Spermophilus major 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Spermophilus major Pallas, 1779
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Russet Ground Squirrel
Citellus major Pallas, 1779
Citellus major Pallas, 1779

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-09-01
Assessor(s): Cassola, F.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Tsytsulina, K., Formozov, N. & Sheftel, B.
A widespread and abundant species. Although population declines have been noted in some parts of the range, it is not believed to approach the threshold for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, it is assessed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Steppe between Volga and Irtysh rivers (Russia; N Kazakhstan). Formerly, steppe between Don and Volga rivers (Russia: Gromov et al. 1965). On the western bank of Volga River found in NW part of Volga Hills (Ermakov and Titov 2000). Reported from Xinjiang (Ma et al. 1987); but probably a misidentified S. brevicauda. Its range is increasing in the south and the west (N. Formozov pers. comm. 2006). Occurs from sea level to 600 m.
Countries occurrence:
Kazakhstan; Russian Federation
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Populations undergo periodical fluctuations and consequently population size varies from year to year. Periods of mass reproduction give place to population depressions, during which only single individuals could be found in colonies that had formerly been large. The main factors that determine mortality include the soil freezing through during the species' hibernation period, late arrival of spring, human disturbance (including direct killing), predators and epizootics. The species has high reproductive capacity and ecological plasticity. However, a recent study found that populations in most parts of the range were declining, and some small populations had gone extinct (Ermakov and Titov 2000). At the same time, the species has been extending its range in some areas (N. Formozov pers. comm. 2006).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Inhabits mixed grassy plains, and grain and feather-grass steppes. In the northern part of the range penetrates into forest-steppe and the southern part of forest zones. In the south it occurs in river meadows in semi-desert zones. The species is spreading as roads and development increase the number of channels containing water and long grasses. The species is able to cross the Volga due to the construction of dams in four different places. The dams contain ponds which keep ice over winter for longer, allowing the species to move. Another possible reason for observed range expansion is the release of individuals (along with marmots) by hunters. Lives in single burrows scattered over wide territories. In southern parts of the range where appropriate habitats are limited forms colonies. Adult males enter hibernation in mid-June; mass hibernation starts in August. Feeds on green parts and seeds of grasses and cereals.
Generation Length (years):2-3

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The most significant threats are ploughing and direct killing by humans.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No specific conservation measures for this species are known.

Citation: Cassola, F. 2017. Spermophilus major. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T20486A22263024. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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