ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2009, Vol. 40, No. 6, pp. 429–433. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2009.
Original Russian Text © N.I. Markov, 2009, published in Ekologiya, 2009, No. 6, pp. 454–458.
Badgers are burrowers. Their communal burrows,
known as setts, are often extensive and have a complex
architecture. For example, Likhachev (1956)
described the sett about 130 m
in area in which the
total length of underground galleries reached 81 m.
The sett described by Roper (1993) occupied an area
of 1744 m
and had 198 entrances, with the total
length of galleries being 879 m. Many specialists con
sider that the construction of such complex burrows or
systems of interconnected colonies is an important
mode of adaptation in the environment. According to
Roper (1993), conditions of burrowing largely deter
mine the social and spatial structure of the species
To date, trends in the spatial distribution, architec
ture, and functional features of different types of bad
ger setts have been studied in detail in the western part
of the species range: on the British Isles (Macdonald
et al., 2004), in Spain (Revilla et al., 2001; Revilla and
Palomares, 2002), Germany (for review, see Hoff
mann, 1999), Poland (Kowalczyk et al., 2000), the
Czech Republic and Slovakia (Bi ik et al., 2000). In
Russia, detailed studies were performed in the Volga–
Kama region (Gorshkov, 1997), the Northwestern
region (Danilov and Tumanov, 1976); and in the south
of Western Siberia (Shibanov, 1990). Available data on
the biology of badgers in the north of Western Siberia
are limited to Laptev’s (1958) article in the mono
graph on mammals of this region. According to this
author, the highest population density of this species is
observed in large river valleys and forest–steppe land
scapes; the area between the 60th parallel and the
Irtysh–Ob confluence is the zone of low density, and
the Ob and Irtysh valleys are zones of medium density.
However, no qualitative data on the abundance of bad
gers or their setts are presented.
Badger populations at the periphery of the species
range differ from central populations in certain
parameters. In particular, the territory used by an indi
vidual family group increases in size, the average sett
size (characterized by the number of entrances) is
smaller, but the density of the setts is higher (Revilla
et al., 2001; Brøseth, 1997, cited from Revilla et al.,
2001). These trends may reflect species adaptation to
suboptimal or pessimal environmental conditions.
The purpose of this study was to verify the above
assumption by surveying two island groups of badgers
in the middle taiga subzone of Western Siberia (i.e.,
near the northern boundary of their distribution in
Asia (Laptev, 1958) and comparing the results with
data from other parts of the species range.
Studies were performed on the Bol’shoi Chukhtin
skii and Malyi Chukhtinskii islands located in the Ob
River floodplain 30 km north of KhantyMansiisk, in
the region of the Ob–Irtysh interfluves. Climatic
parameters on both islands are similar: average Janu
ary and July temperatures are – 19.8 and +17.5
snow cover period is 190 days, and the prevailing wind
direction is southwesterly.
Bol’shoi Chukhtinskii Island.
Its area is 865 ha;
perimeter length, 16 km; approximate geographic
coordinates of the center are 61.23
soils prevail. The island is covered by fir–spruce–
Siberian stone pine forests with birch, which are
replaced by aspen–birch forests along the banks.
Spatial Distribution and Structure of Badger (
Hodgson, 1847) Setts in Islands of the Ob River Floodplain
N. I. Markov
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Vos’mogo Marta, 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144 Russia;
Received February 7, 2008
—Badger setts in two model areas located in the middle taiga zone of Western Siberia have been stud
ied in order to estimate the density of their distribution and the proportions of large, medium, and small setts.
A comparative geographic analysis of the structure of setts within the badger geographic range has been per
formed. The results show that in the study area, regardless of its peripheral location, the density of setts is sim
ilar to that in the central parts of the range.
: badger, Western Siberia, setts, range periphery.