Mustela eversmanii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Mustela eversmanii Lesson, 1827
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Steppe Polecat, Steppe Weasel
French Putois des Steppes
Spanish Turón de la Estepa
Mustela amurensis (Ognev, 1930)
Mustela eversmannii Lesson, 1827 [orth. error]
Taxonomic Notes: Some authors (e.g., Pocock 1936, Ellerman and Morrison-Scott 1951) considered Mustela eversmanii conspecific with M. putorius, however most recognised these two taxa as closely related but distinct species (Heptner et al. 1967, Abramov 2000, Wozencraft 2005). Recent molecular (Davison et al. 1999, Kurose et al. 2000, Koepfli et al. 2008) and morphological (Abramov et al. 2016) studies support this point of view. This species includes Mustela amurensis, sometimes treated as a full species based on fur coloration (e.g., Gao et al. 1987, Wang and Yang 2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-01-03
Assessor(s): Maran, T., Skumatov, D., Abramov, A.V. & Kranz, A.
Reviewer(s): Pacifici, M.
Contributor(s): Dinets, V., Wozencraft, C, Stubbe, M., Cavallini, P. & Tikhonov, A.
Steppe Polecat is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, large population, and tolerance to some degree of habitat modification. Thus, the only criterion on which it might qualify as anything other than Least Concern would be A, rate of population decline. An accurate understanding of population trend is hindered by the high proportion of its range in remote areas and by the considerable population fluctuations it undergoes. There is good evidence from the westernmost part of its range of significant recent declines reflecting those of its major prey species (Šálek et al. 2013), and indications of shallow habitat-driven declines in China. However, it is believed to remain common across its Russian and central Asian range, which contains the large majority of its world population. Thus, it is considered unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category or even in Near Threatened. However, the information base for this categorisation is poor, and it is possible that with better understanding a Near Threatened categorisation might be found to be appropriate.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Steppe Polecat occurs east from Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria (central Europe) through southern Russia, northern Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan to Mongolia and northern and western China (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999, Wang 2003, Wozencraft 2005). A number of historical indications further south in China and one from Kashmir, India, lack precise localities; a single recent record from the upper Mustang, Nepal, is far south of any previous known location in the eastern part of the species's range (Pocock 1941, Chetri et al. 2014). Although there is only this one record from Nepal, some local people seem familiar with the species, indicating a resident population there (Chetri et al. 2014). In Europe this species is found in Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine (Šálek et al. 2013). The recent occurrence of the species in Serbia has apparently not been confirmed. It occurs in central and southern European Russia southward to northern Caucasus (along the Black Sea to Sukhumi, and along the Caspian Sea to Makhachkala); its northernmost range part passes along the eastern slope of the Ural Mts (up to 60° N) (Abramov and Khlyap 2012). Its distribution in Georgia is restricted to the disputed territory of Abkhazia (near Sukhumi).

It occurs up to 800 m in Europe and up to 2,600 m in central Asia; the single Nepal record was at 5,050 m (Chetri et al. 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Austria; Bulgaria; China; Czech Republic; Georgia; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Moldova; Mongolia; Nepal; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Unknown
Upper elevation limit (metres):5050
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In most of its range, Steppe Polecat is still numerous, particularly in southern European Russia, southern Siberia and Kazakhstan, although it is unevenly spaced and variably abundant across its range; it has unstable population densities, strongly dependent on food resources, and is capable of colonising new areas rapidly (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999). Population densities of M. eversmanii in Mongolia and northern Kazakhstan are similar (V.V. Kolesnikov per D. Skumatov pers. comm. 2016). Such information as is available suggests relative stability of the population in Kazakhstan (Ministry of National Economy Statistics Committee 2016) and Mongolia (S. Shar per D. Skumatov pers. comm. 2016). By contrast, there have been wide declines across much of its European distribution range since the 1960s (Šálek et al. 2013). It remains more widespread and numerous to the east of Europe, in the Asian part of its range.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Steppe Polecat inhabits a variety of relatively dry habitats including steppes, semi-deserts, pastures, and cultivated fields (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999). In south Siberia it often occurs in wooded steppes. Its diet consists mainly of rodents (including susliks Spermophilus, marmots Marmota, and various genera of hamsters, gerbils and voles) and pikas Ochotona. It avoids forests and is primarily nocturnal.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.3
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In the western parts of the species's range, it is not intentionally hunted, although some are by-catch with other species. In Russia it is commonly hunted for fur.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In the western parts of the species's range, it is not intentionally hunted, although some are by-catch with other species, but it is locally heavily impacted by persecution. Populations are declining widely in Europe (Šálek et al. 2013), perhaps in part reflecting wide declines in susliks Spermophilus: these are important prey there, but are themselves decreasing widely. It is likely that localised declines occur elsewhere through rodent and pika extermination campaigns. In Russia it is commonly hunted for fur. It is losing habitat in parts of China, Russia and central Asia with conversion of steppe lands to agriculture. In areas such as Kazakhstan where American Mink Neovison vison is common in riparian habitats, M. eversmanii may face problems.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Steppe Polecat is protected under Appendix II of the Bern Convention (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999). It occurs in many protected areas. Some local threats from hunting and persecution remain to be addressed. It is listed as Vulnerable in the Red Data Book of Ukraine. The subspecies M. e. amurensis is included in the Red Data Books in China and Russia (2001). In Russia, its listing reflects reductions in population size, and in China it is listed as Near Threatened because of habitat loss. The primary conservation need is for a better understanding of the population trend across its wide range, identification of which of the various potential threats are driving declines and where, and an assessment of how likely, and if appropriate, how rapidly, they are to spread more broadly. Intraspecific taxonomy needs to be clarified.

Citation: Maran, T., Skumatov, D., Abramov, A.V. & Kranz, A. 2016. Mustela eversmanii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T29679A45203762. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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