DDNI: 412/2010) Financier:
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Monitoring services and distribution of the European mink, elaboration and publishing of the European mink Handbook Danubeparks Programme Contract of services no of (DDNI: 412/2010) Financier: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority October 2010 The name of the phase I: The monitoring of European mink (Mustela lutreola) distribution within the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve The objectives of the phase I: 1. Realization of the map of recent and present distribution of the European mink in DDBR; 2. European mink present status cognition in the DDBR and assessment of the present natural and anthropic limitative factors; 3. Achievement of a set of recommendations on short and long term for the European mink conservation in the DDBR. Acquirer: The Ministry of Environment and Forests Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority Tulcea, 34, Portului, Phone: , Fax: Provider: Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development Tulcea, 165, Babadag, Phone: , Fax: GENERAL DIRECTOR: eng. Ştiucă Romulus SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR: dr. eng. Staraş Mircea PROJECT MANAGER: PhD Student Marinov Mihai 2 WORKING TEAM Marinov E. Mihai S.R. III, project manager, Dr. Kiss J. Botond S.R. I, Alexe Vasile assistant scientific researcher, Doroftei Mihai S.R., Nichifor Cristina - S.R., Doroşencu Alexandru S.R., Condac Marilena technician, Gal Anton analyst worker, Iosif Nicolae analyst worker, Băcescu Gheorghe analyst worker, Bucur Gheorghe analyst worker, Cîrpăveche Pavel analyst worker, Timofei Arsenic analyst worker. SUMMARY Title 1. Introduction 2. Material and methods 3. Results 4. Conclusions 5. Recommendations 3 Pp References Annexes 32 The activities of the Contract of services no of (412 of 2010) entitled Monitoring services and distribution of the European mink, elaboration and publishing of the European mink Handbook financed by: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority, are carried on under the auspices of the SEE Programme Danube River Network of Protected Areas Development and Implementation of Transnational Strategies for the Conservation of the Natural Heritage at the Danube River. Phase I: The monitoring of European mink (Mustela lutreola) distribution within the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve The objectives of the phase I, which carrys on between , are as follows: 1. Realization of the map of recent and present distribution of the European mink in DDBR; 2. European mink present status cognition in the DDBR and assessment of the present natural and anthropic limitative factors; 3. Achievement of a set of recommendations on short and long term for the European mink conservation in the DDBR. The expected results of the phase I are as follows: - Achievement of a coherent Monitoring Plan applicable on the DDBR conditions; - The European mink occurrence identification in as many ecological periods, in an enough number that allowing the assessment of population size; - European mink capturing (the capturing depending by a set of meteorological, hydrological and tropho-biological factors, etc. and the number of captured individuals was over 20 exemplary in some winters, but later, in spite of a sustained effort was caught none mink for a period of 2 winters); 1. Introduction The European mink is one of the most rare and endangered mammals existing on our continent. Until recently, this was not acknowledged on EU level, but since 2002, it is listed as a strictly protected species with priority within the Annexes II of Habitat Directive. Excessive hunting and the destruction of the species habitats in previous years have generated the collapse of species effectives almost everywhere in Europe. Currently the species remains only in few fragmented populations in Belarus (two micro populations), France and Spain (a border population continues), three small populations in Russia (one in contact with the Belarusian) and in Danube Delta (Brink 1972, Davidson et al Gotea and Kranz, 2000, Krantz et al., 2002 after Sidorovich1997, Stubbe 1993, Youngman 1982). Thus, it appears that there are enclaves of European mink micro populations within the area of compact spreading of the American shape (Fig. 1.). Fig. 1. The European mink s historical (with green) and recent (with red) spreading area on continent (after Kranz et al. 2001). Due to the low number of the remained effectives and the habitats destruction, but not at least due to it entry into the biotopes of the American mink, it saving in these countries (except Romania) presents particular difficulties. As can be seen, in Romania, respectively on DDBR s territory is one of the last refuges of the populations of this species. To increase chances of preventing species extinction, an essential condition is the knowledge of the distribution, the status (population trends, density etc.) and the current limit factors. Intensive researches of situation of the European mink within DDBR were initiated in The first captures took place in Except the year 2009, catching expeditions took place each year, usually in March. With substantial financial support of this project, besides catching expeditions were, also, launched permanent monitoring activities of the minks and the results were not late to appear: an impressive number of observations achieved mainly by the staff of the Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development- Tulcea. 4 2. Material and methods 2.1. Study area: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. Covered areas: Fig.2. Legend at page no. 6 Fig. 2. The areas where investigations took place regarding the presence of the European mink in 2009 (marked in red) and 2010 (marked and shaded with green in riverine-marine delta and in black in the rest part of the DDBR s territory). Those with oblique lines of shading were investigated between June and August current year, those with vertical lines of shading during January to May this year. 5 Map s legend for fig. 2: Marked in red, the areas investigated in Sulina branch s sailing line and adjacent terrestrial and water fringe habitats between M Old Danube s sailing line and adjacent terrestrial and water fringe habitats. 3. Caraorman channel s sailing line- Crisan and adjacent terrestrial and water fringe habitats. 4. Caraorman Forest. 5. Sulina branch s sailing line and adjacent terrestrial and water fringe habitats downstream Gorgova. 6. St. George's sailing line between Nufaru and the St. George Ceatal. 7. The Danube s sailing line, upstream and downstream Mila 36 Channel. 8. Somova - Parcheş Complex (lakes and channels) - the Danube s sailing line. 9. Chilia Branch, the Danube s sailing line - Channel M Musura shallow water Sulina basin. 11. Sacalin shallow water. Marked in green, the areas investigated in riverine-marine delta in 2010 K. Ceamurlia - D.Veche - Magearu Musura. U. Iacub Lake and partial the Crişan-Caraorman Channel. X. Letea Forest Y. Offshore bar between Sulina and St. George. Marked in black, the investigations within the riverine and lagoon delta in 2010 A. M36 Channel- Trofilca (channels M36, Trofilca, Sireasa and other secondary ones, Coteţe, Purcelu and Carasu lakes). B. Draghilia Sontea Nebunu - Păpădia (channels Sontea, Draghilia, Păpădia Veche and Nouă, Arhipenco etc, Meşteru, Lung, Tătaru, Nebunu, Martinca, Rădăcinos, Alb lakes, etc, different backwaters, a part of Sulina Branch, Rusca partially). C. Candura (Candura Şontea Nouă -, Stipoc channels, Pantelei, Huncea lakes and other areas). D. Băclăneşti Fortuna Ligheanca (Şontea, Războiniţa, Olguţa, Văcaru channels and other secondary ones, Băclăneşti, Fortuna, Ligheanca, Văcaru, Văcărel lakes, different backwaters). E. Maliuc (Maliuc fishpond, Fortuna reconstructed polder, partial Păpădia polder, Crânjală and Ciobănica Channels, Sulina Branch partially etc.). F. Gorgova - Litcov (Litcov, Babinţii Mari, Malafeica, Ceamurlia channels, partial Crişan Channel, Perivolovca Channel, Rotund, Gorgova, Gorgovăţ, Potcoava, Obretinciuc, Obretinul Mic lakes and many backwaters). G. Dunărea Veche -Dovnica 3 Iezere (Ceamurlia fishpond, Dovnica, Bogdaproste channels etc., Dunărea Veche, 3 Iezere, Amiază, Bogdaproste lakes, Ulasova lake partially etc.). H. Matiţa Merhei (Dovnica, Miazăzi channels and other secondary ones, Miazăzi, Matiţa, Merheiul Mare, Merheiul Mic, Hrecisca lakes şi and many backwaters). I. Murighiol Uzlina Perivolovca (partially Sf. Gheorghe Branch, Uzlina, Perivolovca, Taranova channels, Uzlina, Taranova, Isac, Isăcel, Chiril, Murighiol, Sărături Murighiol lakes, different backwaters). J. Dunavăţ Mustaca Dranov Crasnicol. L. Razim Enisala M. Popina Island N. Fundea Bay O. Sălcioara / includes Razim lakeside from Enisala to Doloşman. P. and S. Holbina Bay - Periteaşca - Coşnei. Q. Jurilovca - Goloviţa Leahova littoral/includes lagoons sides from Doloşman to Lunca and partially Grindul Lupilor. R. Zmeica Lake T. Stipoc-Războiniţa. V. Babina Islet Study period: according to the project s demands, the study period is between February 5 and November 5 this year. Because we possess valuable data from last year we decided to use them in this project, too. We also want to extend the monitoring to the end of the project (March 5, 2011) Used vehicles: ships Antipa, Merişor and Viştea, as well as 6 motor boats (6-15 HP). Also, for the terrestrial routes the DDNI s cars were used Monitoring methods Capturing. The traps used to capture are selective, according to Berne Convention s demands(*** 1993), manufacturing in Austria. Their dimension is 50 x 16 x 16 cm and are single entry cage traps (Fig. 3), baited with sardines in vegetable oil (from tins of Moroccan origin). This kind of bait was successfully 6 used previously in Danube Delta, also in France and Spain. Traps were installed in places where based on my experience I considered that the minks are present. Because the water level was very high in March, also the temperatures were much lower as in the previous years, the state of the captured animals was pretty poor. Thus, in the second expedition from March were done two checks, one of them in the evening and the other in the morning. The captured animals weren t anesthetized, but were placed in cotton bags, where were weighed, photographed and sexed. Further hair was cut from tail s tip for the recapturing. All operations lasted between 4-5 minutes, the minks were released at the capture place. Trapping was carried out only in March, with a batch of 41 traps, in 5 zones within Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (Annex 1). Fig. 3. Selective traps used to capture European minks during in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Observation. Minks monitoring by direct or indirect observation (tracks and faeces) was made by 6 laboratory assistants stationed in DDBR (Partizani, Vulturu, Maliuc, Murighiol, Sălcioara and Jurilovca) as well as by DDNI s researchers on the occasion of the works field within the project, but also within other projects. Interview method was used at the locals, then by checking the information. 7 3. Results Activity 1. The monitoring of European mink distribution within the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve 3.1. Achievement of a coherent Monitoring Plan applicable on the DDBR conditions If the achievement of a monitoring plan is drafted (based on experience) in a relatively short time, the implementation of this plan involves human and financial resources for a long period of time. During the project s development, were available both types of resources, but with the end of the project, the only way to continue the Monitoring Plan is to introduce itself in the recurrent tasks of the field staff from DDBRA and from the Environment Guard. Depending on financial possibilities, the field staff from DDNI will continue the monitoring of the minks on an extended area, also after the project will be finished. As we mentioned in the chapter Material and methods, minks monitoring was done by direct or indirect observation (tracks and faeces). The monitoring was performed during the working hours, from Monday to Friday, by 6 laboratory assistants from the department of Ornithology - Hunting, stationed in DDBR (Partizani, Vulturu, Maliuc, Murighiol, Sălcioara and Jurilovca) as well as the researchers from DDNI on the occasion of the works field within the project, but also within other projects. Interview method was used at the locals, then by checking the information. Also, the staff of the other DDNI s departments was asked, again later the information were verified. Both researchers and laboratory assistants have noted the exact location of the mink s observation (including live GPS point, or then using Google Earth), the date and the time of observation, the observation type (direct or indirect). There were also noted the type of the activity (ex. feeding, travel, rest, etc.), the observation s environment (ex. swimming in the channel, lake, stationary or dynamic on dam, canal bank, reed islet, tree etc.). They noted details regarding the type of vegetation from the observation place, possible nearby disturbing factors. Linking with hydrological and meteorological conditions is done later. We suggest to the acquirer (DDBRA), on this way to initiate the Monitoring Plan and the charging of the ecologist agents to monitor the European mink within DDBR. Data obtained by the ecologist agents can be processed by DDNI or by DDBRA The monitoring of the European mink distribution by capturing. In the present material, we are treating both the situation of the captures from this year and those from In March 2010 two expeditions were made. In the first expedition were set traps in the areas of Crasnicol Channel, Litcov Channel - Gorgova Lake and Mila 36 Channel - Tulcea Branch (Annex ). In the second expedition were investigated the Dovnica Channel, Bogdaproste, Ceamurlia channel belt, Ghermandi Channel, Sulina Branch Mila and the area of Gârla Vătafu (Annex ). Overall, in March 2010 were captured 25 European minks (Table 1), with an effort to catch much lower compared with previous years (approximately 41 traps / day). There were captured 16 males and 9 females. As we mentioned in the previous chapter, the animals were captured (Fig. 4), then were placed in cotton bags (Fig. 5), where were weighed (Fig. 6), photographed (Fig. 7) and were sexed (Fig. 8). Further, hair was cut from the tail s tip (Fig. 9) for the recapturing and immediately after these, the minks were released at the capture place (Fig. 10). For the first time in DDBR, we have two recaptures of European mink, one with a displacement of about 1 km beginning of Dovnica Channel, respectively Ceamurlia enclosure - and the other in the same place, Ghermandi Channel (shaded rows of Tab.1). During were captured other 45 European minks (Tab. 2) as follows: minks; minks; none; two minks; minks; two minks. In 2009 capturing activities weren t made. It follows a number of 70 minks that were captured during (Tab.1 and 2). 8 Tab.1. European minks that were captured within DDBR in March 2010 (* and **, captured and recaptured individuals) Crt. no. Zone Sex Weight (g) Date Geographical Observations coordinates 1 Channel belt-crasnicol M N E Middle age willow forest, rich in vegetation 2 Channel belt -Crasnicol M N E Middle age willow forest, rich in vegetation 3 Crasnicol Channel M N E Old willow forest 4 Litcov Channel M N E Young willow forest 5 Litcov Channel F N E Old willow forest 6 Litcov Channel F N E Young willow forest 7 Litcov Channel M N E Old willow forest 8 Litcov Channel M N E Area with very much reed 9 Litcov Channel F N E Old willow forest 10 Litcov Channel F N E Old willow forest 11 Litcov Channel F N E Old willow forest 12 Litcov Channel M N E Old willow forest 13 Dovnica Channel F N E Area with very much thin reed and Dutch rush 14* Area with very much thin reed and Dutch rush, with a single willow. Dovnica Channel M 840 N E First individual recaptured, the second day (14A*) 15 Dovnica Channel F N E Area with very much thin reed and Dutch rush 16 Channel belt Ceamurlia M N E Area is covered by old willows fallen down and cut with chainsaw 17 Dovnica Channel M N E Old willow forest 18 Dovnica Channel F N E Area with old willows and reed 19 Dovnica Channel M N E Area with Salix cinerea and reed 14A* Channel belt Ceamurlia M N E Old willow forest, trees cut with chainsaw. The first recapturing. 20 Dovnica Channel M N E Old willow forest and thick reed Area with rubble dam and old willows. Trap covered by rubbles, on 21 Sulina Branch, Mila 9 M 840 N E the rubble dam of Sulina branch Sulina Branch, Mila 9 F 560 N E Channel belt Ceamurlia M N E Old willow forest and thick reed 24** Ghermandi Channel M 780 N E the second day (24**) 25 Sulina Branch Gârla Vătafu M 760 N E ** Ghermandi Channel M N E Area with old willows and Dutch rush. The second recapturing. Area with rubble dam and old willows. Trap covered by rubbles, on the rubble dam of Sulina branch. Area with old willows and Dutch rush. The second individual recaptured, Area with young willows with Amorpha fruticosa and thin reed. Trap set at 09 AM, at 15 PM found with mink in it. Tab.2. European minks that were captured within DDBR during 2003/2008 Crt. Crt. no. no. Zone Sex Weight (g) Date Observations 1 1 Enisala M alive 2 2 Dovnica M alive 3 3 Dovnica M alive 4 4 Dovnica F dead 5 5 Dovnica M alive 6 6 Dovnica M alive 7 7 Dovnica M alive 8 8 Fortuna M alive 9 9 Fortuna M alive Fortuna M alive Fortuna M alive Fortuna M alive Fortuna M alive Dunavat Channel F alive Dunavat Channel M alive Dunavat Channel M alive Dunavat Channel M alive Dunavat Channel F alive Dunavat Channel F alive Dunavat Channel F euthanized Dunavat Channel F alive Uzlina M escaped before weighing Uzlina M alive Uzlina F alive Uzlina F alive Perivolovca Channel M alive Perivolovca Channel M alive Ivancea Channel Roşu F alive 29 1 Draghilia Channel M alive 30 2 Draghilia Channel M alive 31 3 Draghilia Channel M alive 32 4 Draghilia Channel M alive 33 5 Sulimanca Channel M vie 34 6 Sulimanca Channel M alive 35 7 Sulimanca Channel- Babina Channel M alive 36 1 Fortuna-Maliuc M balance out of order 37 2 Fortuna-Maliuc M escaped without weighing 38 1 Dranov-Crasnicol M alive 39 2 Dranov-Crasnicol M alive 40 3 Dranov-Crasnicol M alive 41 4 Dranov-Crasnicol M alive 42 5 Perişor M alive 43 6 Perişor M alive 44 1 Sireasa Channel M alive 45 2 Sireasa Channel M alive Fig.4. European mink that was captured with selective trap in March 2010, on Crasnicol Channel Due to high water s levels (Annex 2) the areas where traps were set were restricted, having to look for channels with banks or higher dikes. Furthermore, water s levels reached record highs in March 2010 recorded the highest average (Annex 2, ) of all March period from 2003 to 2010; also, the daily values and averages of the first two decades of March 2010 were the highest, only daily values and the average of the third decade of March 2006 was higher (Annex 2, and ). Although in March 2006 there were registered also very high water s levels (Annex 2), the number of captured minks was very low (two males). Number of traps was higher in 2006, but the number of capturing nights was higher in The only difference between those two years is given by the number of common rats (Rattus norvegicus), 5 captured in March 2010 and 28 in March So it is possible that the abundance or the lack of the gray rats to determine the success of the capturing activities of the European minks. The share of the other trophic resources is lower, most food species may be inactive or inaccessible, as rats are active all throughout the year. After the reserve of food is finished, rats are the main food species until the advent of frogs, tritons and others. This hypothesis is strengthened by a convincing example. On March 16, 2010, when traps were set on the western bank of the Dovnica Channel, a mink in an advanced state of starvation smelled open sardines tins and following the smell, mov
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