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Spalax leucodon

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA SPALACIDAE

Scientific Name: Spalax leucodon
Species Authority: Nordmann, 1840
Common Name(s):
English Lesser Mole Rat, Lesser Blind Mole Rat
French Spalax Occidental
Spanish Rata-topo Occidental
Synonym(s):
Nannospalax leucodon (Nordmann, 1840)
Taxonomic Notes: It is likely that the species will be split into several species. Taxonomic work needs to be carried out on this group (ehrenbergi, leucodon and nehringi).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Kryštufek, B. & Amori, G.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Data Deficient because of taxonomic problems. The taxonomy of this species is currently crude and in need of revision. However, if after taxonomic revision the taxon is split into several different species, some of these may warrant listing as threatened.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The lesser mole rat occurs from Hungary and the Balkan peninsula through Moldova and the Ukraine to just east of the Dnestr river in Russia. It may also occur outside Europe in northwest Anatolia (Wilson and Reeder 2005). It is found from sea level to 2,400 m (Kryštufek 1999).
Countries:
Native:
Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Greece; Hungary; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Montenegro; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Turkey; Ukraine
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It has undergone range contractions and population declines in Europe. However, there are still areas where it is locally quite abundant. Population densities typically fall in the range of 1-13 individuals per hectare, but values of up to 23 individuals per hectare have been reported (Kryštufek 1999). Spalax leucodon is regarded as a superspecies that contains a number of forms that are well-differentiated at both a genotypic and phenotypic level, although their taxonomy remains unresolved. Some of these forms have very restricted ranges, and presumably small populations (Kryštufek 1999, B. Kryštufek pers. comm. 2006).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The mole rat inhabits steppe grassland, meadows and pastures, in areas with a deep layer of loose, freely-draining soil in which it digs its extensive burrows. It is absent from ploughed land and arable monocultures, although it may be found in agricultural lanscapes where there is a mixture of pastures, small crop-fields and orchards. It has a slow reproductive rate, raising litters of only 2-4 young (Kryštufek 1999). Mole-rats of the genus Spalax can be distinguished from all other rodents by the lack of any external openings for the eyes, although small eyes are present under the skin (Nowak 1999).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The mole-rat is threatened by habitat loss and land-use changes related to agricultural intensification and increased urbanisation and infrastructure development. It disappears when natural grasslands or pastures are ploughed up. When it was more common, it was an agricultural pest, and it is still persecuted as such in some areas (Kryštufek 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs within protected areas within its range. Taxonomic research is required (B. Kryštufek pers. comm. 2006).

Citation: Kryštufek, B. & Amori, G. 2008. Spalax leucodon. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 November 2014.
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