Ye.N.Matyushkin. A. N. Formozov as a biographer // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.4-12.

Biogeography Department, Faculty of Geography, Moscow State University, 119899 Moscow, Russia

W.O. Pruitt, Jr. Formozov-inspired concepts in snow ecology in North America // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.13-22.

Department of Zoology, The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2

published both in Russian and in English

I first encountered the works of Alexander Nikolaevich Formozov in 1953, when I was on a post-doctoral fellowship on the George Reserve of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. I was floundering in a study of small mammals and their adaptation to winter, but my progress was slow and I lacked focus.

A colleague, Dr. William Prychodko, who had recently emigrated from Ukraine, introduced me to a book on snow and its influence on the ecology of mammals and birds. When Bill translated for me a page here and there it was quite clear that this was the key publication for my study. I resolved to learn Russian so I could access this literature.

Over the next few years I worked at the language. After my post-doctoral fellowship I moved to Alaska and Bill and I sent paragraphs and chapters back and forth in rough and rougher English, German and Russian.

The human mind cannot think about an object or a phenomenon unless there is a name or some way of' identifying it, of circumscribing it, of giving it boundaries. Alexander Nikolaevich's book and published papers did this for snow phenomena.

The English language evolved in a misty, maritime climate where snow was an uncommon occurrence. Consequently there was no selection pressure to evolve special namehandles for phenomena that occurred locally only rarely, if at all. Alexander Nikolaevich's work filled this gap. Now that I had a system of name- handles I began to look at the world through different eyes. Not only could I now differentiate between snow on the ground and snow on the trees as distinct phenomena but I could look at a forest in the summer and identify the effect of snow on the trees in previous winters.

On many field trips in all seasons during my 12 years in Alaska, and, later in northern Canada, I made efforts to talk with native people, particularly the elders. Even then, in the mid-1950's, detailed specific knowledge of snow phenomena was disappearing at a frightful rate before the onslaught of the white mans' culture. I encountered two people who were real gold mines of information. One was Daniel John, an Atha-baskan (Dene). His father had hated the white man and had kept his family in the bush away from the degrading influences of the cities. Consequently, Daniel had learned no saleable skills and was on the lowest socioeconomic level. But he was a treasure-trove of information about the old ways, especially knowledge of the effects of snow cover on animals and plants. And he had a name for nearly everything. My second gold mine was Chester Sivik, an Inuduat from Kotzebue. He was a Kovakmiut, originally from the upper valley of the Kobuk River. This is taiga and altitudinal forest-tundra country. The Kovakmiut are exposed to forest snow and have evolved words for these different snow features. They also retain their cultural knowledge and words for the features of the hard, wind-moved snow of the tundra. They have, therefore, the richest snow vocabulary I have encountered.

Chester Sivik, as a young man, had worked with the Sami reindeer borders who had been brought to north-western Alaska along with the semi-domesticated reindeer. He had absorbed concepts and words from the Sami.

In Finland and Sweden I later encountered Sami reindeer herders. I discovered that, whereas the Kovakmiut and Dene were notably concerned with surface features of a snow cover, the Sami paid particular attention to the base of the snow cover. They also introduced concepts of time-mediated changes which resulted in different types of basal snow which influenced, in different ways, how reindeer could access lichens and other ground vegetation. Finnish and Russian also have contributed words (and therefore concepts) to the lexicon.

We are far from having a complete lexicon, however. For example, I know of three types of hollows in a snow cover around a tree trunk. If the hollow is caused by wind increasing in speed as it swirls around the trunk and scoops out the hollow, it is an anye-manya; if it is caused by snow flakes being caught on the needly branches above, then it is a qamanig. But there also can be a space between the trunk and the wall of api that is caused by solar heat reradiating from the trunk and sublimating the snow wall. This space is frequently used by voles to come up to the surface (possibly to escape a high concentration of CO2 in the pukak space?) I once noted that chickadees (Parus atricapillus and P. hudsonicus) used these hollows as roosting sites for the transitory period of very low ambient light intensity during a full eclipse of the sun. I have yet to encounter a name for this specific snow phenomenon.

Because qali has such ecological importance, my students and I have evolved several generations of qalimeters or instruments to standardize measurements of qali. Of course, such studies (Pmitt 1958; Schaefer 1996) must be piggy-backed on others because there is no financial support available from regular fund-granting agencies for them. On the other hand, calling it "intercepted snow" means it is of immediate interest because it affects the hydrology of spring run-off. Consequently, a big Canadian government research laboratory uses an entire tree, cut off at the base and suspended from a huge scale, as a qalimeter to measure "intercepted snow."

But, let's face it. Although Canada is a "northern nation" geographically, in cultural terms it is southern. Most of the population lives within 100 kilometres or so of the southern border. Moreover, there is tremendous influence by the warm- temperate and subtropical culture of the United States. The result is, in Canada, a cultural aversion to winter and snow.

Although Canada has produced some of the world's greatest naturalists (e.g. - Ernest Thompson Seton) we have, nonetheless, only a poorly-developed cultural tradition for long-term, detailed natural history studies. Moreover, in recent years there has been greater attention (and support) paid to laboratory studies of cellular and molecular biology and the substitution of artificial "keyboard ecology" instead of actual, hands-on field observations, measurements and experiments (Ehrenfeld 1996; Noss 1996). This has been accompanied by actual opposition from "official" organizations of atmospheric physicists to any use of non - English terms. For example, the directions to authors of papers presented at a recent symposium on "snow ecology" included 8 pages of Latin and Greek words and symbols approved for use, but ended with an admonition that "... No use of non-English snow terms is allowed." To me, this smacks of institutionalized racism. In contrast, there has been widespread approval by North American aboriginal leaders of my following the concepts of A.N. Formozov and introducing precise native snow terms into the scientific lexicon.

I have a bibliography of about 675 scientific papers and articles on snow ecology from Canadian and USA sources, but very, very few of them have progressed to using Formozov-inspired precise descriptive snow terms.

The papers fall into several general categories; (1) Detailed studies of animals and plants on, under and in the snow cover, especially considerations of temperature, radiant energy and trophic relations; (2) Chemistry of snow covers, falling, blowing snow, melting snow and run-off; (3) Meteorology and atmospheric physics of snow formation and transport; (4) Ice phenomena, including glaciation, arctic and antarctic considerations;(5) Techniques and instmmentation, sampling; (6) Snow and ice in outdoor education. Only in categories (1) and (6) do we find much use of precise native terms for specific snow phenomena. The other categories are notable for papers with a preponderance of inclusions of snow types confounded into generalities and a failure to differentiate variation.

Not long ago I met a young chap who employed (correctly) the Formozov- inspired native North American snow terms. Delighted, I asked him how he had learned such words. He replied that he had taken a training course in Outdoor Education in Quebec and had been introduced to the terms there. He had found the words so useful that he uses them in his present role as Outward Bound instmctor.

So, although the "official" meteorological organizations discourage the use of any but the imprecise and inadequate English words for snow features, once the Formozov-inspired precise native terms were published in English-language journals the concepts were released. Their usefulness was obvious and they began to be employed. Censorship on any level is never successful.

One way to ensure wide distribution of Formozov-inspired detailed snow terms is to introduce them early to children. Two recent "activity" books for children are especially good in this regards. One entitled "Snow Watch" by Cheryl Archer (1994) presents a series of projects such as making plastic impressions of falling snowflakes, demonstrating the heat of fusion, the colours of snow, pukak and small mammals, glaciation, homemade instruments to measure the characteristics of snow, making a quinzhee, adaptations of mammals and birds to snow and actual use of the terms chionophile, chione-uphore and chionophobe.

Another, larger and more detailed book, is "Knee-High Nature: Winter" by Dianne Hayley and Pat Wishart (1993). Both these books, because of their thorough and precise consideration of snow phenomena, rely heavily on the concepts originally formulated by Alexander Nikolaevich and terms derived from them.

A good example of the importance of recognizing and using precise native terms concerns "feeding craters." This phrase is frequently used in the ecological literature to refer to any type of excavation in the api by Rangifer to access subnivean vegetation. I found that Sam reindeer herders differentiated three types of "feeding craters". These are: (1) snov'dnji or an individual feeding site excavated in the api, separated from other sites by undisturbed api, (2) ties'ki or a roughly circular site of thin, hard and dense snow cover caused by reindeer digging and extending a perimeter expanding into undisturbed api from an original suov'dnjF or group of suov'dnji and, (3) ciegar or a linear extension through undisturbed api of a sequential series of suov'dnji. Actual feeding on ground vegetation occurs only at the terminal end of a ciegar. Excavated snow is kicked back, partially filling the trench with snow that sinters and becomes very hard. I applied my VSmO Snow Index to my observations and found that there was a clear mathematical distinction between snow covers that exhibited the three types (Pmitt 1992). Moreover, the different types were the result of different behavioural reactions of Rangifer, Without the knowledge of these Sami words and concepts, such important behavioural phenomena would probably have remained undetected. For example, the colour photograph on the cover of Miller (1976) is described as being of a "caribou trail," although it has the characteristics of a ciegar.

Another example of the importance of recognizing snow phenomena by precise native terms is the confounding of the surface sculpturings of tundra snow (upsik) and drifting snow (siqoq) under the words "skavier" (Norwegian) or "zastrugi" (Russian). My recognition of the Inupiat (Kovakmiut) words resulted in focused field observations that led to recognition of a cycle of drift formations.

The sequence of drift types appears as follows. Snow particles are released from suspension in the air whenever the speed of air movement is not sufficient to support them. Thus, snow accumulates in microtopo-graphic depressions, stream- beds and behind obstructions (which may themselves be nivographic details). Later winds of greater force or different direction may scour these spots and redeposit the particles elsewhere. On a flat, relatively unobstmcted surface many of these particles advance in groups. A group assumes a characteristic arrow-head shape with the point upwind, a gradually sloping up-wind face and a lee slope which is abmpt and concave laterally. At the tang of the arrow-head the thickness of the drift is greatest. These drifts are known "officially" as barkhans but more accurately, in Inupiat, as kalutoganiq. ("Barkhan" is an Arabic word for a sand drift of similar shape while kalutoganiq refers to this precise snow drift type.) Kalutoganiq migrate downwind as the particles are exposed on the windward face, are moved over. the surface of the drift and then are temporarily immobilized on the steep lee slope. Whenever the wind slackens the kalutoganiq become consolidated through the processes of sublimation and re-crystallization.

Later winds, if of sufficient force, will erode away the kalutoganiq, producing sculptured forms which have great beauty but which are exceedingly difficult to traverse. The sculpturings are widely known by the terms zastmgi (Russian) or skavier (Norwegian) but are more accurately known as kaioglaq (Inupiat). Zastmgi or skavier refer to surface sculpturing in general. Kaioglaq refers to laige, hard sculpturings while the word tumarinviq (Inupiat) refers to small zastrugi or "ripple marks" which are the last remains of kaioglaq.

Kaioglaq eventually may be eroded away completely and the particles regrouped downwind again into kalutoganiq. A late stage of kaioglaq is the formation of overhanging drifts or mapsuk. The windward point of a ridge of kaioglaq is eroded faster at base level than above it, thus forming the characteristic anvil tip which points upwind. This succession of drift forms may be diagrammed as in Figure (Pmitt 1966).

Further research is needed, especially regarding sub-nivean temperatures and temperature gradients through the varying thicknesses and densities of the upsik (as kalutoganiq form and move) and how they affect subnivean plants and animals.

Alexander Nikolaevich's introduction of terms from native languages for precise identification of snow phenomena was a major contribution to the science of ecology. Of probably equal or greater technical significance was his classification of animals into* three groups based on their ecological relations to snow. "Snow cover, for many species, is the most important element of environmental resistance and the struggle against this particular element is almost beyond some species' ability. Such species do not inhabit snowy regions and we can unite them into a group that avoids snow, or 'chionophobes' -- the small cats, steppe antelope, steppe sand grouse, black partridge, many small terrestrial birds, etc. This group is connected by a number of gradations with the species that can withstand winters with considerable snow. These species we can call 'chioneuphores' - (moose, reindeer, wolverine, wolf, fox, many voles, moles, shrews, etc.). Finally there are forms which have characteristic adaptations (winter-white coloration, winter peculiarities of foot- coverings, etc.) which were undoubtedly perfected by snow cover taking part in selection. The ranges of these forms lie completely or almost completely in regions of hard and continuous winters with much snow (willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan, varying hare, arctic fox, collared lemming, etc.). 'Chionees9 (snowy) or 'chinophiles' (snow-lovers) are quite appropriate names for these forms..." (Formozov 1946).

Not only is this classification important for recognition of the glacial and post- glacial history of northern animals but recognition of these categories has great potential value for management. Scarce funds need not be spent on attempts to increase numbers of individuals of a chionophobe species in a region subject to frequent winters with excessive snow cover.

I consider "The Classics of Biology" to be those books that present ideas which cause one to look on the natural world through entirely.different glasses, from a different perspective There are very few of these "classics":

Darwin: "Origin of Species," Eiton: "Animal Ecology," Kropotkin: "Mutual Aid," Tinbergen: "The Study of Instinct," Wynne-Edwards: "Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behaviour," to which we must add - Alexander Nikolaevich Formozov: "Snow As An Integral Factor of the Environment and its Importance in the Ecology of Mammals and Birds" (1946).

To paraphrase E.0. Wilson (1984: 74), Alexander Nikolaevich Formozov "lives on as he would have liked, in the irreversible change he caused in an important branch of science."

I am grateful to Dr. N.A. Formozov for inviting me to contribute to this memorial volume and to A.A. Bonch-Osmolovskaya for her skillful translation from the English original.

F.R. Shtilmark. A. N. Formozov's contribution to the work of nature preserves // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.23-33.

I.A. Shilov, S.A. Shilova. A.N. Formozov as a head of winter student practical work // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.34-35.

I.M. Oliger. With Formozov in nature // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.36-44.

A.N. Formozov. About S.I. Ognyov // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.45-47.

V.I. Osmolovskaya. My memories on S.I. Ognyov // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.48-49.

Yu.M. Smirin. The art of animal painting as a method of zoological investigation // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.50-60.

Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, 119899 Moscow, Russia


The question of applying animal painting techniques in zoological investigations is discussed. The most fruitful collaborations between artists and scientists arc examined. The combination of artist and scientist in the same person found to be best. The artistic work of Alexander Nikolaevich Formozov is a good example of this combination.

D.A. Krivolutskiy. Life forms and animal diversity // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.61-67.

Faculty of Geography, Moscow State University, 119899 Moscow, Russia


A.N. Formozov studied animal life-forms during investigations of birds and mammals and now life forms can be used as biomarkers of macroevolution processes. The author supposes the evolution of life forms to be the first step of adaptation. The macroevolution of Articulata and Protozoa is discussed.

N.A. Formozov, I.Yu. Baklushinskaya. The species status of a new pika (Ochotona hoffmanni Formozov et al., 1996) and its inclusion in the list of Russian fauna // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.68-72.

Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, 119899 Moscow, Russia


The taxonomic position of a new pika form inhabiting the southern edge of Hentey Mountains (Mongolia) and the southern part of Chita province (Russia) is discussed. The morphological, bioacoustic and kariological characteristics show that it is a separate species Ochotona hoffinanni Formozov et al., 1996.

Ye.V. Karaseva, E.Z. Ermolaeva, A.Yu. Telitsina, N.V. Stepanova. The distribution and ecology of the field mouse (Apodemus agrarius Pall.) in not built-up regions of Moscow // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.73-80.

A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

State Sanitary-Epidemiological centre, Moscow, Russia


The distribution and ecology of small mammals were studied in not built-up regions of Moscow over 30 years (the work may be estimated as 1792820 trap days). The field mouse is the most numerous and widely distributed rodent in the city. The greatest number of field mice were registered in the old city parks (50% of ale those trapped). In grasses, waterlogged places, bottomlands of rivers and springs, and near ponds were registered about 35% of ale the animals trapped. In other biotops (edges of city afforest and gardens) the field mouse was not so numerous (only 10% of ale those trapped). The euryfagous strategy, high motility and some other features of field mouse behavior account for the wide distribution and great number of this species in Moscow.

Yu.V. Bobkov, Yu.S. Ravkin, L.G. Vartapetov, B.N. Fomin, K.K. Toropov, S.M. Tsibulin, V.S. Zhukov, T.K. Blinova, E.L. Shor, I.V. Pokrovskaya, S.A. Soloviev, V.M. Anufriev, M.A. Grabovskiy. The distribution of the chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus Laxm.) in western Siberia // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.81-87.

Institute of Animal Taxonomy and Ecology, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia


In Western and Central Siberia the greatest chipmunk population was registered in forests with dark-coniferous trees. It was shown that this rodent avoids the treeless and humid territories. The greatest chipmunk population was observed in the southern taiga of the Angara region in the northeastern Altai. The decreasing trend of these character isties is directed through Western Siberia to the west and from the southern taiga to the North and South. The chipmunk was not observed in the tundra and steppe zones. The decrease in chipmunk population reproduction and productivity is a result of the decrease in forests with dark-coniferous trees (Siberian pines). The chipmunk population in one year may differ two or three times from that in another year.

Yu.I. Melnikov, Yu.A. Durnev. The expansion of the eastern boundary of some bird species' ranges in central and eastern Siberia // Bull. Mosc. Soc. Natur. Biological Series. 1999. V. 104, part 5. P.88-95.


The eastward expansion of 36 bird species' range boundaries was shown on the basis of original and literary information analysis. The main cause of the ranges boundary expansion is the anthropogenic changes of natural ecosystems and the gradual increase this century of the annual average temperature.