Neamblysomus julianae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Afrosoricida Chrysochloridae

Scientific Name: Neamblysomus julianae (Meester, 1972)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Juliana's Golden Mole
Amblysomus julianae Meester, 1972
Taxonomic Notes: Assigned to the genus Neamblysomus by Bronner (1995). Consistent colour, dental and DNA differences exist between subpopulations from the eastern and western geographical extremes of its distributional range suggest that it may include two taxa (Bronner 1990, 1995). Ongoing molecular research suggests pronounced genetic partitioning between the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the other two subpopulations (Maree et al. 2003; Jackson et al. 2007a; unpublished data). More specimens from KNP area are urgently needed to clarify the taxonomic status of this subpopulation. The outcome could have profound implications for the conservation status of the species).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-01-27
Assessor(s): Maree, S.
Reviewer(s): Bennett, N.C. & Taylor, A.
Contributor(s): Bronner, G.

In 2008 the species was listed as Vulnerable in view of estimated area of occupancy (AOO) (less than 2,000 km²). New information led to  more accurate calculations of AOO (160 km2) and confirmed that the population is severely fragmented.  It is known from only three isolated and range-restricted subpopulations in South Africa; two of which occur within protected areas; there are no intermediate distribution records suggesting gene flow between them. Only a small part of the range of the subpopulation occurring in and around Nylsvley Provincial Nature Reserve (Modimolle district, Limpopo Province) falls within this protected area, the rest being in adjoining farmlands where suitable habitat is subject to severe alteration, degradation and fragmentation. Although almost the entire range of the Kruger National Park subpopulation (Mpumalanga Province) is protected in the southwestern section of the park, road infrastructure may form barriers that impede golden mole movements. The Bronberg Ridge subpopulation in eastern Tshwane (Gauteng) is not at all protected within a provincial or national reserve, and persistent quartzite mining, rapid urbanization and expansion of suburbs east of Tshwane are causing severe transformation, degradation and loss of remaining intact natural habitat within its very restricted distributional range on the ridge. Hence, the Bronberg Ridge is treated as a distinct subpopulation and while included here is also assessed separately. For these reasons the species is uplisted to Endangered status.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Three geographically separated subpopulations documented: 1) The Bronberg Ridge east of Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng. Confirmed records from the Willows (type locality), Wapadrand, Shere and Tierpoort on the northern side, and Olympus and Zwavelpoort on the southern side of the ridge; 2) Nylsvley flood plain, Modimolle district, Limpopo Province. Recorded from Nylsvley Provincial Nature Reserve and surrounding farms to the south, south-east and southwest of it (Jackson et al. 2007a, Jackson and Robertson 2011); 3) Numbi Gate, Pretoriuskop and Matjulwana districts of the southwestern Kruger National Park, in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga Province. A Species Distribution Model (SDM) compiled for all three populations using ecological niche modelling identified limited potentially suitable habitat for the species and enabled identification of two previously unrecorded localities in the Modimolle area (Jackson and Robertson 2011). This confirms previous suggestions of a wider distribution in the Modimolle area based on skull fragments identified from owl pellets at Witkoppen Cave, ca 25 km east of Nylsvley NR (Bronner 2008). No new populations were found in Gauteng. 

Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Gauteng, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:160
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:10
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Locally common, with 2-3 individuals/ha in prime habitat. However, dispersion is patchy and clumped within each subpopulation owing to specialized habitat requirements (e.g. soil characteristics, Jackson et al. 2007b). 

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:3Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is confined to sandy soils, often pockets of weathered sandstone associated with rocky ridges, in the Savanna biome of South Africa, and marginally into the Grassland biome in the Tshwane district (Gauteng). The subpopulation on Nylsvley floodplain occurs in Clay Thorn Bushveld, the Bronberg Ridge subpopulation east of Tshwane in Rocky Highveld Grassland, whereas the Kruger National Park locations occur in  Sour Lowveld Bushveld. Common in well-irrigated suburban and rural gardens. Absent from grasslands on the heavier soils of the Mpumalanga escarpment where the larger-sized A. septentrionalis and A. robustus instead occur.

The species’ presence is positively correlated with soil features (poorly graded size distribution of sand particles) that determine soil density, drainage, compatibility, and texture and penetration resistance. These influence energy expenditure of these golden moles during sand swimming/tunnelling (Jackson et al. 2007b). Subsurface foraging tunnels are visible as broken ridges on the soil surface; most foraging activity occur within the upper layer (10–20 mm; Bronner and Bennett 2005). Contrary to earlier reports of strictly nocturnal activity regimes, bimodal (but flexible) diurnal/nocturnal activity patterns were recently documented (Jackson et al. 2007a, 2009; radio-telemetry tracking of one specimen for six days in Nylsvley Nature Reserve). Activity patterns primarily dependent on ambient soil temperatures (Ta), the same resting site were consistently used. Body temperature fluctuated according to Ta and bouts of shallow torpor were recorded during periods of low soil Ta (Jackson et al. 2009).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Inferred major threats are habitat loss, modification and fragmentation as a result of anthropogenic activities. In the former Transvaal Province (South Africa), this species was given the highest regional priority score for mammals (Freitag and van Jaarsveld 1997). The type population on Bronberg Ridge (Gauteng) is severely impacted by degradation, fragmentation and loss of its natural soil habitat owing to intensive urbanization and an expanding quartzite mining operation within its highly restricted range (hence this subpopulation is also assessed separately). While the other two subpopulations (Modimolle district and southwestern Kruger National Park) occur within protected areas, there are no intermediate distribution records suggesting gene flow between them. Agricultural practices on farms surrounding the subpopulation from the vicinity of Nylsvley Provincial Nature Reserve are altering and degrading patches of suitable habitats on farms (Jackson et al. 2007a, 2007b), and could be reducing numbers at some locations of the Modimolle subpopulation. Roads infrastructure in Kruger National Park (soil compaction) may create barriers for golden mole movement. The direct and indirect impacts of various land uses on the species and its natural habitat may be poorly understood, but the effects of habitat fragmentation (especially in range-restricted taxa) causing obstructions to animal movement (≈ gene flow), increased inbreeding potential, reduced genetic variability and an increased risk of extinction.

The species’ elusive habits often obscure signs of its presence. Developers committed to follow recommendations of Environmental Management Plans (EMP) and Requirements of Development (RoD) are reliant on golden mole specialists for guidance in respect of minimizing impacts on the species. If genetic clarification reveal that two taxa exist within the current extent of occurrence (see Taxonomic Note), adequate measures to protect the reduced distributional ranges of each taxon would be all the more important.

Inferred minor threats are predation by domestic pets, persecution by gardeners and land owners.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Two of the three known subpopulations are protected within the Kruger National Park (south-western Pretoriuskop, Matjulwana and Numbi gate areas) and Nylsvley Provincial Nature Reserve, but the most threatened Bronberg Ridge subpopulation is unprotected (see separate subpopulation assessment).

In the former Transvaal Province (South Africa), this species was given the highest regional conservation priority score for mammals based on regional occupancy, relative taxonomic distinctiveness, endemism and vulnerability (Freitag and van Jaarsveld 1997). It was listed as Vulnerable under the Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) Regulations of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act of 2004 (NEMBA 2004), but will no longer be protected by ToPS as it was suggested that the species is not directly utilized by humans.

No Biodiversity Management Plan exists for the entire species. However, a multifaceted approach will be required to successfully conserve the species for future generations. In the short term, it is imperative that current attempts to integrate the available scientific data on the species with policy and legislation persists. This will require concerted efforts including legal intervention, commenting on biodiversity policy and legislation drafts, increased pressure from non-governmental conservation organizations, residents associations and the general public to ensure that laws, policies and regulations warranting its protection is enforced. Provincial and national regulatory bodies should be informed of the severe threats facing this ancient and biologically unique species.

In the long term, many aspects of its distribution, general biology, ecology, physiology, population trends, taxonomy and population genetics require further investigation to achieve effective conservation management strategies for the future. However, these  should build on foundations already set (Bronner 1995a,b, 2013; Bronner and Jenkins 2005; Maree et al. 2003; Jackson 2007; Jackson et al. 2007a,b, 2008, 2009; Jackson and Robertson 2011). Current research on the systematics status of subpopulations should be concluded and expanded to assess genetic differentiation at a regional and local scale. A thorough risk assessment should be done for each population to determine the effects of multiple land uses on the suitable habitat remaining in its distributional range.

Citation: Maree, S. 2015. Neamblysomus julianae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T1089A21285354. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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