Scientific Researches of the Nature Reserve
Currently the scientific staff has 2 people, regular investigations are being held on 10 topics including the creation of the Annals of the Nature.
All the members of the scientific department carry researches on the clue objects of the ecosystems of the island. These objects include: Polar Bear, White Goose, complex of miophag predators (Snowy owl, Arctic fox, Pomarine jaeger), musk ox, reindeer, impact of the hoofed animals on the vegetation communities, sea mammals (web-footed mammals and cataceas), fauna and arthopods’ population. The latter is the topic investigated by the former employee of the nature reserve who currently works in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences. There are two major projects mainly familiar to the world academic community – population ecology and monitoring of populations of White geese (V. Baranyuk); Population ecology and, behavior and biocenotic relationship of the miophag predators on Wrangel island (I. Menyushina); population ecology, population state and protection measures of the Polar bear in the area of Wrangel island. (N. Ovsyannikov). For the last two years the geography of Polar bear investigation expanded beyond Wrangel island to the whole Russian Arctic. In July-August of 2005 N. Ovsyannikov made observations over the Polar bears and web-footed mammals along the course of the Northern Sea Route and in the ices of Mendeleev Ridge from the board of scientific diesel-electric research vessel Akademik Fyodorov. In May of the same year he took part in Austrian-Russian expedition to Frantz Josef Land in memory of Payer and Weyprecht. For the first time it became possible to correlate the observations over the Polar bears on the ices to the North of Wrangel island to latitude 79.5' with the process of Polar bears’ gathering on the island. In July-August of 2007 some observations were carried out over the activity and distribution of Polar bears in the central Arctic Basin including the North Pole.
The creation of the nature reserve was closely tied to the necessity to protect unique nesting sites of White Geese in Asia. In the middle of the 20th century Wrangel island was the only place in the Old World where considerable colonies of that species existed.
Annual monitoring of the White Geese population of the island was initiated by the Doctor of Biology E. Syroechkovsky in 1969 (1969-1981, 1984), and continued by K. Litvin (1979-1985) and V. Baranyuk (1982 – present time) and has been done for the last 40 (!) years. These investigations are unique in its duration and intensity. Many issues have been studied so far: ecology, behavior, population structure, genetics, the mechanisms of colonies’ creation are among them. The uniqueness of the island’s White Geese population is explained on the first place by the fact that here the colony combines birds coming from two different overwintering sites. These geese differ in morphometry, genetics and phenotype. As they winter in North America, this makes them an object of international cooperation. Since 1976 (!) the monitoring has been done in cooperation with American and Canadian scientists. Since 1988 a lot of projects connected with the investigation and protection of White Geese have been carried out together with the Russian Academy of Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, American Fish and Wild Service, Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection. These projects involved mass individual labeling and further observations over the birds in the places of reproduction, migration routes and overwintering sites; overwintering sites restoring in Japan; the usage of radio and space telemetry. More than 100 scientists from Russia, Canada, the USA, Mexico and Japan were engaged in the work. The process of the projects were reported in mass media of the USA, Canada and Japan. Four popular scientific films were made. The results of the research were presented at Russian and international conferences and provided the basis for more than 100 publications in local and international editions.
The significance of the island as the clue territory for profound White Geese monitoring becomes extremely important for the fact that in this Arctic sector the climate change influence on biotic and abiotic components is dramatically high.