Marina V. Rutovskaya, Dr.Sc., Senior Researcher at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAS (Russia, 119071, Moscow, Leninsky Prospect, 33); e-mail:
Alexander N. Aleksandrov, Researcher of the State Nature Reserve «Prisursky» (Russia, 428034, Cheboksary, settlement Lesnoy, 9); e-mail:
Valentina N. Podshivalina, PhD, Leading Researcher of the State Nature Reserve «Prisursky» (Russia, 428034, Cheboksary, settlement Lesnoy, 9); Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Zoology and Ecology in the I.N. Ulyanova Chuvash State University (Russia, 428034, Chuvash Republic, Cheboksary, Universitetskaya Street, 38); e-mail:
Alena S. Soboleva, Student of the Russian State Agrarian University - Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy (Russia, 127550, Moscow, Timiryazevskaya Street, 49); Junior Researcher at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAS (Russia, 119071, Moscow, Leninsky Prospect, 33); e-mail:
Oleg V. Glushenkov, PhD, Leading Researcher of the State Natural Reserve «Prisursky» (Russia, 428034, Cheboksary, settlement Lesnoy, 9); Leading Researcher of the Chavash Varmane National Park (Russia, 429170, Chuvash Republic, settlement Shemursha, Kosmovskogo Street, 37); e-mail:

Reference to article

Rutovskaya M.V., Aleksandrov A.N., Podshivalina V.N., Soboleva A.S., Glushenkov O.V. 2020. Habitat conditions of Desmana moschata (Talpidae, Eulipotyphla, Mammalia) in the buffer zone of the Prisurskiy State Nature Reserve (Russia). Nature Conservation Research 5(2): 36–46.

Section Research articles

The study of bathymetry, macrozoobenthos abundance and the Russian desman population has been performed in the water bodies located in the Prisurskiy State Nature Reserve buffer zone (River Sura lower reaches floodplain). Twenty-one water bodies were examined in total. In six lakes, Desmana moschata (Russian desman) was absent. In nine lakes, the settlement density was less than 5 burrows per 1 km coastline. And in six lakes, the settlement density was high (i.e. more than 5 burrows per 1 km). The studied parameters of the lake basin included the depth of the lake, the water acidity (pH), dissolved oxygen concentration, the type of the plant cover of the shoreline (forest, shrub, steppe), and anthropogenic load. The taxonomical analysis and individual weighing of the animals in the macrozoobenthos samples were performed. All the parameters were then included to an analysis of the Russian desman density. The factors affecting the density of the Russian desman burrows were revealed. The water bodies having more than five burrows per 1 km along the shoreline are characterised by a higher abundance of macrozoobenthos and especially by the highest mollusk biomass. In turn, the abundance of mollusks, the main food, depends on the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water, trophic state of the lake, and the bottom slope. The highest density of the Russian desman was registered in the lakes characterised by a high biomass of the gastropods Lymnaea stagnalis and Viviparus (Contectiana) contecta. It was noticed that the Russian desman preferred to inhabit wide-course water bodies characterised by a high density of trees or bush along the shoreline. Therefore, the factors mentioned above may appear as the indirect characteristics of the water body with optimal habitat conditions for the Russian desman. Other water body characteristics, such as depth, may define the temporary optimum conditions for the Russian desman inhabiting. The combination of different conditions in a certain area allows the Russian desman to choose suitable water bodies, depending on the annual climatic conditions. There is a combination of a steppe (meadow) and forest areas in the River Sura lower reaches floodplain. Thus, this floodplain may be named as the most suitable for the Russian desman inhabitance.


floodplain, fodder base, habitat preference, macrozoobenthos, Russian desman, River Sura lower reaches

Artice information

Received: 29.06.2019. Revised: 20.11.2019. Accepted: 22.02.2020.

The full text of the article

Abakumov V.A., Talskikh V.N., Popchenko V.I., Bulgakov G.P., Svirskaya N.L., Krineva S.V., Popchenko I.I., Semin V.A., Khromov V.M., Raspopov I.M., Margolina G.L., Voronova L.D., Pushkar I.N. 1992. Guide to hydrobiological monitoring of freshwater ecosystems. Saint-Petersburg: Gidrometeoizdat. 180 p. [In Russian]
Aleksandrov A.N. 2015. Toponymy of the oxbow lakes located in the buffer zone of the State Nature Reserve «Prisurskiy». Proceedings of the Prisurskiy State Nature Reserve 30(2): 140–145. [In Russian]
Aspisov D.I. 1955. The ways of Russian desman resources use due to Volga reservoir building. Uchenye Zapiski Kazanskogo Universiteta. Seriya Estestvennye Nauki 115(8): 217–223. [In Russian]
Barabash-Nikiforov I.I. 1968. Environmental factors affecting the Russian desmans and tasks of the desman's farm. In: Some problems of biology and soil science. Voronezh: Voronezh State University. P. 37–40. [In Russian]
Bogoslovsky B.B. 1960. Ozerovedeniye. Moscow: Moscow State University Publishing House. 335 p. [In Russian]
Borodin L.P. 1963. Russian desman. Saransk: Mordovia Book Publishing House. 301 p. [In Russian]
Carlson R.E. 1977. A trophic state index for lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 22(2): 361–369. DOI: 10.4319/lo.1977.22.2.0361
Eskova K.A., Belovezhets K.I., Kosinsky A.A., Moreva Yu.O., Popov I.A., Rutovskaya M.V. 2018. Thermal mode of the habitats of the Russian desman (Desmana moschata, Talpidae, Soricomorpha). Povolzhskiy Journal of Ecology 1: 16–25. DOI: 10.18500/1684-7318-2018-1-16-25 [In Russian]
Glushenkov O.V., Aleksandrov A.N., Rutovskaya M.V. 2018. Russian desman habitat evaluation in the Sura River floodplain at the territory of the State Nature Reserve «Prisurskiy» buffer zone. Proceedings of the Prisurskiy State Nature Reserve 33: 105–114. [In Russian]
Gusakov V.A. 2010. Bottom meiofauna of karst lakes in the Vladimir region: composition and abundance level during spring – autumn period. In: Water invertebrate's ecology. Borok. P. 70–74. [In Russian]
Ivanov A.A. 1981. Characteristics of the forage base of the Russian desman in the middle course of the river Klyazma. In: Biological aspects of the protection of rare animals. Moscow: All-Russian Research Institute of Nature. P. 17–23. [In Russian]
Ivanov P.V. 1949. Classification of lakes of the world by size and by average depth. Bulletin of Leningrad State University 21: 29–36. [In Russian]
Khakhin G.V. 2009. Russian desman in danger: Dynamics of numbers and problem of protection. Moscow: Publishing House of the Biodiversity Conservation Centre. 104 p. [In Russian]
Khakhin G.V., Ivanov A.A. 1990. Desman. Moscow: Agropromizdat. 191 p. [In Russian]
Kitaev S.P. 2007. Basic general limnology for hydrobiologists and ichthyologists. Petrozavodsk: Karelian Research Centre of RAS. 395 p. [In Russian]
Minaev A.N., Purikov A.V., Rutovskaya M.V., Makhotkina K.A., Surov A.V., Ivlev Yu.F. 2016. The radio transmitter for telemetric filing of shallow and average size animals body temperature. Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 95(1): 108–119. DOI: 10.7868/50044513416010104 [In Russian]
Mitropolsky V.I., Mordukhay-Boltovskoy F.D. 1975. Macrobenthos. In: Technique of internal water bodies biogeocenoses studying. Moscow: Nauka. P. 158–170. [In Russian]
Nazyrova R.I. 2000. Ecological and geographical analysis of the distribution of Russian desman (Desmana moschata L., 1758) in connection with the problem of species protection. PhD Thesis. Moscow. 171 p. [In Russian]
Onufrenya A.S. 1986. Restoration of shallow floodplain water bodies as one of the methods to increase the number of Russian desmans. In: Natural resources of protected areas, the prospects for their protection in the conditions of accelerated scientific and technological progress. Voronezh. P. 114–115. [In Russian]
Onufrenya A.S., Onufrenya M.V. 2005. Some aspects of Russian desman Desmana moschata biology in the Oka river middle current. Proceedings of the Oka State Nature Biosphere Reserve 24: 92–134. [In Russian]
Onufrenya A.S., Onufrenya M.V. 2016. Russian desman in Oka basin. Proceedings of the Oka State Nature Biosphere Reserve 37: 1–204. [In Russian]
Onufrenya A.S., Onufrenya M.V., Rutovskaya M.V., Makhotkina K.A., Moreva Yu.O., Kabykhnova A.E., Sergeev M.A., Vozbranny A.E., Serdakova E.Yu., Mayorova S.O., Tenyakov S.A. 2012. Russian desman in the territory of the Vladimir region. In: Protected Areas in the Vladimir region and adjacent regions. Vladimir: Gamma-Print. P. 125131. [In Russian]
Onufrenya M.V., Onufrenya A.S., Makhotkina K.A., Rutovskaya M.V. 2014. Russian desman survival srategy during spring flood. In: Behaviour and behavioural ecology of mammals. Moscow: KMK Scientific Press Ltd. P. 84. [In Russian]
Pesenko Yu.A. 1982. The principles and methods of the quantitative analysis in faunistic studies. Moscow: Nauka. 288 p. [In Russian]
Podshivalina V.N. 2018. Macrozoobenthos in floodplain lakes of the Sura River lower reaches as forage reserve for Desmana moschata Linnaeus, 1758. Proceedings of the Prisurskiy State Nature Reserve 33: 199–203. [In Russian]
Rockett J.C., Mapp F.L., Garges J.B., Luft J.C., Mori C., Dix D.J. 2001. Effects of hyperthermia on spermatogenesis, apoptosis, gene expression, and fertility in adult male mice. Biology of Reproduction 65(1): 229–239. DOI: 10.1095/biolreprod65.1.229
Rutovskaya M.V., Moreva Yu.O., Zaripova N.R., Kabykhnova A.E., Kosinsky A.A., Makhotkina K.A., Popov I.A., Sergeev M.A., Onufrenya A.S., Onufrenya M.V. 2013. Klyazma and its role in Russian desman preservation. In: Protected Areas in the Vladimir region and adjacent regions. Vladimir: Tranzit-IKS. P. 124–129. [In Russian]
Rutovskaya M.V., Onufrenya M.V., Onufrenya A.S. 2017. Russian desman (Desmana moschata: Talpidae) at the edge of disappearance. Nature Conservation Research 2(Suppl. 1): 100–112. DOI: 10.24189/ncr.2017.020
Rutovskaya M.V., Glushenkov O.V., Bereznoy M.A., Eskova K.A., Popov I.A., Soboleva A.S. 2018. Current population status of the Russian desman on floodplain lakes of the Alatyrsky cluster buffer zone at the Nature Reserve «Prisurskiy». Proceedings of the Prisurskiy State Nature Reserve 33: 204–208. [In Russian]
Samarin V.F. 1975. The value of aquatic vegetation in the emanated lands of the European part of the USSR. Vestnik Zoologii 3: 25–28. [In Russian]
Sukhov V.P., Onufrenya A.S. 1990. Subcutaneous temperature of Russian desman in the autumn – winter period. In: System of thermoregulation when adapting the body to environmental factors. Novosibirsk. P. 104–105. [In Russian]
Wetzel R.G. 2001. Limnology: Lake and River Ecosystems. San Diego: Academic Press. 1006 p.