What is it about?

In Mordovia, there is a relict local population of the greater mole-rat (Spalax microphthalmus). Similar isolated populations of the greater mole-rat have been preserved only in a few regions of the Volga Region. They are confined to refugia of steppe vegetation. In these regions, the greater mole-rat needs protection. However, people violate the animals' habitats and destroy them. This is also typical for Mordovia, where a stable small population has existed for a long time. The aim of the paper was to study changes in the impact of human activity on the population of the greater mole-rat at the northern border of the species’ range. The impact of human activity on one of the settlements in the local population was studied. This territory was a hotbed from which there was a settlement to adjacent suitable sites. Since 1974, this territory has been a complex natural monument “Levzhenskiy Landscape Reserve.” Twenty-five individuals (13% of the total population in the region) lived in the area of human impact. The settlement of animals in the direction of the city due to plowing the steppe meadow was revealed. It was noted that the greater mole-rat appeared near roads, houses, and gardens where they had not been recorded before. Individual mounds were found between the extreme houses of the village of Levzhenskiy and this plowed area. In addition, fresh mounds from one burrowing system were found in a narrow strip (3 meters) between the road and the plowed area. In both cases, we are talking about individual survivors. In comparison with cattle grazing, plowing of a steppe meadow is a significant negative impact on the greater mole-rat since it is the destruction, first of all, the food base. Earlier, greater mole-rats did not migrate massively from their plots because of cattle grazing.

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Why is it important?

This impact has not only changed the state of the population, but may be one of the reasons for the disappearance of the population in general.


We can suggest that in addition to natural factors in the fragmentation of the greater mole-rat's habitat, the influence of human activity is also important. In addition, in the future, there is a need to conduct genetic studies of the greater mole-rat in local populations. This will allow to compare changes in the genotype of animals after habitat fragmentation.

Alexey Andreychev

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This page is a summary of: The greater mole-rat (Spalax microphthalmus) and humans: facets of interaction in the Middle Volga Region, Theriologia Ukrainica, August 2020, Co. Ltd. Ukrinformnauka,
DOI: 10.15407/tu1912.
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