Presentation Title

Restoring the Siberian Marmot: Recovery of an Endangered Species in the Mongolian Steppe

Abstract

The Siberian marmot (Marmota sibirica), a keystone species once considered to be common and widespread throughout Mongolia, has undergone dramatic declines in recent years. Overharvesting (both legal and illegal), overgrazing, and habitat changes have led to considerable declines and resulted in localized extinctions in several parts of the country, prompting a strong need among local, regional, and national authorities for conservation efforts to restore the species. Estimated at 40 million individuals in 1940, surveys found less than 5 million remaining in 2001, and numbers are believed to have since declined even further. To assess the current status of the species in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, located in the Eastern Gobi Steppe, we surveyed 62 historic marmot colonies previously found to be active in 2010. Of these, a mere 3 showed signs of marmot activity, meaning a 95% decline. An occupancy analysis was used to assess ecological landscape characteristics and determine key areas for reintroductions. We identified optimal habitat in the landscape to inform future reintroduction plans for the recovery of the species.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

James (Jed) Murdoch

Graduate Student Mentors

Lisi Lohre

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Program/Major

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Restoring the Siberian Marmot: Recovery of an Endangered Species in the Mongolian Steppe

The Siberian marmot (Marmota sibirica), a keystone species once considered to be common and widespread throughout Mongolia, has undergone dramatic declines in recent years. Overharvesting (both legal and illegal), overgrazing, and habitat changes have led to considerable declines and resulted in localized extinctions in several parts of the country, prompting a strong need among local, regional, and national authorities for conservation efforts to restore the species. Estimated at 40 million individuals in 1940, surveys found less than 5 million remaining in 2001, and numbers are believed to have since declined even further. To assess the current status of the species in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, located in the Eastern Gobi Steppe, we surveyed 62 historic marmot colonies previously found to be active in 2010. Of these, a mere 3 showed signs of marmot activity, meaning a 95% decline. An occupancy analysis was used to assess ecological landscape characteristics and determine key areas for reintroductions. We identified optimal habitat in the landscape to inform future reintroduction plans for the recovery of the species.