karamani

<2,000
adults


S.

c. gradojevici


ca. 15 colonies






K
ryštufek et
al. 2012


Haberl et al.


2012

Moldova


Data not available







Serbia

Continental

Data not available







Turkey


Data not available







Ukraine


Probably extinct






Bashta et
THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

19

Potish
2007
via
W
ojtaszyn et
al. 2012


* G: good, actual and based on extensive research and monitoring


M: moderate, older data but based on extensive research and monitoring or actual data, but based only on
expert opinion


B: bad, all the other possibilities

** (+
, = or
-
, if possible indicate increase or decrease percentage



1. 4
Threats


The
m
ajor part

of
critical threats to
Spermophilus citellus

is

linked to agriculture


the most important
factor shaping the
current
habitat
s

of

S. citellus
. The critical threats are connected either to lack of
grassland management


such as low (insufficient) intensity of grazing or mowing, or
a total
absence
of those


i.e. land abandonment
.

A
lso inappropriate practices such as
monoculture / abs
ence of crop
rotation, over
-
fertilisation (e.g. using of muck), us
e

of chemicals, but also
change in agriculture
practices including
agriculture intensification and
conversion of grasslands to arable land
or their
afforestation
are

mentioned among critical

or very important threats

across member states concerned
.


Second group of critical threats also

has an

impact on

habitat availability

for
S. citellus
.
Urbanisation,
residential and commercial development as well as traffic development (with subsequent pr
oblems
such
as the
barrier effect, mortality due to collision with vehicles, pollution etc.) are causing
fragmentation and degradation of habitat for
S. citellus
, reduc
ed

habitat connectivity,
reduced
dispersal, reduced genetic exchange and
reduced fecundi
ty
/
genetic
depression
. A
t the very
end
coincidence of
th
e
s
e

factors
lead
s

to extinction of local
S. citellus

populations.


Other critical and very important threats which usually
concern

only some of the range countries
include flooding/inappropriate wa
ter regime, fire, increased predation (also by domestic animals),
diseases and parasites, trapping, poisoning and poaching, but also
missing or wrongly directed
conservation measures
.
Special emphasis should be put on the
agri
-
environment schemes

(AES) for

grasslands
, which in some countries are
not
flexible enough
. F
or instance
if the payments in AES
require late mowing

of grasslands due to
focus

on some bird species
, this can harm some species
which need short grass throughout the vegetation season (end o
f May and June)


like European
G
round
S
quirrel.


Table 2:

Identified threats for EU member states

with present populations



AT

BG

CZ

EL

HU

PL

RO

SK

Agriculture

Cultivation

C

C







Modification of
cultivation practices



C


?


VI



A
gricultural
intensification

C

C




I

VI

C

C
rop change

VI

VI







G
rassland removal for arable
land

C

C



C


C

C

M
owing / cutting of
grassland

Insufficient

mowing

intensity

VI

VI

C



I


C

A
bandonment / lack of
mowing

VI

C

C


C

C


C

Grazing

I
n
sufficient
g
razing

intensity

I

VI



C



C

A
bandonment of pastoral
systems, lack of grazing

I

VI

C

?

C

C

I


L
ivestock farming and
animal breeding
(without grazing)



VI




I



Lack of animal breeding





VI




A
nnual and perennial
non
-
timber crops

Intensive
a
nnual crops for
food production
/
intensification

I

I







B
iofuel
-
production

C

C







U
se of biocides, hormones and chemicals

VI

VI




?

?

VI

Fertilisation

I

VI




?


VI

Restructuring agricultural land holding

(e.g. land
clearance)

I



?


I



S
ylviculture, forestry

F
orest planting on open ground

I

I



I

I

I


THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

21


AT

BG

CZ

EL

HU

PL

RO

SK

Mining, extraction of
materials and energy
production

Mining
,

quarrying
,
extraction of oil or gas





?


I


S
olar energy production


I







W
ind energy production

?

I







Transporta
tion and
service corridors

Motorways, r
oads, railroads
,
solidified
car parks etc.
acting as migration barriers

I

VI


?

I

I

VI

I

D
eath or injury by collision

VI



?





Urbanisation,
residential and
commercial
developme
nt

C
ontinuous
urbanization and/or
d
ispersed habitation


C

?

I

?

I

VI

VI


Industrial or commercial areas

VI






VI


Discharges

I






VI


Hunting and
collection of wild
animals

T
rapping, poisoning, poaching
and
other forms of taking
animals




?

VI


VI

VI

Sports and leisure
activities

and
structures

Off
-
road
motorized driving

I




?

?

VI

?

G
olf course

I

I






?

Other h
uman
intrusions and
disturbances

Trampling, overuse







VI


Conservation

M
issing or wrongly directed conservation measures

I





C


C

Pollution

Pollution to groun
dwater (point sources and diffuse
sources)





?


VI


Soil pollution and solid waste (excluding discharges)

?

I



?


VI


Natural System
modifications

F
ire and fire
suppression

B
urning down


I




?



L
ack of fires

I







?

C
hanges in hydraulic
cond
itions

Flooding


I





VI

C

Raising the groundwater table





?

?


VI

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

22


AT

BG

CZ

EL

HU

PL

RO

SK

A
nthropogenic reduction of habitat connectivity
,
migration and dispersal

I


C

?

I

C

C

C

R
eduction in genetic exchange

I





?


VI

Natural biotic and
abiotic processes

S
uccession

of vegetation


I



VI

I


VI

C
ompetition
with other
a
nimal species





?




P
arasitism

?


?

?


?



I
ntroduction of disease (microbial pathogens)

?


?


?

?


I

P
redation



C



I


I

A
ntagonism with domestic animals

(cats, dogs)

I


VI





?

R
educed
fecundity/ genetic depression

?


?


?

?


?

Climate change

T
emperature changes (e.g. rise of temperature &
extremes)

?

I



?

?



D
roughts and less precipitations


I



?




R
ising precipitations

(rapid torrential rains), rapid snow
melting

I

I

I


?

?

?

I



Notes:

C


Critical; VI


Very Important; I


Important;
?


U
nknown
;

Empty cell
-

not applicable



Probable effects of climate change


Possible factor affecting the species on a global scale may be the climate chang
e. However its effects
on
the
species are barely known and only assumptions can be derived from the known effects of
climate change on precipitation, temperature, vegetation etc
.

(e
.
g.
S
TRIJKSTRA

et al
.

2006)
.
A
significant scientifically tested knowledge
is missing in this field.


High temperature and dry clime can be well tolerated by
S. citellus
, and daily extremes avoided by
retreat into the burrow (
V
ÁCZI

2005,
V
ÁCZI

et al. 2006)
.
Extreme environmental events as
excess

amount of rain in
a
short time pe
riod can kill high number of
specimen

or even destroy whole
populations.
Also
high amount of winter precipitation

in combination with
mild temperature

can be
dangerous because
of
the raising ground water level
, which

can flood hibernation chambers.



Clima
te change may
also impact the species
'

biology. Raised temperature may
shift hibernation and
activity periods earlier in the year with important impact on diet and re
s
ource availability and
on
overall
recruitment and
survival.

S
horten
ing of the
hibernation

period
may
reduc
e

gamete maturation with
significant impact on reproduction rates and fertility.


S
TRIJKSTRA

et al. (2006) saw a negative effect of global warming on the hibernation energetics
of
S.
citellus
.
N
ÉMETH

et

al. (2009) found that ambient temper
ature had an independent influence on torpor
-
bout leng
th

and euthermic phases in hibernating
specimen of
S. citellus

and that the loss in body
mass was higher in higher ambient temperatures. Thus higher winter temperature might have a
negative affect on hi
bernating
S. citellus
.


Management conflicts with other conservation targets

As
Spermophilus citellus

is a steppe species preferring open and short
-
stalked grasslands
over most
of
the
vegetation period
a management conflict

may arise with some natural element
s

requiring other
type
s

of management
,

which
prefer
different management regime, such as different period or intensity
of grazing or mowing
.

This may include certain plant species such as orchids, invertebrate species,
e
.g.
Orthoptera
,
Lepidoptera
:
Polyommatus damon
,
Chazara briseis
, but also vertebrates such as
Emberiza hortulana
,
Lanius collurio

or other species preferring semi
-
open grassland habitats with
scattered shrubs and trees. In such cases management conflict ma
y also arise from the different
required management (conservation goal) for some Annex I habitat types such as forest steppes, e.g.
91N0 * Pannonic inland sand dune thicket (
Junipero
-
Populetum albae
)
,
91I0 * Euro
-
Siberian steppic
woods with
Quercus

spp.

or

scrub habitats such as
4070 * Bushes with
Pinus mugo

and
Rhododendron hirsutum

(
Mugo
-
Rhododendretum hirsuti
)

etc.

Such management conflicts should be
solved by setting conservation priorities for the site’s management plan, but considering the overall
sta
tus of the species on the biogeographical level in the respective country. Management options such
as mosaic mowing, fencing of grazing fields
(rotation grazing)
etc. may become useful.

In situation
s

where a local population of
S. citellus

is near to e
xtin
ction

a

conflict with predators

including rare raptors such as eagles or falcons or
with some

protected

small carnivor
e
s such as
Steppe Polecat or Marbled Polecat may also become a serious threat.

The predator
-
prey re
lation
should be however considered as
important element of the natural ecosystems

and no intervention to
this relation should be preferred in management decision, especially in case of autochtonous rare
predators as mentioned above.

In some countries (e.g. Poland)
agri
-
environment schemes (AES
)

are
focused only on some bird
species. AES
p
ayments
for land owners and users
depend

there
on the late mowing

(no earlier than in
July)
.

As most of extensively used grasslands a
re

included
in
AES, it is
harmful for
S. citellus
,

which
need
s

short grass in

the end of May


J
un
e
.

Adaptation of moving regime in AES in case of
S. citellus

localities should be possible.


THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

24

2.

Species conservation and legal status across its geographic range


2.1 International status


EU Habitats Directive

The species is listed
i
n
Annexes II and IV


Bern Convention

The species is listed
i
n A
ppendi
x

II

(strictly protected fauna species)


CITES

Not included.


IUCN Red List

The species is endemic to Eu
rope and assessed as
Vulnerable A2bc

with decreasing population
(
C
OROIU

et al. 2008)
.



EU conservation status (from Article 17 reporting) on biogeographical level and Member
States.


The conservation status
of
S.

citellus

has been

reported

in 2007 reporti
ng only
by six

MS and
in four

biogeographical

regions



Alpine, Continental, Mediterranean and Pannonic
.
The reporting does not
contain data from Bulgaria and Romania, neither
from

Germany.

























THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

25


MS

Region

Conservation status assessme
nt

Range

Population

Habitat

Future
prospects

Overall

AT

ALP






SK

ALP






AT

CON






CZ

CON






PL

CON






EL

MED






CZ

PAN






HU

PAN






SK

PAN










The
species’ conservation status on the
biogeographical
level
is
assessed as
‘unfavourabl
e
-
bad’ for
the Alpine and
Continental
biogeographical regions

and ‘
u
nfavourable
-
inadequate’ for the
Mediterranean and Pannonic

region
s
.


Assessment of relatively good conservation status of
S. citellus

in Poland is due to the specifics of the
Art. 17 repo
rting and not the actu
al status of the species in the

country. At the time of reporting (2007)
the only (the first) reestablished
population
of this species was
included in
the Natura 2000 network
and in good condition. The number of animals
had
grown last

years (from zero)

in this country.
However the actual status of the population of this species in Poland is still very bad (worse than in
other reporting countries) and the species is
still
critically endangered.


NATURA 2000 network


S
.

citellus

is liste
d among
Habitats Directive
Annex II species.
The most valuable sites
for the species
should be covered by Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) according to article 4 of the Directive.

A
ccording to Natura 2000 database 2011 version
S. citellus

is listed as
a target species in a
ltogether
4
29

SCIs
and in addition for 1 SCI it is listed among other important species present

(see
also
table
and
the
map in Annex 2).


When considering the species conservation status in the EU it is worth mentioning what is the act
ual
coverage
of
the
national population
s

in

Natura 2000 network

(though this data is not available for all
EU range countries)
:


AT:
approximately 45% of the national population
is
covered by Natura 2000 network (
E
NZINGER

et al.
2006,
H
ERZIG
-
S
TRASCHIL

2007
,
M
IKOCKI
2012 in litt.)
.


CZ: as of 2011


cca 24 % of localities and 61 % individuals covered by Natura 2000 (8 localities out
of 33 with a sum of estimates of 2

365 out of total estimate of 3 879 indiv. for the entire country)


MS


Region


Conservation status assessment

Population
size


unit


Population
tr
end


Range

Population

Habitat

Future
prospects

Overall

EU 25

ALP






15
9

grids

-

EU 25

CON






1
3
1 grids

-

EU 25

MED







-

EU 25

PAN






688

grids

-

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

26

PL: Though 100% of nation
al population is included in Natura 2000 network it is “Kamień Śląski”


the
first and so far the most important locality of the species, which is designated especially for this
species (75
-
85% of national population). The two other localities have also Na
tura 2000 site status,
but
S. citellus

is not yet included among the target species for these sites.


SK: based on data co
mpiled

in 2010 the actual coverage of the
species localities

by SCIs had been
calculated
at

17% for Alpine and 18% for Pannonian regio
n
3
. The species remains assessed as
Insu
f
ficient Moderate for both regions after Biogeographic seminar organized in 2012.


In contrast, a model approach revealed that e
xisting Natura 2000 areas are mainly located outside
potential
S.

citellus

habitat
, sinc
e most
of the protected

areas
were located

in woodland
.
A

Maxent
species distribution modeling showed

that on average, only
0.65%

of
suitable
ground
-
squirrel
habitat

overlap with

Natura 2000 areas.

E.g. i
n Austria there is almost no overlap

of potential
S.

citellus

habitat with
Natura 2000

(
H
EITHER

&
B
LOMENKAMP

2012
-

see this source also for other countries of
the distribution range), which effectively applies to Vienna, where only a minor part of the northern
population dwells in Natura 2000 area (Bisambe
rg) (
H
OFFMANN

in litt.).



2.2 National status


The species is protected according to national law in
every

EU country of its current range. It is also
enlisted in the national red lists of threatened species

of the EU rang
e countries
except for Hungary
4
.


Table 3.



National law

National Red List

Austria


NÖ Artenschutzverordnung, LGBl. 5500/2,
Wiener Naturschutzgesetz LGBl. 45/1998
amend. LGBl. 29/2012; Bgld.
Naturschutzgesetz LGBl. 36/2001, amend.
LGBl. 7/2010, Bgld.

Artenschutzverordnung
LGBl 36/2001 amend. LGBl 24/2008

EN (
S
PITZENBERGER

2005)

Bulgaria

Bulgarian Biodiversity Act (State gazzete
,

бр.77, 2002)


Appendix II

VU
A1c
(
S
TEFANOV



in press)

Czech Republic

critically endangered species (Decree N
r
.
395/1992
to Act N
r
. 114/1992)

CR (
A
NDĚRA ET
Č
ERVENÝ
2003
)

Greece

protected species according to national law
(
citation
)

VU (
citation
)

Hungary

strictly protected species
according to national
law (
Act Nr. 13/2001
)

-


Poland

Strictly protected according to the Min
ister of
Environment regulation from
12 October 2011
on animal species protection

EX in Poland (
P
ROFUS

2001)


requires updat
e

Romania

strictly protected species (Act Nr. 49/2011
)

VU (
citation
)

Slovakia

protected species (of European importance)
according to
Annexes 4b and 6b of
the
R
egulation N
r
. 24/2003

to the Act Nr.
543/2002

EN (
Ž
IAK

et
U
RBAN

2001)





3

Daphne (2012),
http://n2k.daphne.sk/zoo.php?n=50

4

update of the national red list is considere
d necessary (Váczi in verb.)

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

27

2.3 Existing conservation

actions and identified priorities


Protected areas

Except protection within Natura 2000 network some localities of
S. citellus

are located within nationally
prot
ected areas and thus are subject to special protection


such as
in Bulgaria in N
ational parks Rila
and Central Balkan

and Nature parks
Vitosha, Strandzha, Sinite kamani, Rusenski lom
,

etc.

Part of
recent localities
of
S. citellus

however
are

found outside

protected areas
, similarly as in
the Czech
Republic
, Greece, Hungary or Slovakia
.

This is no doubt caused by the fact that these localities
often
represent man
-
made habitats,
such as airports, gardens, playgrounds, etc.

In Hungary measures for
protection
of
S. citellus

are included among conservation priorities for a number of protected areas and
Natura 2000 sites.


Action plans
at

national level

A
national action plan for
S. citellus

e
xists

in Czech Republic

and Poland
.


Action Plan for the European Groun
d Squirrel
(
Spermophilus citellus
)
in the Czech Republic
(
M
ATĚJŮ

et
a
l. 2010)

was developed in 2006 and approved by the Ministry of Environment in 2008.
Conservation goals of this Action Plan in
clude
: 1. Ensure the existence of the European ground
squirrel in the highest possible number of existing localities, wh
ile focusing on Sites of Community
Importance (SCIs) and more numerous populations with a positive development perspective and with
the possibility of enlarging the area of the colony; 2. Create a total of 5 metapopulation systems of
European ground squirr
el occurrence in the Czech Republic, with a total number of at least 2,500
individuals in each of the 5 metapopulations for at least 10 years). The Action Plan also contains
specific
conservation measures

grouped along major topics
such
as

habitat manageme
nt, species
management, monitoring, research, education and other measures.
A major review of th
e
a
ction plan
is
after
10 years

therefore
the evaluation of the plan’s

effectiveness
is not available yet
.


In Poland the “National management plan for the spec
ies


European ground squirrel (
Spermophilus
citellus
)” (
K
EPEL

&
K
ALA

2007) was developed in 2006
-
2007 with the participation of all interested
stakeholders and published by the Polish Ministry of Environment. However it is not legally binding in
any way.
Main goal of the plan is the implementation of the
S. citellus

reintroduction program in
Poland. As a minimum, the program assumes re
establishment
of 6 metapopulations of this species in
the four regions (voivodeships) of Poland, within the historical rang
e of the species. It also anticipates
educational activities in the local communities and the use of the
S. citellus

as an umbrella species for
conservation of
rare and protected grass
land

habitats and associated species.


In Austria an action plan for
S.
citellus

exists for the province of Lower Austria (
G
ROSS

et al. 2006). It is
funded by Provincial and Austrian Government (Ministry of Agriculture and Environment) and the
European Union. It consists of management of habitats, mediation of conflicts, monit
oring by
volunteers and raising of public awareness. A similar project of the Burgenland league for Nature
Conservation (Naturschutzbund Burgenland) also funded by Provincial and Austrian Government
(Ministry of Agriculture and Environment) and the Europea
n Union is mainly focused on a scientific
monitoring of all
S. citellus

colonies
within the province, but includes also management of habitats,
mediation of conflicts and raising of public awareness. An action plan for localities in

Vienna is in
preparatio
n
.


No specific action plan
at

national level

exists yet for
Bulgaria,
Hungary
,

Greece
and

Romania. In

Slovakia,
such action plan is in preparation.


Translocation and r
e
patria
tion

action
s

R
epatriations
(Reintroductions) and translocations
seem to be one
of the most common conservation
activities implemented for
S. citellus

during

the

last 20 years. Some repatriations were
done

in order to
save populations
at

localities w
h
ere some development/construction was planned to take place or
there was other confli
ct with planned or ongoing use of the area (such as
at

airports


risk of collisions
with raptor birds). In Slovakia
and in Hungary as a part of a LIFE project on conservation of Saker
Falcon
(Falco cherrug)

specific
guidelines
for species
reintroduction
s
were prepared
(
H
APL

et al. 2006)

as a result of experience from reintroduction actions
.


THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

28

M
ATĚJŮ

et al.
(
2010
)

summarized and evaluated a number of reintroduction and repatriation
(rescue
transfer)
projects implemented in
the
Czech Republic and Slovakia in

the

last 20 years.
In the 1990s,
mapping of the occurrence of European
S. citellus

took place in Slovakia

(
B
ALÁŽ

et al. 2008)
. Based
on the data obtained, several regions were chosen which should become part of a network of species’
gene pool localities in

Slovakia used for future reintroductions. In 1992



1993

reintroduction of 200
specimen
s

to
3

historical
localities in Košická Basin in Eastern Slovakia

took place. The project
delivered important experience with reintroduction methods, released animals p
opulated the localities
and their numbers increased in the following years (except
for

one locality which was destroyed). In
2000


2004 re
lease

of
S. citellus

to several localities in National Park Muránska Planina took place
and
in
2005


2006
similar
ac
tivity

took place in the west
ern part
of Slovakia


locality
Kuchyňa. The
released animals originat
ed from airports
of
Košice
and

Bratislava
,

and included relatively high
number of released individuals


444 in case of Muránska Planina NP and 350 in case o
f Kuchyňa
locality. In 2007 during a survey made at Kuchyňa locality
however
only 30 individuals were
found out
of which one half were juveniles

(
A
MBROS

&
H
APL

2008)
.


Several reintroduction projects were implemented in
the
Czech Republic, most of them
,

h
owever
,

not
successful. This was due to several reasons, mainly because of low number of released individuals,
but also due to low or not existent support for the newly established populations in the years
subsequent to release (by releasing more individua
ls), isolation of new populations from the existing
ones, parasites and increased predation of captive
-
bred animals. However
,

these projects also
delivered important experience
for the future reintroduction programmes
,
such as the positive
experience with
using a release cage for adapting the released animal to new environment on a
locality of release.


Since

2005
a
successful project of reintroduction of
S. citellus

after their extinction in 1970ies
is taking
place
in Poland.
To the locality n
ear
Kamień Śl
ąski (near the town Opole)
altogether
250 individuals
were released

in the course of
2005 to 2007
.
Animals
originated from Hungary and Slovakia from
where they
were

transported to ZOO in Pozna
ń

for captive breeding.
At

the locality of release the
animals w
ere put into
acclimatization cages, from which they dug themselves out

(soft release, cf.
T
RUETT

et al. 2001)
.

Based on

an estimate from 20
12
,
about 770

individuals are found
at

this locality.

In 2008
-
2012
S. citellus

reintroduction in two other localities

was started (in Głębowice and Jakubowo
Lubińskie, both in the Lower Silesia region). In both
of
these localities the estimated number of
animals starting the hibernation in 2012 is still much lower than in Kamień Śląski (probably doesn’t
exceed 100 indivi
duals on any of these sites).


In Hungary,
many reintroduction and translocation actions were implemented in last decades as well
(
V
ÁCZI

in litt). Around 2002
approximately 700 individuals of
S. citellus

were transferred to a new
locality due to the abolis
hment of a field

airport. The
anima
ls were released individually into pre
-
drilled

holes, the openings of which were then closed with a bottle.

Th
i
s forced the released individuals to
stay

under the ground
and
dig a new entrance,
allowed them to
calm down a
nd
thus prevented them
to leave quickly the new locality
.
In t
he
following year
more than 300 individuals were observed and
reproduction was successful as well (
V
ÁCZI

in verb.
;
G
EDEON

et al. 2011
).



In
Bulgaria reintroduction projects
for
S. citellus

exis
t in N
ature parks
Vitosha, Sinite kamani, Bulgarka
and Vrachanski Balkan

(
K
OSHEV

in litt
.
)
.



In Austria there are no
re
introduction projects existing or planned at present and reintroductions are
regarded only as an exceptional measure in Lower Austria.


Considering that the vast majority of reintroduction events

ha
ve

been unsuccessful or
their

results
are
uncertain or
unknown, EU legislation (
Art.

12

of the Habitats D
irective

92/42/E
C
)

should be thoroughly
applied to verify w
h
ether future transl
o
c
a
tions a
re
de facto

expedient or necessary. To this, a strict
set
of rules

is required
to be developed and agreed among experts
before executing any further
translocation, repatriation or reintroduction. This set of rules should be based on
a critical review of th
e
experience and
unconditionally

include monitoring of the released animals (at least until the next
reproductive season after release).



THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

29

Species
inventory and
monitoring

In many countries, such as
Austria,

Czech Republic
, Hungary

or Slovakia a country
-
w
ide inventory of
S. citellus

took place in the past 20
-
30 years.
However
,

in other countries a coordinated inventory is
still missing and only results of regional
-
based surveys are available (Bulgaria, Greece). Results of
such surveys however may get quick
ly outdated as numerous examples show. When the agricultural
activities


grazing or mowing


ceases, especially small and isolated populations become vulnerable
to extinction. As the species is in decrease in its entire range
except for Hungary,

monitorin
g of
remaining
S. citellus

localities is
necessary.



Programmes for monitoring of
S. citellus

exist
for example
for most of Austria,
in Czech Republic
,

Hungary

and Poland
.


In Austria the

monitoring
of
S. citellus

is
carried out
in Lower Austria and Bur
genland, but
it
is not yet
implemented in Vienna. The Lower Austrian League
for

Nature Conservation (Naturschutzbund NÖ)
created the “Ground Squirrel Network” in 2009. A team of volunteers, like friends of nature, farmers,
winegrowers, huntsmen and biologi
sts,
provide surveillance
o
f

“their”
S. citellus

colonies.
Animals

and
their burrow entrances are counted


following one and the same method


each year in April. The
Lower Austrian League
for
Nature Conservation (Naturschutzbund N
Ö
) makes an analysis and

de
rive
s conservat
ion measures from the results.
In Burgenland all colonies
of
S. citellus

are being
monitor
ed

by scientists
as part of a project run by the Burgenland League
for
Nature Conservation
(Naturschutzbund Burgenland).


In
the
Czech Republic
deta
iled
monitoring

of
S. citellus

has been

going on since 2000 and since 200
6

it
is being implemented as part of the national species action plan
.

B
esides surveillance of known
localities it also revealed new localities of the species.


In Hungary,
S. citell
us

is being monitored as part of the Hungarian Biodiversity Monitoring System
since 2000
5

at

63
permanent sample
localities representing both natural sites and grassy airports

visited at least once a year in mid April.

A method of active burrow holes count
ing on a 1000 m long
and 1m wide belt transect is being used. Except the number of active burrow holes a set of additional
information is being collected

as well
.


In Poland the exact monitoring of all existing
S. citellus

sites is
part
of the
approved nat
ional
reintroduction program.

C
ensus
of the population is
done in April and August.


In Bulgaria
S. citellus

is included in the
National System for Monitoring
of
Biological Diversity
(
S
TEFANOV



in press).

In Slovakia, monitoring programme for
S. citellus

is in preparation (
A
MBROS

pers. com.).


Conservation of habitats

and implications of the Common
A
griculture
P
olicy

Protection of the
S. citellus

habitats mainly involves preservation/support or establishment of grazing
or mowing on
S. citellus

sites. Acco
rding to current knowledge the most favourable seems to

be

grazing of

mixed herds of sheep and goats though

grazing of cattle is also possible and quite
common. O
ccasional o
vergrazing by cattle
,

however
,

causes trampling and degradation of soil and
it
can
destr
oy

burrow systems of
S. citellus

and therefore is not welcome. Number of grazing animals
must therefore
be
supervised.

In some localities, such as on Kamień Śląski in Poland grazing of
horses is practiced.


In Bulgaria local activities concerning conservation of habitats (mowing, support or establishment of
grazing, creating suitable habitats etc.) are implemented in Natu
re parks Vitosha, Bulgarka and
Vrachanski Balkan and in the National park Centralen Balkan.


In some countries, such as Bulgaria, Hungary or Slovakia the local populations of
S. citellus

and their
habitats were subject to actions of conservation projects t
argeting other species, such as birds of prey


Imperial Eagle or Saker Falcon.





5

http://www.termeszetvedelem.hu/_user/downloads/biomon_eng/EGS.pdf

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

30

Protection of
S. citellus

habitats in
Lower Austrian
is being ensured through

the Austrian agri
-
environment
programme
(
Ö
PUL)

of the
Rural Development Policy 2007



20
13. Farme
rs
taking part
on the scheme
have to preserve and cultivate fallow

land

like meadows till 2013
, which includes
cut
ting

them appropri
a
t
e
ly (2x or 4x/year)
, to get funded.

Till
today at least 150 farmers take part in the
programme conserving and managing abo
ut 200

ha
of
non cultivated land for
S. citellus

in Lower
Austria.
Therefore from
S. citellus

conservation
point of view, it makes a difference, if European
Agricultural
Policy obliges farmers to keep 10% set
-
asides in their farming area
(most of them mown

regularly 2
-
3 times/year)
or if it
is

only 2%
of
set
-
asides, which are cu
t once in August. It is estimated,
that in the period of 2007


201
3 in Lower Austria
S. citellus

have lost about 80% of actual or potential
fallow

land habitat at once, because of t
he change in European
Agricult
ural Policy

(
Z
ULKA

in prep.)
.


Vineyards turned out to be the most important habitat
for
S. citellus

in Lower Austria at present. One
third of the colonies are situated
in vineyards
. The suitability of vineyards for
S. citellu
s

large
ly
depends on the presence of short grassland
stripes
between the grapevine rows. This permanent
green space
protects
the ground from soil erosion. Since this type of soil conservation has been
promoted by the Lower Austrian Chamber of Agriculture s
everal years ago, nowadays it's often to be
found. In years with low precipitation the portion of vineyards with short grassland between the grape

w
ine rows decline
s
, which may be unfavourable for the
S. citellus

colonisation. As there is no
possibility fo
r winegrowers to get ÖPUL
-
funds to protect habitats
of
S. citellus

in their vineyards, the
Lower Austrian League of Nature Conservation (Naturschutzbund NÖ
)
launch
ed

a marketing
campaign for them. Wine growers, who have "ground squirrel vineyards" and who
cultivate their
vineyards while
keeping short

grassland
striped
between the grapevine rows, will be allowed to use a
badge to mark these
souslik
-
friendly

vineyards
, which

signalizes, that the winegrower protects
habitat

for
S. citellus

in his vineyards. Mo
reover the winemaker is allowed to label his respective wine bottles
with
Naturschutzbund N
Ö

label, if he accepts
additional sponsor
ship

conditions.


Similarly i
n the province of Burgenland
, the
appropriate measures on fallow

land

and
vineyards are

finance
d through “
Ö
PUL” and directly from funds of the conservation department of the provincial
government.

Moreover, for establishing large scale
S. citellus

habitats, decisions of EU Common Agricultural Policy
(e.g. 2014


2020) as a wh
ole are very important.


2.4
Gaps in

knowledge


The current state of knowledge is
considered
sufficient
to
start
with
acti
on
s aimed at
conservation of
the species.

Despite the increased scientific attention some gaps remain in specific topic
s

conne
cted
to
S. citellus

biology, ecology etc. The most important gaps in knowledge
are listed below. Some are
specifically relevant for only some of the range countries (indicated by country code).

If not indicated
otherwise the identified gap is relevant for
all range countries:


Mapping and monitoring:

-

country
-
wide
species
i
nventory

(update)



s
pecies
distribution

and
size/
state of the
populations



BG
,
EL

-

launch
ing

of regular monitoring

programme in
EL
, R
O
, S
K

-

update
of the knowledge on species range
, distri
bution and population status in non
-
EU range
countries

-

mapping of the habitats potentially suitable for
S. citellus

(for
sake of
reintroduction or
translocati
o
n)


P
L
, S
K


Biology of
S. citellus

-

parasitism

-

EL

-

feeding habits
-

EL


Ecology of
S
.

citellus
:

-

minimal viable population sizes and
minimum size of
habitat

-

r
eproductive and mortality rates
, demography of the populations



population models

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

31

-

ecology of (meta)populations


dispersal

potential of the species and
movements between
habitat patches
, habitat

connectivity

-

adaptation, orientation in the new environment (for emergency tran
sfers)

-

effects of climate change on
species
biology
,

behavio
u
r, etc.

-

intra
-

and inter
-
specific effects


Habitat
structure and
management:

-

effects of climate change on habitat (
availability) for
S. citellus

(changes in range and density)

as well as effects on the species itself (biology, ethology, etc.)

-

habitat preference


B
G

-

impact of
threats

/
human activities
, e.g.
different grazing
/mowing
regimes
, effects of
mulching, using
of biocides in vineyards, etc.

-

response to
conservation
-
driven management

-

best practice parameters of translocation, reintroduction actions



PL



3.

Framework

for action


3.1
Overall
Goal


The ove
rall goal of this EU species Action Plan is
:


To i
mprove conservation status
of
Spermophilus citellus

to a favourable level within the
European Union

The
European Ground Squirrel
Spermophilus citellus

is endemic to Europe. It is undoubtedly an
important n
atural element of the steppic grassland ecosystem

in Europe. Thus the EU certainly has a
special responsibility for the conservation of this highly endangered species.
Therefore steps for the
survival of
S. citellus

need to

be taken

immediately. It has alr
eady disappeared from many localities of
its former European distribution


especially at the western edge of its range. Most of the remaining
colonies throughout the European Union went down in numbers so if actions are not taken
immediately, the species
will continue declining, maybe to a degree from which it cannot recover
anymore. The longer we wait, the harder it will get to achieve the survival of the species.


3.2 Objectives


Objective 1:
Stop further decline of
S.
citellus

populations by ensuring of necessary habitat
management at existing localities (colonies)
.


Management of
S. citellus

habitat can be based on the present knowledge of habitat requirements.
Habitat conservation measures of already existing national

and regional action plans for
S. citellus

could be evaluated for fine
-
tuning of the EU Action Plan in subsequent years.


Habitat conservation measures can only be implemented by
reflect
ing
S. citellus

needs in agri
-
environmental programmes as
by convinci
ng
farmers



the

most important stakeholders f
or

nature
conservation



to

take part
in
proper manage
ment of
S. citellus

localities (mowing, grazing).
Through

these programmes farmers
may
get funded and
so as
get rewarded for nature conservation activities.

The priority is to develop and support agricultural systems that maintain habitats with a certain amount
of short grasslands. Actions are needed at EU level to support appropriate systems of High Nature
Value farming. Flexible agri
-
envir
o
nment schemes are

necessary.

Such measures have to go on
also
when the present
programming period ends (
i.e. after

2013). Where agri
-
environmental measures for
S. citellus
already

exist
, these should be renewed starting
from

2014 and farmers sho
uld be
encouraged to take pa
rt.


Objective 2:
Restore metapopulations of
S. citellus

in parts
of the
range where
its
distribution
is fragmented
.

Individual populations have to be stabilized by restoring source populations within metapopulations
and providing adequate habitat size and

quality at a landscape scale. This includes directly adjacent
areas as well as habitat patches that may be reached by the ground squirrel. Within the next
CAP
THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

32

programm
ing period

(2014
-
2020), the suitable habitat should increase considerably in all defined

localities (e.g. two source populations in each metapopulation unit).


Individuals from different populations should be able to move between po
p
u
l
ations. Populations
should be able to grow and to spread. Habitats and colonies should be prevented from frag
mentation
and isolation. Dispersal routes
need to

be detected, step
ping

stone habitats between colonie
s

of
S.
citellus

should be preserved or restored.
Changes in land use
should be
avoided and if necessary
mitigated (e.g. by
means of spatial planning
).


O
bjective 3:
Ensure recovery of
S. citellus

populations in areas where it became extinct
.

If habitat connectivity is irreversibly interrupted or next vital metapopulation is too far away for
successful recolonisation, reintroduction of
S. citellus

could be
considered. This reintroduction should
only take place in regions within the natural range of the species, where
it

has become extinct in
recent years. Habitat quality and size as well as source populations should be considered carefully in
advance: only i
f the
current quality and the
size of habitat is sufficient (for rein
t
roduction) and its proper
management is secured
from a long
-
t
erm perspective

and the source population is not nega
tively
affected, reintroduction

could take place.

T
he reintroduction act
ions
should reflect situation and
priorities on a level of the species range and therefore cooperate of all
range countries
is necessary.



Objective 4:
Fill in the identified gaps in knowledge
.

Good quality data are needed on the actual range of the speci
es, on the size of colonies, populations
and on the size and quality of habitats, which are used. As the size of populations changes over years
and
the species

m
ay

disperse to as well as disappear from certain localities, data has to be updated

regularly (
e.g. every
3

years
)
.
In countries or
regions with outdated or no data
basic surveys

should
start immediately

and has to be updated at least once in 6 years period (as required by Art. 17
reporting)
.

This should be a baseline for continuous monitoring of th
e species status to be established
over large parts of its range. In order to get comparable results, common standards for monitoring
need to be developed and agreed among countries. An advisory/working group for
Spermophilus
citellus

based on the informal

European Ground Squirrel Meeting
p
latform may serve as a scientific
panel for developing and discussing such standards as well as standards/programme for
reintroductions etc.


Good quality data are needed on
certain aspects of
the
species


ecology
and i
ts environment e.g.
to
improve the management on existing localities

(e.g. response of the species to different management
options, response to translocations, effects of climate change, etc.)
. These data
are

also crucial for the
restoration of the sites f
rom which the species has disappeared. Research must include management
experiments to learn more about real
-
time

reactions of the species. Results have to be implemented in
the management of the localities immediately.


Objective
5
:
Increase public awaren
ess and involve key stakeholders in
S. citellus

conservation
.

Stakeholders


national, regional and
local authorities,
land
owners
,

farmers

and other land users
o
f

S.
citellus

localities


are

key players in the species conservation
.

They

need to be provid
ed with all
relevant information concerning the species ecology and the required management
of
its habitat.
Training workshops
, informative seminars,
factsheets
, etc. may be relevant means for disseminating
information
. Information) shall go on or shall s
be started.


It is also very important to
provide
inform
ation to general
public and to improve the public relation
towards

the species
using

different kinds of media, e.g. local and provincial press. Folders, reports and
information desks at certain local
events help to raise public awarenes
s

on the species, its needs and
on nature conservation
in general
.
Involving volunteers into conservation work (e.g. into monitoring of
S. citellus

colonies) helps to build positive relation and local ownership for the s
pecies.


To support
populations of
S. citellus

living in vineyards and orchards a special information campaign
for vineyard and orchard operators may be considered. The
public relation
activities may involve local
branding
.




3.3 Actions



No.

Action

Indicator

MS

Priority
6

Time
scale
7

Responsible
organisations

1. Habitat management and land
-
use

1.

Ensure proper management (regular mow
ing,
extensive grazing, removal of

bushes on
overgrown pastures) on all sites with regula
r
S. citellus

occur
r
ence
.

Number of appropriately
managed sites with regular
occurrence of
S. citellus

versus
total number of sites

all MS

essential

permanent

Conservation
agencies, site
managers, land
owners and
users

2.

Where appropriate enlarge existi
ng localities
of
S. citellus

by restor
ing

habitats on border
and adjacent areas
.

Area of restored habitats for
S.
citellus

all MS

essential

medium
-
long

Conservation
agencies, site
managers, land
owners and
users

3.

Enhance connectivity between
S. citellus

populations by creating line corridors and
stepping stones with appropriate habitat and
its management, especially in areas with
fragmented populations
.

Number and area of new
corridors and stepping stone
habitats

all MS

high

permanent

Conservation
agenc
ies, site
managers, land
owners and
users

4.

Restore metapopulation structure of
S.
citellus

populations by creating and
maintain
in
g new suitable habitat patches in
the vicinity of source populations in areas
with highly fragmented distribution
.

Number an
d area of new habitats,
estimated metapopulations
benefiting from new habitats

all MS

essential

medium
-
long

Conservation
agencies, site
managers, land
owners and
users

5.

Support suitable management in vineyards,
extensive orchards and set
-
aside patches t
o
become suitable habitat for
S. citellus

Area of vineyards and orchards
with management adapted
according to needs of
S. citellus

all MS

high

permanent

Conservation
agencies, site
managers, land
owners and
users

6.

Halt the fragmentation of
S. citellus

p
opulations by avoiding of habitat
conversion
.

Number of
S. citellus

populations
influenced by habitat conversion

reported in 2013 and 2019

BG, EL
,

HU, RO,
SK

essential

permanent

National/regional
authorities,
conservation
agencies




6

Priority: Essential, High, Medium, Low.

7

Time scale: Immediate: action sho
uld be completed in 1 year; Short: action completed in 3 years; Medium: completed in 5 years; Long: completed in 10 years; On
going: currently being
implemented and should continue, Permanent: need to be repeated, e.g. monitoring.

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

34

No.

Action

Indicator

MS

Priority
6

Time
scale
7

Responsible
organisations

7.

Promote reduction of
fertilisation (including
manure) and application of chemicals in
areas with
S. citellus

occurrence.

Number of
S. citellus

populations
influenced by
fertilisation and
chemicals reported in 2013 and
2019

all MS

medium

permanent

National/regional
conservation

and
agricultural
authorities,
conservation
agencies

8.

S
upport management of overabundant
allochtonous predators (stray dogs, cats etc.)
and prevent human hunting for
S. citellus

where appropriate
.

Management actions reported

all MS

high

permanent

Nation
al/regional
authorities,
conservation
agencies

2. Species recovery

9.

Prepare
S. citellus

reintroduction plan
common for all MS considering entire species
range and assessing reintroduction priorities.
Taking of
S. citellus

from the wild, captive
breedin
g and reintroduction must be based
on IUCN reintroduction guidelines.


Reintroduction plan prepared
and
adopted

all MS

high

m
edium
-
long

European
Commission,
European
S.
citellus

advisory/working
group, national
authorities,
Conservation
agencies,
research
institutions,
NGOs

10.

Coordinate reintroduction programmes on
national level applying common
reintroduction plan
.

Number of coordinated national
reintroduction programmes
reported

all MS

high

medium
-
long

National/regional
authorities,
conservation
agenc
ies

3. Mapping and monitoring

11.

Conduct detailed mapping of the
S. citellus

distribution in areas where data is lacking
.

Number/area of mapped localities
of
S. citellus
; size of total mapped
(checked) area (eventually
number of map sheets checked)

BG,
EL,
RO
, SK

high

short
-
medium

Research
institutions,
conservation
agencies, NGOs

12.

Conduct mapping/identification of potential
habitats for
S. citellus

for the sake of
reintroductions or translocations

Number/area of potential
S.
citellus

habitats mappe
d; size of
total mapped (checked) area
PL, SK

high

short
-
medium

Research
institutions,
conservation
THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

35

No.

Action

Indicator

MS

Priority
6

Time
scale
7

Responsible
organisations

(eventually number of map sheets
checked)

agencies, NGOs

13.

Work out and adopt minimal monitoring
standards for natural and translocated
S.
citellus

popul
ations
.

Minimal monitoring standards
developed and adopted by
Habitats Committee

all MS

essential

short
-
medium

European
Commission,
research
institutions,
conservation
authorities,
conservation
agencies

14.

Establish new or maintain existing monitoring
pr
ogrammes in each MS based on common
standards
.

Number of monitoring
programmes functioning

all MS

high,
essential:
EL, RO, SK

permanent

National/regional
conservation
authorities,
conservation
agencies

15.

Specify the species range by supporting
the
mappi
ng
of
S. citellus

distribution in non EU
states.

Number/area of mapped localities
of
S. citellus
; size of total mapped
(checked) area (eventually
number of map sheets checked)
in non EU states

EU

medium

short
-
medium

European
Commission,
research
institutio
ns,
conservation
agencies, NGOs

4. Scientific research

16.

Promote research on the ecology of
S.
citellus

metapopulations, mainly on minimum
viable populations and habitat, reproduction
and mortality rates, dispersal potentials
,
habitat preferences

and m
ovements of
S.
citellus

between habitat patches.

Population
viability analysis
.

Number of new researches
executed. Population viability
analysis prepared.

all MS

essential

short
-
medium

Research
institutions,
conservation
agencies,
foundations,
NGOs

17.

Pr
omote research on impact of human
activities affecting
S. citellus

habitat including
conservation
-
driven management practice.

Number of new researches
executed.

all MS

essential

short
-
medium

Research
institutions,
conservation
agencies,
foundations,
NGOs

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

36

No.

Action

Indicator

MS

Priority
6

Time
scale
7

Responsible
organisations

18.

Describe environmental conditions and other
factors affecting occurence of
S. citellus

in
vineyards and orchards
.

Research on factors affecting
occurrence of
S. citellus

in
vineyards and orchards executed.

AT, CZ

high

short
-
medium

Research
institution
s,
conservation
agencies,
foundations,
NGOs

19
.

Promote research on best practice
parameters of
S. citellus

translocations and
releasing of reared individuals including
research on adaptations of
S. citellus

to new
environment on release sites.

Research o
n
best practice
parameters of
S. citellus

translocations

executed.

all MS

essential

short
-
medium

Research
institutions,
conservation
agencies,
foundations,
NGOs

20
.

Promote survey on effects of the climate
change on habitat availability and ecology of
S.

citellus
.

Number of surveys on climate
change effects on
S. citellus

executed.

all MS

medium

short
-
medium

Research
institutions,
conservation
agencies,
foundations,
NGOs

5. Coordination and funding of the Action Plan implementation

21
.

Distribute
S. cit
ellus

EU SAP and ensure its
implementation through national action plans
and programmes
.

Number of national action plans
or similar instruments established

all MS

essential

permanent

European
Commission,
national/regional
nature
conservation
authorities

2
2
.

Ensure legal protection of
S. citellus

core
localities through their inclusion into Natura
2000 network
.

Number of
S. citellus

core
localities include in /population
covered by Natura 2000 network

all MS

essential

permanent

European
Commission,
nationa
l/regional
nature
conservation
authorities

23
.

Establish European
S. citellus

advisory/working group based on the
European Ground Squirrel Meeting platform,
which may supervise EU SAP
implementation and will be a partner for
gover
n
ments, authorities and s
takeholders in
European
S. citellus

advisory/working group

functional

all MS

high

short
-
medium

European
Commission,
national/regional
nature
conservation
authorities

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

37

No.

Action

Indicator

MS

Priority
6

Time
scale
7

Responsible
organisations

EU SAP implementation.

24
.

Prepare and implement
S. citellus

specific
agri
-
environmental
schemes

(AES)
.

Ensure
compatibility of other AES implemented on
S.
citellus

l
ocalities.

Number of ha included under
specific AES, population number
included under specific AES

all MS

essential

permanent

Conservation
agencies, site
managers, land
owners and

users

25
.

Identify appropriate funding resources for the
actions outlined in the SAP and inform all
potential beneficiaries.

Systemic solution f
or

SAP funding.

Proposal for financing of
S.
citellus

SAP/ analysis of funding
possibilities developed and
ado
pted by Habitats Committee

all MS

high

short
-
medium

European
Commission,
national/regional
nature
conservation
authorities,
S.
citellus

working
group

6. Public awareness, education and information

26
.

Pro
mote

S. citellus

as flagship species and
implement

awareness raising campaign
targeted on both stakeholders and general
public.

Awareness raising campaign on
stakeholders and general public
implemented

all MS

high

permanent

National/regional
nature
conservation
agencies, NGOs

27
.

Implement awareness rais
ing campaign for
farmers to reduce chemical inputs close to
S.
citellus

colonies.

Awareness raising campaign on
farmers and chemicals
implemented

all MS

high

permanent

National/regional
nature
conservation
agencies, NGOs

28
.

Implement awareness raising ca
mpaign
among wine and fruit producers on habitat
requirements and ecology of
S. citellus

and
possibilities for its conservations in vineyards
and orchards.

Awareness raising campaign on
wine and fruit producers
implemented

all MS

high

permanent

National/re
gional
nature
conservation
agencies, NGOs


3.
4
Monitoring

and review


This plan should be reviewed
,

at the latest, ten years
after publication

(
20
2
3)
. Nevertheless, a

continuous review of data on the species should allo
w for adjustments and adaptations in

areas where
the Plan
would been found
ineffective

or outdated
.


3.
5
Other species
and habitats
that may benefit from the SAP


From keeping the populati
on of
S
permophilus

citellus

i
n a favourable
conservation status, many other
species of conservation interest will benefit.
S. citellus

represents an important prey for many
predators
-

birds of prey such as the Imperial Eagle
Aquila heliaca
,
Golden Eagle
A
quila chrys
a
etos
,
Lesser Spotted Eagle
Aquila pomarina
,
Saker Falcon
Falco cherrug
, Long
-
legged
B
uzzard
Buteo
rufinus

and other raptors
; small carnivor
e
s such as Steppe Polecat
Mustela eversmanii
, Marbled
Polecat
Vormela peregusna

and possibly even reptile
s such as Four
-
lined Snake
Elaphe
quat
u
orlineata
.

Other species sharing the same habitat may also benefit
from the conservation of
S.
citellus

and its habitats
such as Romanian Hamster
Mesocricetus newtoni
, European Hamster
Cricetus cricetus
, Grey Hamster
Cricetulus migratorius
,
invertebrate species e.g.
Stenoboth
r
us
eurasius
,
Eresus cinnaberi
n
us
,
Xysticus marmoratus
,
Sisyphus schaefferi
,
Plagiolepis vindobonensis
,
Zygaena laeta
,
many species of gossamer
-
winged
butterflies

Lycaenidae
,

bees
Apidae
,

etc.
Some

species
are
directly dependent on
S. cittelus

occurrence
, such as the rare coprophagous (dung)
beetles
Ontophagus vitulus
,
Aphodius citellorum

feeding on excrements of
S. citellus
.

Old burrows of
S. citellus serve as a refuge for
Green

Toad
Bufo
viridis

a
nd perhaps also
Adder
Vipera berus
, the

Hungarian Meadow Viper
Vipera ursinii rakosiensis
,
smooth snake

Coronella austriaca

or other
amphibians and reptiles
. Also many plant species can benefit from the protection of
S. citellus
. For
instance
Gentiana cruc
iata
,
Stachys germanica
,
Inula conyza
and many other.


Keeping the habitat of
S. citellus

in a good condition may also help to protect several priority natural
habitats of Community importance listed in the Annex I of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EC


such

as

6110* Rupicolous calcareous or basophilic grasslands of the
Alysso
-
Sedion albi
,
6210 Semi
-
natural
dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco
-
Brometalia) (* important
orchid sites)
,
6240* Sub
-
Pannonic steppic grasslands
,
6250

* Pannonic loess steppic grasslands
,
6260
* Pannonic sand steppes

-

the habitats which similarly as
S. citellus

benefit from regular grazing
of domestic animals (mainly sheep and goats).
Moreover, since
S. citellus

feed
s
on s
hoo
ts of
Solanum
elaeagnifolium

increased populations may regulate

the spread of this invasive
plant
species

in natural
habitats

(
Y
OULATOS

in litt)
.




THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

39

References:


Ambros M., 1998: Poznámky k rozšíreniu a v
ýskytu sysľa pasienkového (Spermophilus citellus
Linnaeus, 1758) na Slovensku a perspektívy jeho ochrany. pp.: 133

142. In: Urban P. (ed.): Výskum a
ochrana cicavcov na Slovensku III. Zborník referátov z konferencie, Zvolen 10.

11. 10. 1997.
Slovenská agen
túra životného prostredia, Banská Bystrica, 156 pp.
(in Slovak).


Ambros M., 2008: Stav poznania rozšírenia sysľa pasienkového (Spermophilus citellus) na Slovensku
v rokoch 1996 až

2008. Lynx n.s., Praha, 39, 2:

219
-
233

(in Slovak)
.


Ambros M.
,

Hapl E.
,

20
08: Výsledky transferu sysľa pasienkového (Spermophilus citellus) z letiska v
Bratislave na vybrané l
okality na západnom Slovensku., pp:

72
-
85. In: Adamec M., Urban P. &
Adamcová M. (eds.), Výskum a ochrana cicavcov na Slovensku 8. Zborník referátov z ko
nferencie
(Zvolen 12.
-
13.
10.2007), Banská Bystrica, 248 p (in Slovak)
.


Anděra M.
,

Červený J., 2003:
Červený seznam savců České republiky [The Red List of Mammals of

the Czech Republic].
Příroda
,
22
: 121

129 (in Czech, with summaries
in
English and German)
.


Anděra
M.,
Hanzal

V.
,

1995
: Projekt “Sysel”. Podúkol A: Mapování výskytu sysla obecného
(Spermophilus citellus) na území České republiky. Zpráva o řešení I. a II. etapy, 1994
-
1995. AOPK
ČR Prague, 41 pp (in Czech).


Andjus, R.K.,
Živadinović

D.,
Marjano
vi
ć
M.
,

2000
:

Hypometabolism and longevity: a 9
-
year study in
laboratory
-
born ground squirrels. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B 126: S1
-
S108.


Aschauer A, Hoffmann I
.
E
.,

Millesi E
.,

2006: Endocrine profiles and reproductive output in Europea
n
ground squirrels after unilateral ovariectomy. Animal Reproduction Science 92, 392

400.


Baláž I., Jančová A., & Ambros M., 2008: Reštitúcia sysľa pasienkového (Spermophilus citellus) na
Slo
vensku. Lynx n.s., Praha, 39, 2:

235
-
240

(in Slovak)
.


Bashta A.
T., Potish L., 2007: Mammals of the Transcarpathian Region (Ukraine). Spermophilus
citellus (Linnaeus, 1766). Lviv: 106

107.


Brinkmann

M.
,

1951: Über die Zieselkolonien in Oberschlesien. Bonner Zoologische Beiträge 3
-
4:
191
-
216 (in German).


Coroiu C., Kr
yštufek B., Vohralík

V.
,

Zagorodnyuk

I.
,

2008
:

Spermophilus citellus
.
In: IUCN 2012.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. <
www.iucnredlist.org
>. Downloaded on

30
th

August 2012.

(
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/20472/0
)


Cyprich D., 1986: Rozšírenie a revízia špecifických bĺch (Siphonaptera) sysľa obyčajného (Citellus
citellus L.) s dôrazom na územie Slovenska, Ctenophtalmus orientalis (W
AGNER, 1898). Acta
Facultatis Rerum Naturalium Universitatis Comenianae, Zoologia , 12: 3
-
21.

(in Slovak).


Ćirović D., Ćosić N.
,

Penezić A., 2008
:

Population monitoring of the European ground squirrel
(
Spermophilus citellus
) in Serbia
.
Lynx n.s.
-

39(2):

343
-
344.


Ćosić N., Říčanová

Š., Bryja J., Penezić A., 2013:

Do rivers and human
-
induced habitat fragmentation
affect genetic diversity and population structure of the European ground squirrel at the edge of its
Pannonian range?
Conservation Genetics

Febr
uary 2013
.

Abstract available at:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10592
-
013
-
0466
-
y



Danila

I.,

1984
:

La composition de la nourriture de nature végétale chez la spermo
phile (
Citellus
citellus

L.) en Roumanie.
Travaux du Museum d’histoire naturelle

“Grigore Antipa”, 25

: 347
-
360 (in
French, with an abstract in English).


Danila
I.,
1989
: Food of animal nature in the ground squirrel (Citellus citellus L.) in Romania.
Anal
ele
stiintifice ale Universitatii “Al. I. Cuza” dis Iasi, Ser.
II, 35:68
-
70.

THE

N2K

GROUP

European Economic Interest Group


EU Species Action Plan



Spermophil
us citellus



second draft

40


Enzinger K., Walder

Ch.
, Gross

M.
, Berg

H
-
M.
, Moser
D.
,

Herzig

B.
,

2006
:

Vorkommen und Schutz
des Ziesels (Spermophilus ci
tellus) in Niederösterreich.
Final project report.
Lower

Austrian League of
Nature Conservation

(Naturschutzbund NÖ). 125 pp.

(in German)


Feiler A., 1988: Über das ehemalige Zieselvorkommen in der DDR (Rodentia, Sciuridae,
Spermophilus citellus

L. 1766).
Rudolfstädter Naturhistorischen Schriften, 1: 115

118.

(
in German)


Fraguedakis
-
Tsolis
S.E.,
1977
: An immunological study of the Ground squirrel
Citellus citellus

in
Greece. Mammalia 41: 62
-
66.


Fraguedakis
-
Tsolis
S.E.,
Ondrias
J.C.,
1985
: Geographic variation of the ground squirrel Citellus
citellus (Mammalia:

Rodentia) in Greece with a description of a new subspecies. Säugetierkundliche
Mitteilungen, 32: 185
-
198.



Gedeon C. I., Markó G., Németh I., Nyitrai V.
,

Altbäcker V., 2010: Nest material selection affects nest
insulation quality for the European ground
squirrel (
Spermophilus citellus
). Journal of Mammalogy:
June 2010, Vol. 91, No. 3, pp. 636