Habitat

Caprinae are primarily associated with hilly or mountainous terrain, except for the tundra-living muskox. The altitu-dinal range within which they occur is wide. Nubian ibex have been recorded on cliffs around the Dead Sea down to 1,150 ft (350 m) below sea level. Long-tailed goral in the Russian Far East and snow sheep in Siberia both occur on coastal cliffs at or near sea level. In the Himalaya, Karakoram mountains, and on the Tibetan Plateau, Siberian ibex have been recorded at elevations of 22,000 ft (6,710 m), blue sheep at 21,500 ft (6,500 m), and argali at 19,000 ft (5,800 m).

Caprinae are adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions. Musk ox, thinhorn sheep, and snow sheep inhabit Arctic and subarctic regions year-round. Aoudad, Arabian tahr, Nubian ibex, and desert bighorn have adapted to the extreme desert heat of the Sahara, Arabia, and southwest United States. Urial in the deserts of Central Asia need to cope with high summer temperatures and very cold winters. All these desert-living species can obviously tolerate extreme aridity. Other species such as Nilgiri tahr, takin, and serows in subtropical Asia also live in seasonally wet habitats. Red goral (Naemorhedus baileyi) habitat in southeast Tibet has abundant rainfall, over 78 in (198 cm) annually.

Most species are primarily associated with rugged, precipitous terrain, either open or forested. Mountain goat, Capra species, Barbary sheep, tahrs, blue sheep, snow sheep, and

Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) in Bavaria, Germany. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Peter Weimann. Reproduced by permission.)

Siberia. Walia ibex survive in a tiny area of the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. The genus Ovis occurs from Western Europe across Eurasia to northeastern Siberia and into North America. Mouflons and urial are found on the islands of Corsica and Cyprus and eastwards to the upper Indus Valley in the extreme north of India and in Central Asia. Argalis also have a wide Central Asian distribution. This extends from just south of Lake Baikal in the north southwards to the northern side of the Himalaya, and from Kazakhstan in the west to Inner Mongolia in the east. Snow sheep are restricted to mountain ranges of northeast Siberia. Thin-horn sheep occur in Alaska and northwest Canada, while bighorns have a much more extensive range in western Canada and through the western United States, reaching Baja California in Mexico.

Introductions have extended this original distribution. Himalayan tahr and chamois have been introduced successfully to New Zealand. Barbary sheep are among several species of exotic bovids that have been introduced to the southwest United States for sport hunting. Barbary sheep have also been introduced to Spain, mouflons to several parts of Europe, and

Angora goats (Capra prisca) in fields of Turkey. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Barbara Wright. Reproduced by permission.)
Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) kids leap and play in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. (Photo by Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

North American sheep utilize cliffs for escape and occur in steep, rocky, or broken country. Serows, gorals, and takin occupy forest or scrub-covered mountains. Some species seem to revel in the most difficult and inaccessible parts of the mountain ranges. Himalayan tahr, markhor, chamois, and goral move utilize both forests or scrub, and alpine meadows or other open areas. Argali and urial prefer more open and less rocky parts of the ranges but they do not avoid steep terrain.

Vegetation types occupied also show a wide range, from desert and semidesert through all montane zones to the high-cold environments of the Tibetan Plateau. Forested habitats include boreal evergreen, temperate deciduous, bamboo, and rhododendron scrub and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia. Walia ibex occur in giant heath scrub in Ethiopia's Simien Highlands.

0 0

Post a comment