1067-4136/05/3603- © 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2005, pp. 193–199. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 3, 2005, pp. 215–221.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Tarasov.
The problem of nesting site tenacity has an impor-
tant place in population ecology, because this parame-
ter characterizes the strategy of species in their annual
distribution over the ranges. In the willow ptarmigan
), both males and females nest at the
same sites from year to year (Höhn, 1969; Cramp and
Simmons, 1980; Potapov, 1985). For example, experi-
ments on bird banding in western Canada have shown
that only 9% of settled males and 31% of females
change their nesting site in the next year, remaining in
the same locality (Schieck and Hannon, 1989). Such
tenacity is explained by the advantages of forming a
family pair with a well-known partner, which occurs
when the birds meet at the same place as before.
Change of nesting site is usually conditioned by nesting
failure or by the loss of a partner in females or mating
failure in males.
In Russian tundras, where
is a true
migratory bird, no such investigations have been per-
formed, and data on site tenacity in this species are
absent. The purpose of this study was to analyze param-
eters of the return and dispersion of birds nesting in the
northern Yamal Peninsula as well as the factors affect-
ing these parameters.
STUDY REGION AND METHODS
Studies were performed from 1989 to 1995 at the
Yaibari Ornithological Station (
located in the lower reaches of the Venuyeuoyakhi
River, at the southern boundary of the arctic tundra sub-
zone on the Yamal Peninsula. As the entire northern
part of Yamal, this area is a ﬂat plane with elevations
varying by no more than 10–15 m. Slow-ﬂowing rivers
have wide ﬂoodplains with bogs and lakes. Upland
areas are under moss–lichen and arctic tundras of dif-
ferent types, with small streams, upland bogs, and
lakes. The vegetation consists mainly of mosses,
lichens, herbaceous plants and creeping willows. The
shrub layer (mainly of
, up to 25–30 cm
high) appears only in the lowest areas. The ﬂat terrain
provides for a uniform distribution of nesting
The results described below were obtained in a con-
plot with a ratio of upland and lowland
biotopes that is typical of the surrounding tundra. Its
area was divided into 100
100-m squares using pegs
with conspicuous labels (letters and ﬁgures), which
served as landmarks during bird watching. Each year,
ptarmigans inhabiting the plot were individually
marked with color bands or by staining ﬂight feathers.
Territorial males were caught with snares using a
dummy male as a decoy, taking advantage of their
aggressiveness, and females were caught on nests.
From 1989 to 1994, 120 birds were banded. Taking into
account returning birds, 172 individually recognizable
Site Tenacity in the Willow Ptarmigan (
in the Northern Yamal Peninsula
V. V. Tarasov
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Vos’mogo Marta 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144 Russia
Received April 21, 2003
—The return of willow ptarmigans to the sites in which they nested the previous year has been studied
using color banding. No factors inﬂuencing the return index have been revealed, except for its dependence in
males on the time when spring begins in a given year. In northern Yamal, in contrast to the temperate zone, some
surviving birds fail to return to their former nesting sites. Polymorphism of individuals with respect to territorial
behavioral strategy is proposed for
populations at the northern boundary of the species range.
: territorial behavioral strategy, willow ptarmigan, polymorphism, northern Yamal.
1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Return rate, %
Relationship between (
) male return index and (
) date of
appearance of large snow-free areas (10–15% of total tun-
dra area at the Yaibari station).