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Spalax graecus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA SPALACIDAE

Scientific Name: Spalax graecus
Species Authority: Nehring, 1898
Common Name(s):
English Balkan Blind Mole Rat, BALKAN BLIND MOLE RAT, Balkan Mole Rat, BALKAN MOLE RAT, Bukovin Mole Rat
French Spalax De Bukovine, SPALAX DE BUKOVINE
Spanish Rata-topo De Bukovina, RATA-TOPO DE BUKOVINA
Taxonomic Notes: Subspecies S. graecus istricus Mehely, 1909, is considered by some authors to be an independent species (see Wilson and Reeder 2005 for discussion).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Zagorodnyuk, I. & Coroiu, I.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
This species is assessed as Near Threatened (approaching criterion B2) at the European level, as it occurs at not many more than five locations, and agricultural intensification might be expected to impact the whole population over a short time period in the near future. The area of occupancy (AOO) is suspected to be less than 500 km², although it has not been estimated. The population is fragmented, so if an estimate of AOO was available, the species might qualify as Endangered under Criterion B2. In Romania at least, the mole rat population appears to be stable at present, although agricultural intensification may potentially become a threat in the near future. Population decline and range reduction can be presumed to have occurred in the past in Ukraine, where the species has not been recorded in the last 20-40 years and may have gone extinct. In Moldova, there is no information about population size or trend. Population monitoring is urgently required, as is research to determine the extent to which agricultural intensification is a threat, and to determine the AOO.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Balkan mole rat is a European endemic, known only from a small number of sites in Romania (Suceava, Craiova, Transylvania, and the lower Danube), south-eastern Ukraine (Cernovcy), and Moldova (Panteleyev 1998, Kryštufek 1999). Its range is very fragmented. It occurs in lowland and upland areas. In the Ukraine, the species has not been recorded over the last 20-40 years and it may be severely reduced, or already extinct there (I. Zagorodnyuk pers. comm. 2006).
Countries:
Native:
Moldova; Romania; Ukraine
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It has a small and fragmented range, within which it occurs at densities of ca.1-3 individuals per hectare (although densities of up to 23 individuals per hectare have been recorded) (Nowak 1999, Kryštufek 1999). The current population trend is unknown, although declines can be assumed to have occurred in Ukraine in the relatively recent past.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits steppe grassland, pastures, small cultivated fields and orchards, often preferring northern exposures (Kryštufek 1999, B. Kryštufek pers. comm. 2006). Very arid areas are avoided (Nowak 1999). Individuals aggregate in winter but disperse in summer (Kryštufek 1999). The mole-rat is a fossorial species, digging extensive and elaborate tunnel systems with nesting chambers, storerooms and latrines (Nowak 1999). It feeds on bulbs, roots, tubers, and other underground parts of a range of plants (Nowak 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): Its congener Spalax leucodon is threatened by agricultural intensification, as it cannot survive in intensively-farmed arable land. Spalax graecus may be similarly vulnerable to intensive agriculture. Subsistence agriculture continues in Transylvania, and the mole rat population appears to be stable there (I. Coroiu pers. comm. 2006), at least for the time being. However, accession of Romania to the EU might be expected to result in agricultural intensification in the near future.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, and on the Romanian and Ukrainian national Red Lists. A small reserve has been proposed in Transylvania to protect several species of plant and also, incidentally, Spalax (I. Coroiu pers. comm. 2006). Research is needed to determine population status and trends, ecological requirements, potential threats, and appropriate conservation measures for this little-known species.

Citation: Zagorodnyuk, I. & Coroiu, I. 2008. Spalax graecus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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