1067-4136/05/3602- © 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2005, pp. 115–119. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 2, 2005, pp. 132–137.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Belousova, Smirnov, Kaz’min, Kudrjavtsev.
We used various records of the Orlovskoe Poles’e
National Park as well as the results of ﬁeld observations
to characterize the soils and vegetation of the area occu-
pied by the park and to assess the local populations of
ungulates. The national park occupies seven forestries
with a total area of 35720 ha. Gray forest light- and
medium-loamy soils are prevalent (41%) throughout
the national park area. The soil type largely determines
the speciﬁcity of the vegetation and, hence, the distribu-
tion of ungulates in the region. A climatic factor very
favorable for ungulates is that the snow cover is formed
later and melts earlier (March 31) than in central Rus-
sia. The snow depth averaged over many years is as
small as 13 cm. Apparently, this allows the European
bison not only to move easily, but also to procure food
from under the snow.
The distribution of forest resources with respect to
dominant species is as follows: pine, 47.5%; birch and
aspen, 35.6%; and other trees, only about 17%. Tree
stands of middle age are prevalent (60.2%) in all spe-
cies except oak. The rich soils determine a high stand
productivity: 81% of stands have been assigned to qual-
ity classes 1 and 1'; and the others, to classes B and 3.
The results of a forest management survey revealed
the presence of 15 groups of forest types (according to
Sukachev’s classiﬁcation). We excluded from analysis
some groups that occupied small areas. The groups of
forest types whose differences from one another were
insigniﬁcant in terms of the conditions for ungulates
were pooled, so that, in the end, six to eight groups
remained. Pine and birch, which are present in most
groups of forest types, occupy the largest niche; linden,
which is only present in two groups, the smallest niche.
In general, the forests are highly mosaic, stratiﬁed, and
have a complex spatial structure, which is favorable for
the animals living there, including ungulates.
The high density of tree stands, mainly determined
by their age structure, is less favorable. Stands of
medium and high density are most prevalent (49.5 and
37.4%, respectively); glades, sparse stands, and waste
areas account for as little as 2.5% of the total forest
area; hayﬁelds and bogs occupy 0.3 and 1.0% of the
total area, respectively. The forest is characterized by a
large proportion of tree (mainly pine) plantations of dif-
ferent ages (23.4% of the total area).
Although the tree stands are dense, the understory
and undergrowth are well-developed under the tree can-
opy. The understory consists mainly of spruce, a
smaller amount of pine, and some leaved species.
According to the taxonometric description, buckthorn
) and, to a lesser extent, rowan (
vail in the undergrowth, which also includes euonymus
), willows (trees and coppice),
and other woody species. These layers show no signs of
deterioration caused by ungulates.
Analysis of the population dynamics of the main
ungulate species native to the national park during the
past 16 years has shown that the numbers of moose in
that period distinctly tended to decrease and slightly
increased only during the past two years. The numbers
of roe deer and wild boar distinctly and constantly
tended to increase. In 1994, the population densities of
moose, roe deer, and wild boar were 1.77, 2.93, and
1.86 animals per 1000 ha, respectively.
The numbers of red deer and European bison (three
groups) are currently 45–50 animals and more than
68 animals, respectively. The annual number of ungu-
lates taken by hunters in the period studied was insig-
niﬁcant (less than 10% of the census numbers) and can-
not have noticeably affected the state of the population.
Reintroduction of the European Bison
into the Forest Ecosystem of the Orlovskoe Poles’e National Park
I. P. Belousova, K. A. Smirnov, V. D. Kaz’min, and I. V. Kudrjavtsev
Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Leninskii pr. 33, Moscow, 119071 Russia
Received March 17, 2004
—The forest ecosystem of the Orlovskoe Poles’e National Park has been studied in reference to the
reintroduction of a rare species: the European bison (
L.). Preliminary data characterizing the
state of forest resources and the populations of ungulates living in the forests, as well as the genetic problems
associated with maintaining a viable population of the European bison, are considered.
: forest, tree stand, ungulates, European bison, viability, simulation.