ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2010, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 244–248. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2010.
Original Russian Text © E.A. Dubinin, 2010, published in Ekologiya, 2010, No. 3, pp. 207–211.
In studies on the ecological structure of a popula
tion, special attention is devoted to the population
division into groups of individuals establishing specific
relationships with abiotic and biotic environmental
factors (Yablokov, 1987). Therefore, it is of major
importance to analyze differences in feeding between
such intrapopulation groups.
This ecological structure of sable (
populations in the aspect of intrapopulation groups
differing in feeding has not been studied sufficiently.
Relevant published data are scarce and fairly contra
dictory, apparently reflecting spatiotemporal dyna
mism of sable’s trophic relations in biocenoses (Kiris,
1953; Lavrov, 1953; Zaleker and Poluzadov, 1955,
1957; Dul’keit, 1957; Belyshev, 1960; Gryaznukhin,
According to Yurgenson (1947), morphological
prerequisites for differentiation of food spectrum
between males and females in species of the genus
lie in significant sexual dimorphism of body
size and weight. In the sable, males are on average 10–
12% larger than females and their body weight is 35–
50% greater (Timofeev and Nadeeva, 1955), which
implies that they may differ in the size range of food
objects. On the other hand, the sable is a settled spe
cies with a solitary–familial mode of life (Baskin,
1991). The spatial ethological structure of populations
in such species is based on the establishment of indi
vidual (family) territories used over long periods of
time (Shilov, 1991).
Sables, like many other mustelids, actively defend
their individual territories (Ternovskii, 1977). This
factor combines with prevalence of aggressive social
contacts, which leads to more even distribution of
individuals within the population range and to more
optimal resource consumption by the population as a
whole (Shilov, 1991). The degree of overlap between
individual territories of males and females may vary;
within each individual territory, there is an area from
where the residents actively oust other individuals
(Raevskii, 1947; Pavlov, 1989). Because of this division
of space and the resources it contains, differences in
food spectrum should depend mainly on characteris
tics of habitats and individual food preferences rather
than on the sex of an individual. This has been shown
both for the sable (Raevskii, 1947; Chernikin, 1971)
and for other species with a solitary–familial mode of
life (Yablokov, 1987).
Preliminary studies on sexrelated features of feed
ing in the Kolyma sable (Dubinin, 2007), where the
age of animals was not taken into account, revealed no
significant differences in the proportion of particular
kinds of food or in the qualitative food spectrum in
general, either by years or over the entire study period.
Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare
the spectrum of food objects in males and females of
the same age group.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The food spectrum of the sable was studied by ana
lyzing the contents of the stomach and the intestine
(Novikov, 1953) in 828 animals collected during the
hunting seasons (November–February) of 2000 to
2007 in the middle reaches of the Kolyma River. The
material was collected in the right and leftbank parts
of the river basin in areas between the mouths of the
On Sexual Dimorphism in the Winter Diet
of the Sable (
E. A. Dubinin
Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Portovaya 18, Magadan, 68500 Russia
Received July 3, 2009
—The contents of the digestive tract in sables (
L.) of known sex and age from the
Middle Kolyma basin were examined to assess the winter diet in general and the frequencies of particular
types of food in different sex and age groups of these animals. No statistically significant sexrelated differ
ences in the diet were revealed. This is probably explained by a considerable overlap of size and weight param
eters between male and female Kolyma sables, due to which probable differences in their diets are leveled off.
: sexual dimorphism, diet, sable.