Mapping the Spring and Winter Distribution of Kalmykia's Saiga Population - Graham Elliott, MSc Thesis
The saiga is a critically endangered, migratory antelope of the Eurasian steppe. Recent research suggests the migratory behaviour of the saiga in Kalmykia has been disrupted and their seasonal distribution is unclear. An extensive area of likely saiga habitat was identified across central and southern Kalmykia, centred around the Stepnoi and Chernye Zemli Biosphere reserves. Key predictors of saiga presence were distance to the protected areas and distance to water; the probability of saiga presence increased in areas closer to water and the reserves. Based on this study, participatory monitoring has clear potential to contribute to our understanding of saiga distribution and migratory behaviour.
The main aim of this study was to identify saiga distribution in Kalmykia during winter and spring, based on data from a participatory monitoring programme. Models were produced to identify the drivers of distribution and predict likely areas of saiga occupancy.