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Spalax microphthalmus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA SPALACIDAE

Scientific Name: Spalax microphthalmus
Species Authority: Guldenstaedt, 1770
Common Name(s):
English Greater Blind Mole Rat, GREATER BLIND MOLE RAT, Greater Mole Rat, GREATER MOLE RAT

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Tsytsulina, K., Formozov, N., Zagorodnyuk, I. & Sheftel, B.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Across most of its range it is abundant and common, and there is no evidence that it is declining at a rate approaching the threshold for consideration as threatened under criterion A. However, small and isolated populations in the northern part of the range could be threatened by habitat loss through ploughing.
History:
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Distributed in steppes and forest-steppes in Ukraine and S Russia between Dnepr and Volga Rivers, north to Orel-Kursk line, and south to Ciscaucasia (Gromov and Erbaeva 1995). In Crimea most probably absent since the Pleistocene. During Holocene the northern border of the range has moved significantly southward, leaving behind isolated relict populations, for example in Samarskaya Luka (Samara District, Russia).
Countries:
Native:
Russian Federation; Ukraine
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: A common species. In historical times in some parts of the range it became rare or even extinct, but elsewhere extended its extent of occurrence. In the northern part of the range and the Volga Region is occurs in small isolated populations and is considered rare. These populations are threatened by habitat loss (ploughing of major habitats). In the southern part of the range (Stavropol Region) in the 1950s, population and range declines occurred because of ploughing. Population density differs significantly in different parts of the range. Maximum densities are found in Central Black Earth Region (Russia) adjacent Ukrainian territories. Population density there is on average 3-10 individuals per hectare, however, locally it could reach up to 20. In the southern part of the range the density may be lower, as the arid climate of the steppes is less favourable. Populations are stable and do not undergone periodical fluctuations.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Obligatory subterranean species. Inhabits steppes; prefers lowlands with black earth and avoids loamy and sandy soils. Inhabits crop fields, melon plantations, gardens, orchards and forest belts. Feeds on underground parts of dandelion, cow parsnip, chicory and tree seedlings (oak, mulberry, acacia). Makes hoards for winter, sometimes up to 10-14 kg. Breeds once a year, females give birth in March to 2-5 young. During dispersal juveniles emerge above ground and often fall prey to carnivorous mammals and birds. A significant pest in southern parts of the range.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ploughing of major habitats and use of toxic chemicals for pest control.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Locally protected in a number of State Reserves and national parks.

Citation: Tsytsulina, K., Formozov, N., Zagorodnyuk, I. & Sheftel, B. 2008. Spalax microphthalmus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 16 September 2014.
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