A., S. Shokalo, Yu. Yankevich. 2021. The speckled
ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus) in Belarus:
new localities, old threats, and prospects of conservation.
Theriologia Ukrainica, 21: 84–90.
ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus)
in Belarus: new localities, old threats, and
prospects of conservation
Andrey Abramchuk (http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6325-8365),
Sergey Shokalo, Yuriy Yankevich
Brest regional branch
of NGO "Ahova Ptushak Batskaoshchyny"
( Brest, Republic of Belarus)
2021. Vol. 21: 84–90.
English, with Ukrainian summary,
titles of tables, captures to figs
was carried out as part of the project "Superrodent"
and is devoted to the description of new record
localities of the spotted ground squirrel (Spermophilus
suslicus s. l.) discovered by the authors during
2019–2020. It is one of the rarest species of rodents
and mammals in the fauna of Belarus in general.
This species suffers from anthropogenic changes
in the environment and its agricultural development
and to ensure its protection it is listed in a number
of ‘red lists’, including the IUCN Red List and
the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus (since 2015).
The search for ground squirrel habitats was carried
out in two stages. The first included the analysis
of the literature on already known localities and
biotope preferences, including cartographic data
to identify promising areas to search for. The second
stage provides a direct survey of prospective sites,
their photo documentation and a detailed description.
In total, nine new habitats of the species were
identified within four administrative districts
of Minsk Oblast of Belarus: Nesvizh Raion (4), Stowbtsy
Raion (1), Baranivka Raion (1) and Kapyl Raion (2).
In addition, an inspection of the sites previously
identified by the authors revealed that some of
them have already disappeared or are in critical
state, the reason for which is primarily the land
ploughing. In fact, today there are only six viable
suslik settlements in Belarus. All of them are confined
to elevated areas of the Kopyl ridge, which is located
in the northern part of the Continental biogeographic
region. Most of the surviving colonies are not large
and consist of a few dozen to 150 living burrows.
The number of the only large colony (Yushevichi)
is estimated at 10 to 11 thousand individuals. All
other inhabited colonies are located at a distance
as far as 6 km from the Yushevichi colony. In other
regions of Belarus, despite searches, ground squirrels
are currently not found. The key threats to the
species' existence are the ploughing of colonies
and the overgrowth of tall grasses and trees and
shrubs. In our opinion, for the long-term preservation
of the species in the country, it is necessary to
establish an appropriate protection regime (management),
as well as the implementation of comprehensive monitoring:
monitoring of threats, successions of plant communities,
and the state of ground squirrel populations. Suggestions
for protection and further monitoring of locations
are given. Among other initiatives, the authors
sent proposals to local authorities on granting
protection status to areas with settlements of ground
ground squirrel, rare
species, distribution, colonies, protection, Belarus
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Republic of Belarus: Rare and Endangered Species
of Wild Animals. Belasussian Encyclopelia, Minsk,
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Red Book of the Republic of Belarus. Animals. Minsk,
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region. Zoological readings: materials of the International
scientific-practical conference in memory of prof.
I. K. Lopatina (Grodno, March 14–16, 2013). Grodno
State University named after Y. Kupala; ed. by O.
V. Yanchurevich [et al.]. J. Kupala Grodno State
Univ., Grodno, 325–328. (In Russian)
Shokalo, S. I. 2019. On the state of the speckled
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