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SPECIES Spermophilus (see comments) major

Author:Pallas, 1778.
Citation:Nova Spec. Quad. Glir. Ord.: 125.
Common Name:Russet Ground Squirrel
Type Locality:"Steppe near Samara," [Kuibyshev, Kuibyshevsk. Obl., Russia] (Ognev, 1963a:34).
Distribution:Steppe between Volga and Irtysh rivers (Russia; N Kazakhstan). Formerly, steppe between Don and Volga rivers (Russia; Gromov et al., 1965:291). Reported from Xinjiang (Ma et al., 1987); but probably a misidentified brevicauda.
Status:IUCN – Lower Risk (nt).
Comments:Subgenus Colobotis according to Gromov et al. (1965:290), but see Hall (1981:381) who included Colobotis in subgenus Spermophilus. Occasionally hybridizes with brevicauda and fulvus (Denisov, 1963; Nikol’skii and Starikov, 1997; Ognev, 1947), and more widely with pygmaeus and suslicus (Ermakov, 1996). Corbet (1978c:84) provisionally included erythrogenys and brevicauda in this species, but Gromov et al. (1965:290) and Vorontsov and Lyapunova (1970) considered erythrogenys a distinct species, and Gromov et al. (1965:315) included brevicauda in erythrogenys; see comment under those species. S. major is geographically cohesive, and allopatrically distributed with respect to brevicauda, and allopatric (Bobrinskii et al., 1965:61) or narrowly sympatric to erythrogenys (Sludskii et al., 1969:162). In contrast, it it genetically unstable, grouping with either brevicauda or pygmaeus in sequence data (Harrison et al., 2003), probably as a result of hybridization (see specimens examined). Formerly included relictus (Ellerman and Morrison-Scott, 1955).



    argyropuloi (Bazhanov, 1947)
    rufescens (Keyserling and Blasius, 1840)
    selevini (Argyropulo, 1941)

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