Zaks Svetlana Sergeevna, Candidate of biological sciences, senior staff scientist, research department, Penza State University (40 Krasnaya street, Penza, Russia), firstname.lastname@example.org
Kuzmin Anton Alekseevich, Candidate of biological sciences, associate professor, sub-department of biotechnologies and technosphere safety, Penza State Technological University (1a/11 Baydukova lane/Gagarina street, Penza, Russia), email@example.com
Titov Sergey Vital'evich, Doctor of biological sciences, professor, head of sub-department of zoology and ecology, Penza State University (40 Krasnaya street, Penza, Russia), firstname.lastname@example.org
Background. In the territory of middle Volga region there is registered a depres-sion of the speckled ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus Güld.). It is caused not only by direct extermination, the decreasing genetic diversity and reproductive po-tential in extant colonies, but also by an increasing environment’s fragmentation. The goal of the study is to determine the actual distribution of the speckled ground squirrel in the eastern part of it’s area, to estimate the scales of the decreasing num-ber and to reveal the species’ biotopic preferences in actual conditions.
Materials and methods. The research materials included the results of field stud-ies in 2014–2016 in Ulyanovsk region. The study of distribution and population conditions of Spermophilus suslicus were conducted by the car route registration method. The route’s total length was about 8000 km. 105 habitats were investigated and 26 local colonies of the speckled ground squirrel were found.
Results. As a result of the survey of 60 habitats suitable for ground squirrels in the territory of Ulyanovsk region, there have been revealed 26 colonies of the speckled ground squirrel in 9 districts of Ulyanovsk region. The average density of individuals in the studied colonies was 4,4 individuals per ha, the total area of colonies was 1141,7 ha (11,42 km2), the total number was 4850 individuals. About 70,2 % of the speckled ground squirrel populations in Ulyanovsk region were situat-ed in native habitats.
Conclusions. The actual distribution of the speckled ground squirrel is close to critical. Populations are depressed and need protection. The fragmented structure of the natural habitat of Spermophilus suslicus is formed due to natural and anthropogenic barriers.
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