Burrow

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burrow

[′bər·ō]
(mining engineering)
A refuse heap at a coal mine.

Burrow

 

a temporary or permanent shelter constructed by an animal in soil or, more rarely, solid rock; in the wood or the bark of trees; or in the bottom of bodies of water. Burrows provide protection against predators and shelter against bad weather (a relatively constant and favorable microclimate is created in them); they are used for storing food and for reproduction and raising of young. Primary (nesting) burrows often perform all these functions, while auxiliary burrows perform just one function.

The primary burrows of mammals are usually connected with auxiliary burrows by paths leading to feeding areas and to above-ground shelters. The complex burrows of marmots, gerbils, microtines, and other rodents consist of tunnels and chambers for nests and food supplies. They can be as deep as 5–7 m and have from several dozen to hundreds of entrances. The burrows of many animals (large rodents, arctic foxes, and common foxes) are renovated and altered from generation to generation and may last hundreds or even thousands of years. Such adaptation of the place of habitation to the needs of the inhabitants, constantly maintained by an uninterrupted line of generations, is an important element in the life of a species.

The burrows of amphibians, reptiles, and birds are simple and small, often nothing more than mere depressions in the ground. The burrows of invertebrates (worms and insects) are equally simple. The complex systems of passageways made by insects that are wood pests serve the purpose of feeding tunnels.

In loose soil or ground litter, animals (worms, insects, and insect larvae) make passages by moving particles of soil with their bodies, “mining” the ground. In solid ground, they use their claws (talpids and sokhors) or break up the substrate with their beaks (bank swallows and bee-eaters). Some animals use their jaws to break up the earth and gnaw out the burrow; this is typical of many insects (various wasps and bees) and those mammals (mole rats, mole voles, and jerboas) whose incisors protrude out of the mouth and are very powerful. Pholadid mollusks bore through rock by secreting an acid that breaks down the rock.

Burrows, especially complex ones, are sometimes shared by the owners with many other animals. For example, more than 200 species of myriopods, mites, ticks, fleas, true lice, and other cohabitants live in the burrows of great gerbils in the deserts of Middle Asia. During hot and cold seasons, snakes, lizards, tortoises, and turtles take refuge in other animals’ burrows. Some birds, for example, wheatears and various sheldrakes, including the ruddy sheldrake, nest in the burrows of other animals. Hedgehogs and shrews live in burrows they do not build themselves.

The complex biocenosis of a burrow may ensure the prolonged existence of the agents of dangerous diseases (the plague, leishmaniases, spirochetoses, and others); as a result, an area where there are many such burrows becomes a stable natural seat of these diseases.

REFERENCES

Naumov, N. P. Ekologiia zhivotnykh, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1963.
Pavlovskii, E. N. Prirodnaia ochagovost’ transmissivnykh boleznei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Dinesman, L. G. Izuchenie istorii biogeotsenozov po noram zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1968.

N. P. NAUMOV

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The burrowing activity of beavers is another significant aspect of the beaver impact on land reclamation canals.
The burrowing behavior of Fallicambarus gordoni, regardless of its cause, has strong local ecological effects through soil mixing/disturbance and the fossorial habitat creation.
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Ectoparasites have been identified on adult and nestling Burrowing Owls during the breeding season (Hubbard 1968; Thomsen 1971; Tyler & Buscher 1975; Philips & Dindal 1977; Clayton 1990; Baird & Saunders 1992; Smith & Belthoff 2001b), however, nothing is known about the occurrence of ectoparasites on Burrowing Owls wintering in southern Texas.
The first objective of this study was to document nesting numbers and densities of burrowing owls in prairie dog towns and pastures with badger burrows in the Nebraska panhandle.
Tarantulas in the genus Aphonopelma burrow as juveniles and adults, and although some individuals may opportunistically use rock piles as temporary refuge sites (Baerg, 1958), subterranean burrowing is a significant component to their life history.
The length of the burrowing animals cannot be deduced from the burrow morphology as animals with very different length can produce burrows of a similar diameter.
One species for which we lack extralimital information is the western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypogea), which inhabits dry grasslands in North and South America characterized by sparse vegetation (Haug et al.
Outside Pakistan burrowing and hoarding by bandicoot rats have been reported from many habitats in India and Bangladesh, and these studies are summarized in Table II.