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Scientists of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences took part in the preparation of the next edition of the Red Book of the city of Moscow. This is the first edition after the expansion of the territory of the capital, which increased by 2.4 times after the accession to it in 2012 of the areas of the so-called "New Moscow" (TiNAO). The annexed territory is intensively built up, quickly fragmented, and this process, according to expert estimates, may soon lead to the loss of up to 60% of forests. In Moscow, the transformation of parks continues, even in protected areas within the Moscow Ring Road, which is accompanied by the destruction of undergrowth, the removal of fallen leaves, old-growth trees, and the massive laying of bike paths and sidewalks. All this negatively affects the survival of animals in the city, depriving many species of places suitable for burrows and shelters, as well as leading to depletion of the food supply (insects and other invertebrates, fruits and seeds).

Common toad

The modern theriofauna of Moscow includes at least 43 species of mammals belonging to 6 orders. It is hardly possible to determine the exact number of species, since systematic censuses of the animal population are not carried out. The previous edition of the Red Book of the city of Moscow included 16 species of mammals belonging to 5 orders - European hedgehog, Eurasian water shrew, Brandt's bat, Daubenton’s bat, common long-eared bat, Nathusius’s pipistrelle, common noctule, parti-coloured bat, stoat, least weasel, black polecat, mountain hare, European hare, hazel dormouse, birch mouse, water vole. All of these species are included in the new edition. In addition, 8 more species of mammals have been added to the Red Book. These are European badger, pine and beech martens, flying squirrel, common beaver, harvest mouse, yellow-necked mouse and common hamster. Thus, in the new edition of the Red Book there are now 24 species of mammals, which is already more than 50% of the species composition of the city's theriofauna.The conservation status of a number of species has been changed to more threatened, but it is not yet clear whether this is due to a decline in their numbers or just additional information received.

The theriofauna of the TiNAO, in comparison with the "old" Moscow, is much less studied. Further monitoring studies are needed to clarify the status of mammal species in the annexed territory, in particular, badger, pine and beech martens, flying squirrels, harvest mice, yellow-necked mice, etc.

Employees of the IEE RAS examined all districts of the capital and made a detailed inventory of the habitats of reptiles and reservoirs - breeding grounds for amphibians. New, previously unrecorded, habitats were discovered. Detailed work was carried out with museum collections of both Russian and foreign museums, which store collections of reptiles and amphibians from Moscow. According to the results of the work, 6 species of reptiles and 8 species of amphibians are listed in the 3rd edition of the Red Book of the city of Moscow.

Baby mouse

The expansion of the boundaries of Moscow made it possible to include in the composition of the fauna of the city the rarest species of snakes - the non-poisonous smooth snake, previously noted only in the Moscow region. The common viper, previously considered extinct on the territory of Moscow, has been repeatedly noted here in recent years, which served as the basis for entering it into the Red Book of Moscow.

For the first time in decades, populations of the common spadefoot were identified in the city, which was considered extinct here until the early 1990s. Breeding reservoirs of the crested newt, a species that was also considered extinct for the territory inside the Moscow Ring Road, were discovered in this search. However, these species, along with the green toad, are exceptionally rare and endangered. Another species of amphibians - the fire-bellied toad - according to the results of the study, has to be considered presumably extinct in the city.

The new edition includes 16 species of fish, including three new species, such as sterlet. This fish of the sturgeon family in former times was common in rivers in Moscow, but later practically disappeared due to water pollution. In recent years, a slight recovery of the sterlet population is due to the release into the Moskva River of juveniles grown at the Mozhaisk experimental fish hatchery.

The conservation status of many animals in Moscow has been upgraded due to degradation and destruction of habitats and population decline. Among the "traditional" reasons for the decline of animal populations in the urban environment (such as pollution, fragmentation or disappearance of habitats, inbreeding of the remaining individuals, hunting by domestic animals), new negative factors are now increasingly relevant. From the second half of the twentieth century, the role of alien species is increasing. For example, an important reason for the suppression of amphibian populations on the territory of Moscow was the widespread distribution of the invasive sleeper fish (Perccottus glenii), introduced into the water bodies of the European part of Russia from the Far East. This fish actively destroys tadpoles, and reservoirs previously suitable for breeding newts and frogs cease to be such. The release of another invasive animal into the city ponds by amateurs is also a cause of concern - the North American pond slider, which, like the sleeper, is included in the list of the Top 100 invasive species most dangerous for the ecosystems of Russia. An insufficiently studied factor is the spread and role of diseases, including the invasive species - amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which caused the decline of many amphibian populations in different parts of the world, including Europe.

All species of reptiles and amphibians, a number of representatives of other groups of animals that are listed in the Red Book of Moscow, need urgent measures aimed at preserving their populations. The conservation of these animals in the urban environment is possible only with the adoption of a special urban program. Without taking a number of special measures, these species may disappear from the fauna of Moscow.

Thus, the Red Book is not only an important government document that establishes the status of a species, but also a tool for solving many biological problems of the species inhabiting the city.