Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Afrosoricida Chrysochloridae

Scientific Name: Amblysomus robustus
Species Authority: Bronner, 2000
Common Name(s):
English Robust Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Previously included in A. hottentotus; elevated to a full species by Bronner (2000) based on unique karyotype, robust build and subtle craniometric differences from A. hottentotus and A. septentrionalis. Monotypic (Bronner and Jenkins 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-11-30
Assessor(s): Rampartab, C.
Reviewer(s): Bronner, G. & Taylor, A.

The species is listed Vulnerable because the extent of occurrence is estimated to be just under 5,000 km2, with continuing decline and possible severe fragmentation of habitat. Currently known from only five locations but probably more widespread than suggested by the sparse distribution records available (Bronner 2000, 2013). The Highveld grasslands favoured by this species are being degraded by mining for shallow coal deposits to fuel numerous power stations that occur in the preferred high-altitude grassland habitats of this species, which is an inferred major threat. Rehabilitation attempts at these sites have proved largely ineffective. These power stations form the backbone of South Africa's electricity network, and disturbance is likely to increase as human populations grow and the demand for power increases. While no mining sites and power generation plants occur at the five localities where this species has been collected, an environmental authorization application to mine coal at a site near Belfast, close to where this species occurs, is currently being assessed. Given the ubiquity of mines and power stations in the Mpumalanga grasslands, impacts on this species are likely if it is more widespread than current records indicate, which seems probable. Farming, tourism resort developments and agro-forestry (exotic pine and eucalyptus plantations) have also transformed habitat, but less dramatically; these does not appear to pose a major threat. More data required on distribution limits, ecology, densities and reproduction.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Vulnerable (VU)
2006 Vulnerable (VU)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The species is endemic to South Africa. Known only from the Steenkampsberg mountains in the Belfast and Dullstroom districts of eastern Mpumalanga, extending eastwards to Lydenberg and possibly southwards towards the Ermelo district where A. septentrionalis instead occurs.

Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Mpumalanga)
Number of Locations: 5
Continuing decline in number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Common in suitable natural habitats, also in gardens, orchards and cultivated lands; no quantitative data are available on population sizes or trends.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No
All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in montane grasslands and marshes in Moist Sandy Highveld Grassland. Prefers friable soils, from sands to quite heavy clays. Avoid shallow substrates along rocky ridges (which may act as dispersal barriers) and waterlogged areas. Also found in gardens and farmyards (Bronner 2013).
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The Highveld grasslands favoured by this species have been, and continue to be, altered and degraded by mining of shallow coal deposits to fuel numerous power stations in the region. Although these activities are not currently occurring at the five known localities, an environmental authorization application to mine coal in the Belfast area, where this species occurs, is currently being assessed. Given the ubiquity of mines and power stations in the Mpumalanga grasslands, this species is likely to be impacted if it is more widespread than current records indicate.

Agricultural activities, the development of numerous tourism resorts, and agroforestry have, and continue, to transform the habitat of this species, but it appears to survive (perhaps at lower densities) in such disturbed areas, suggesting that the nature and intensity of this alterations does not yet pose a major threat. Otherwise, predation by domestic pets, and persecution by gardeners in urban areas, likely represent more localized threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Recorded from the provincial Verloren-Vallei Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga. Research is currently underway to accurately determine distribution limits of this species, and to confirm its distinctness from A. hottentotus and A. septentrionalis using molecular data. Further research is required to document its basic ecology and reproductive parameters.

Citation: Rampartab, C. 2015. Amblysomus robustus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T62008A21284697. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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