Fauna of the Kronotsky Reserve

Main page / Territories / Kronotsky Reserve / Fauna

MAMMALS of the KRONOTSKY RESERVE — the list of species

MAMMALS of the KRONOTSKY RESERVE — Photo Gallery

BIRDS of the KRONOTSKY RESERVE - the list of species

IHTIOFAUNA OF THE KRONOTSKY RESERVE

SYSTEMATIC LIST OF THE INSECTS REGISTERED IN THE VALLEY OF THE GEYSERS

Marine fishes

As in other parts of the coastal (littoral) zone of the Eastern Kamchatka, different species of crabs, sea urchins, and starfishes are found here. The abundance of mollusks attracts gray whales to Olga Bay and adjoining waters. Coastal waters of the reserve are rich with plankton, the main food source for many gregarious fishes.

Fish fauna: there are 104 species of fishes found in the reserve. The actual number of species is much greater, as the inventory of marine species is only preliminary. In the marine waters, most of the mass species typical for the shoreline of Eastern Kamchatka are found, from the small capelin to the large salmon shark.

In the region of the Kronotsky Peninsula, there are only two deep water areas, thus deep water fishes in the three-mile zone are uncommon.

The most common fish species are different types of gobies, greenlings, Pollock, herring, and flounder. These, along with other marine fishes, form an excellent food base for an abundance of killer whales, Steller sea lions, spotted seals, Staineger’s seal, auks, cormorants, fulmars, gulls, and others.

Cyclostomata (jawless fishes) are represented by Arctic lamprey. Gnatostomata (with jaws) are represented by salmon shark, spiny dogfish, and several species of rays. The foundation of fish fauna is bony fishes.

Freshwater fishes

Anadromous Pacific salmon species, dolly varden (malma), and white-spotted char form the bulk of the freshwater fish fauna. Pink salmon is the most significant species (with 200–500,000 spawning here annually), followed by keta or chum salmon (30–70,000 thousand), and Coho or silver salmon (50,000). Sockeye salmon is uncommon here and restricted to a few rivers; Chinook salmon spawn only in the Bogachyovka River, but some specimens have appeared in other rivers. All species of Pacific salmon spawn in the reserve except masu (cherry) salmon. Parasalmo (Onchorhynchus) mykiss (mikizha or Kamchatka trout) has been found only in the Tikhaya River, and more rarely in the Shumnaya and Kronotskaya rivers. Only once was anadromous salmon found in Semyachinsky Lagoon.

In addition to the anadromous form of dolly varden (malma), its freshwater form has been found in some rivers. Jack forms of malma have been observed on the Kronotsky Peninsula in some shallow rivers and brooks, isolated from the ocean by waterfalls. Fish fauna of Kronotskoye Lake is very unique, where a freshwater form of sockeye (kokanee) is found, as well as some forms of lake malma (some experts consider them separate species). Spawning anadromous and freshwater malma migrate into the source of the Kronotskaya River, and some cases of Coho migrations to the lake have been documented.

Resident isolated forms of malma, including jacks, are found in the Krokur maar lake. There is an isolated malma form in the Uzon caldera (Dalneye Lake, Tsentralnoye Lake, and the upper reaches of the Shumnaya River).

The fish fauna of mouths of some rivers and lagoons varies slightly due to the presence of starry flounder, smelt, and cod. Three-spined stickleback and ninespine stickleback spawning in some large rivers.

The congregation of spawning fishes in marine waters and entering river estuaries and lagoons plays an important seasonal role for marine mammals and carnivores (from large brown bears to the small weasel), for big fish-eating birds (sea eagles and osprey), and for gulls.

Salmon spawning areas are one of the keystone components of the reserve’s ecosystems.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are no reptiles in the Reserve.

Siberian salamander (Salamandrella keiserlingii Dybowski, 1870) is the only amphibian in the reserve. It is most abundant in the littoral valleys, and has also been observed in other areas, such as the Kronotskoye Lake basin (at the altitude of 400 meters above sea level).

An isolated mountain population of the salamander has been identified in the Uzon Caldera, 650 meters above sea level.

Birdlife

There are 234 species (237 including subspecies) of birds in the reserve. This list includes rare vagrant birds, found on Kamchatka only in Kronotsky Reserve only: spectacled eider, red-crowned crane, Chinese egret, greater sand plover, little gull, Pallas’s gull (2 cases), black-winged stilt, Commander winter wren, and red-footed booby.

Forth nine species and subspecies of birds are listed in the Red Data Book of Kamchatka Krai, and 31 species are in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation.

The dominate species in the reserve are waterfowls and waders (45–63%) and shrub-arboreal birds (27–40%). Anseriformes and Charadriiformes are the richest and most varied in their specific composition. The composition of forest species has taiga features, but is significantly poorer than on the mainland (island phenomenon taiga fauna); about 30% of forest nesting bird subspecies are Kamchatka endemics, characterized mainly by diminished feather pigmentation (usually the most intense in the Palearctic) and/or by their larger sizes; but sometimes species differ due to rich and bright coloration, such as the black-billed cappercaillie (Tetrao parvirostris kamtschaticus Kittlitz, 1852) and the Kamchatka willow tit, among others. Among nesting birds, eurybiotic species dominate, inhabiting a wide spectrum of habitats, sometimes more widespread than in other parts of their range. This contributes to the high plasticity of dominate species and to the presence of free ecologic niches, which is very typical for Kamchatka.

Along the coastline, spring and autumn bird migrations are well pronounced.

The coastal area is very important for the wintering of many waterfowls; as is the case for some freshwater basins.

More than 40 pairs of Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus Pallas, 1811) nest on territory of the reserve; nesting areas of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos (Linnaeus, 1758)) and gyrfalcon (Falco rusiicolus Linnaeus, 1758) are also likely. Nesting sites of peregrine falcon (Falco percgrinus Tunstall, 1777) are common. Seven breeding colonies of 300 pairs of Aleutian tern (Sterna aleutica Baird, 1869) occupy the coastal tundra. Within the reserve, 69 colonies of nine marine colonial birds (auks, puffins, horned puffins, cormorants, gulls) have been described, with total number of 2,000 pairs. Wetlands of the reserve play a significant role in the nesting of Anseriformes (swans), numbering 3,500 pairs and 20 species, and as resting areas during the migration period and overwintering.

Mammals

The mammal fauna is typically peninsular and rather poor in species diversity. Subspecies found only on Kamchatka (endemics) include: northern pika (Ochotona hyperborea ferruginea (Schrenk, 1858)), arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii stejnegeri (J. Allen, 1903)), sable (Martes zibellina kamtschadalica (Birula, 1919)), bighorn sheep (Ovis nivicola nivicola Eschscholtz, 1829), and others. Kamchatka shrew (Sorex camtschaticus Judin, 1972) is an endemic species for Kamchatka and the Sea of Okhotsk Region. A total of 54 mammals are found in the reserve, of which 15 are listed in the Red Data Book of Kamchatka Krai and 11 are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.

There are 29 native terrestrial mammal species, although squirrel and lynx have been recently introduced. Squirrels have inhabited this territory since the 1920s, and lynx since the 1950s. The first lynxes came to the reserve from the south after 1971. American mink and muskrat also came from the south, from the direction of the Zhupanova River. Mink has occupied all suitable biotopes and is a common species now. The distribution of muskrat is restricted by the Semyachinsky Lagoon. In 1990, moose appeared in the Shchapina River basin, have since occupied river valleys. Recently, moose have begun to pass through the mountain tundra during warm periods.

Otters inhabit almost every river; bighorn sheep and black-capped marmot inhabit not only mountain tops and volcanic plateaus, but also slopes of the high terraces along the coast. Arctic ground squirrel and northern pika are mainly alpine animals.

Other mammals inhabit mainly forests, but due to their high ecological tolerance, they can live on open treeless as well.

All marine mammals are seasonal inhabitants of the reserve. Northern fur seals appear sometimes during the migration period; polar bears appear as a result of the rare drifting of polar ice packs from the north.

The most significant mammals are:

• Sable (the reserve has been charged with the task of its conservation, and its population has stabilized; moreover the territory has become an important natural refuge for sable migrating to neighboring territories, where the species is hunted).
• Reindeer — the reserve is the only place on Kamchatka where the core of these formerly abundant ungulates has been preserved. Reindeer number about 2,500.
• Brown bear: more than 700 individuals inhabit the protected area. Bears spend spring foraging along the coast, and at the first thawed patches of early grasses. In summer, they disperse widely and later amass at salmon rivers and on the berry tundra. In fall, they switch to feeding on ash berry and Siberian pine cones. Some males continue to visit spawning areas of keta (chum) and winter Coho (silver) salmon even in early January. They hibernate when the snow is deep.
• Wolf and wolverine are the most important predators of the reserve ecosystems. There are about 20–25 wolves and 200 wolverines in the reserve.
• One reproductively functioning population of Steller sea lions is found on the coast, numbering 400 individuals, of which 100 are juveniles.

In 1972, after an almost 100-year absence, sea otters began to appear in the coastal areas of the reserve, and now there is no reason to fear for the Kronotsky population of sea otters. This fact is of significant importance, as it highlights the role of the reserve in restoration of endangered populations. Indeed, sea otters in the last century were totally exterminated along Eastern Kamchatka, even though, in those days, Kronotsky Bay was called “Bobrovoye more” (Otter Sea), speaking of the once abundant population.

In the past decade in the Olga Bay and neighboring waters of the reserve, a feeding school of gray whales is rapidly increasing in numbers. The majority of these whales belong to the Okhotsk-Korean population (KkRF-1).

Did You Know

The Semyachicksky estuary is counted as one of the most important wetlands as a key ornithological territory, protected by the Ramsar Convention.