Genetic Study of the Estonian Flying Squirrel Population in Comparison with Populations from Finland and Russia

The Estonian population size of the Siberian flying squirrel has been continuously declining, and by today, only fragmented populations remain, primarily in Ida-Virumaa. Previous population genetic studies on this species were conducted only on the Finnish population. The aim of this study was to describe the genetic diversity of the flying squirrel population in Estonia and compare it with populations from Finland and the Karelia region of Russia. For the first time, non-invasively collected fecal samples were used for flying squirrel research. The study found that the Estonian flying squirrel population is genetically more homogeneous and less diverse compared to populations in neighboring countries.

The initial study was completed in collaboration with SA Lutreola in 2017 but was later expanded and published as a scientific article titled “Genetic diversity in Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) in its western frontier with a focus on the Estonian population” in the journal Mammal Research in 2020.

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