For the first time a hematological approach has been used to assess the status of the population of Dione snake Elaphe dione in a Protected Area (protected area «Aytuarskaya steppe» of the State Nature Reserve «Orenburgskiy»). The blood formula (WBC) was calculated with the integral leukocyte indices (lymphocyte-granulocyte index, leukocyte shift index, index of the heterophiles and lymphocytes ratio, index of the heterophiles and eosinophils ratio, index of the lymphocytes and eosinophils ratio), the surface area of the main leukocyte types was measured: heterophiles, basophils, eosinophils, azurophiles, monocytes, and lymphocytes. Intraspecific gender differences were revealed for all the indicators studied. In females, the proportion of heterophiles and monocytes in peripheral blood is higher, compared with males; in contrast, the proportion of basophils and eosinophils is lower. Heterophiles, basophils, and eosinophils were characterised by moderate association with a qualitative trait (sex of the individual), and monocytes – by strong association (r = 0.82, R2 = 0.67, p = 0.001). Morphometric parameters of male granulocytic series exceeded similar parameters of female ones. There were no statistically significant differences in morphometric parameters of mononuclear cells (azurophiles, monocytes, and lymphocytes) between males and females. A strong positive correlation was found between the content of heterophiles (%) in the blood and the ratio of heterophiles and lymphocytes (r = 0.97, p = 0.001), which illustrated the significant contribution of the nonspecific blood defence system to adaptive responses of the body. The absence of differences in the integral index of the heterophiles and lymphocytes ratio for males and females (U = 1.33, p = 0.18) indicated a comparable level of impact and identity of the physiological adaptation mechanisms occurring in the animals in SPNA conditions. The haematic picture and the dynamics of leukocytal indexes of Elaphe dione living on the reserve territory reflected the active response of the organism to a complex of environmental factors , with the most pronounced activation of immune processes in females in comparison with males.
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