general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) • ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2021 • Vol. 22 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfМyakushko, S. 2021. Shrinkage of body size in rodents as a strategy of populations under anthropogenic conditions (results of 50 years of study of rodent populations). Theriologia Ukrainica, 22: 133–143.



Shrinkage of body size in rodents as a strategy of populations under anthropogenic conditions (results of 50 years of study of rodent populations)


Stanislav Myakushko (orcid: 0000-0003-1423-5049)


Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Kyiv, Ukraine)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2021. Vol. 22: 133–143.




Ukrainian, with English summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


Based on results of 50 years of continuous observations of populations of the pine vole (Microtus subterraneus de Selys-Longchamps, 1836) and yellow-necked wood mouse (Sylvaemus flavicollis Melchior, 1834), the phenomenon of reducing body size of individuals was revealed, particularly a significant reduction in body dimensions and body mass. The research was conducted at the Kaniv Nature Reserve covering various stages of the local ecosystem's existence under anthropogenic impact. Four cycles of density dynamics of two populations are chosen for comparison of their characteristics. The first three cycles correspond to qualitatively different periods in the existence of the protected ecosystem and populations of the studied species, whereas the last cycle reflects the current situation. It has been established that the tendency to decrease body dimensions is also characteristic for other rodent species, its manifestations are observed for 35 years, and the scale gradually increases. By fatness indexes, individuals of the pine vole on average lose 23.3% and yellow-necked wood mice lose 16.7% of the former values. It was shown that the level of reduce in exterior parameters is always greater in females than in males, and in the group of breeding adults it can reach 32%. It has been found that the phenomenon also applies to juveniles, whose fatness decreases by an average of 21%. The phenomenon occurs against the background of violations of various aspects of population dynamics, which allows it to be associated with anthropogenic changes in the environment. It is suggested that shrinking can be realized by various mechanisms. First, as a result of mortality, the largest individuals and reproductive females with their greatest energy needs fall out of the population, and, second, the growth and weight gain of young animals is slower. As a result, the decrease in external parameters of individuals reduces their specific energy needs and allows them to better survive under adverse conditions. From these points of view, reducing body dimensions can be considered as a specific population strategy to maintain ecological balance.


reduced body size, population dynamics, forest-dwelling rodents, ecological balance.



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