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Amblysomus septentrionalis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA AFROSORICIDA CHRYSOCHLORIDAE

Scientific Name: Amblysomus septentrionalis
Species Authority: Roberts, 1913
Common Name(s):
English Highveld Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Traditionally recognized as a subspecies of the Zulu Golden Mole (A. iris - a species now incorporated into A. hottentotus and A. corriae). Bronner (1996) raised septentrionalis to a full species based on unique chromosomal and craniometric properties. No subspecies currently recognized (Bronner and Jenkins 2005), but orangensis from Parys/Heilbron district may qualify for subspecies status pending the availability of chromosomal and genetic data.

Assessment Information [top]

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

The species is listed as Near Threatened as it is currently known from 12 localities, with an area of occupancy estimated at 2,500 km² (insufficient for a Vulnerable listing under Criterion B2), and based on multivariate morphometrics predictions it is probably more widespread than current records indicate (Bronner 2000). Observed habitat degradation associated with mining for shallow coal deposits to fuel numerous power stations that occur in the preferred high-altitude grassland habitats of this species 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. Farming and agro-forestry (exotic pine and eucalyptus plantations) have also transformed habitat, but less dramatically; this does not appear to pose a major threat. Research is currently underway to acquire data on distribution limits. Data is required to shed light on ecology, behaviour densities and reproduction. It almost qualifies as threatened under criterion B2ab(ii,iii).

History:
2006 Near Threatened

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The species occurs in South Africa, ranging in the Mpumalanga Highveld from Wakkerstroom northwards to Ermelo and Barberton, and westwards through Standerton district to northeastern Free State (Heilbron/Parys) and possibly eastwards into northeastern Swaziland (Piggs Peak/Mbabane) based on equivocal morphometric identifications that await confirmation by genetic data. A population from the Harrismith area is also provisionally attributed to this form. Distribution models currently being refined predict that geographic range also extends westwards and southwards into other parts of the northeastern Free State.
Countries:
Native:
South Africa (Free State, Mpumalanga)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

The species is locally common; trapping data suggest densities of 3 ha-1 at one locality in the Wakkerstroom district. Based on current estimates of area of occupancy (AOO), the global population is well over 10,000 individuals.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Occurs in meadows and edges of marshes in high-altitude grasslands of Mpumalanga, possibly extending toward the Free State and Gauteng borders. Restricted to friable soils in valleys and on mountainsides, where individuals may co-exist with the Rough-haired Golden Mole, Chrysospalax villosus. Common in well-irrigated farmyards, gardens, golf courses, and present also in exotic plantations, though seemingly at lower densities. In the Wakkerstroom district it is found in thickets of Oldwood trees (Leucosidea sericea) on the banks of streams in valleys, but avoid scrubby vegetation in kloofs and along rocky ridges, where it is replaced by Sclater’s Golden Mole Chlorotalpa sclateri (Bronner 2013).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The major threat to this species is likely to be habitat alteration/degradation associated with mining of shallow coal deposits to fuel numerous power stations in the region 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. Habitat alteration owing to agriculture could be a more minor threat, but this species thrives in such landscapes and thus is probably not severely impacted; predation by domestic pets, and persecution by gardeners and greenkeepers, could represent a more localized threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Not recorded from any provincial or national nature reserves. Gelderblom et al. (1995) identified the southeastern Mpumalanga Highveld as a hotspot of chrysochlorid endemicity, and recommended that urgent action be taken to augment the national protected areas network in this region. Research needed to confirm distinctness from A. h. meesteri, A. robustus and A. h. longiceps, and to determine distributional limits of these taxa.

Citation: Rampartab, C. 2015. Amblysomus septentrionalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 04 August 2015.
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