Ochotona curzoniae


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ochotona curzoniae
Species Authority: (Hodgson, 1858)
Common Name/s:
English Plateau Pika, Black-lipped Pika
Ochotona melanostoma (Büchner, 1890)
Taxonomic Notes: There are no recognized subspecies Ochotona curzoniae (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). This species was formerly included by some treatments in O. dauurica (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). The form melanostoma is a synonym of this species (Smith et al. 1990, Smith and Xie 2008). O. curzoniae is possibly sister taxa to O. nubrica (Hoffmann and Smith 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H.
Reviewer/s: Boyer, A.F. & Johnston, C.H. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
This is a widespread species that occurs in protected areas, but the current status of Chinese populations is declining due to aggressive poisoning campaigns designed to eradicate the species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ochotona curzoniae can be found throughout the Tibetan Plateau (Smith and Xie 2008). The geographic distribution extends through northern Nepal and Sikkim, India, north into Xizang, and the western regions of Sichuan, Qinghai and the southern regions of Xinjiang (Smith et al. 1990), and Gansu (CSIS 2008). It occurs at elevations of 3,000-5,000 m (Smith and Xie 2008).
China (Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet [or Xizang], Xinjiang); India (Sikkim); Nepal
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are no data regarding the current status of Ochotona curzoniae populations. It is inferred that declines have resulted during widespread poisoning of pikas throughout its range to control population sizes (Smith et al. 1990).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Ochotona curzoniae is a burrow-dwelling species of pika (Smith and Xie 2008). This species occurs in "high alpine desert, steppe and meadows" (Smith et al. 1990). In India and Nepal in occupies tropical and subtropical montane forests (Chakraborty et al. 2005). Competition of habitat results in the exclusion of O. cansus in areas where it and O. curzoniae are sympatric (Su 2001). Social behavior for O. curzoniae and O. dauurica differs when they exist sympatrically, than when they do not (Zhang et al. 2001). Under sympatric circumstances, O. curzoniae exhibits "mowing" behavior, while O. dauurica exhibits "hoarding" behavior (Zhang et al. 2001). O. curzoniae is exclusively an herbivore (Smith and Xie 2008). This species of pika is considered a highly social animal (Smith and Xie 2008). It is predominantly a diurnal species (Feng et al. 1986). Average home range for O. curzoniae is 1,375 ± 206 square meters (Smith and Gao 1991). Densities drop during winter to yearly lows in the spring, but increase during the summer to approximately 380/ha (Smith et al. 1990). The breeding season for this species extends from April, possibly into late August (Smith et al. 1990). O. curzoniae has three to five litters per year with two to eight young per litter (Smith and Xie 2008). Young become reproductively active the summer of their birth (Smith and Gao 1991). Generation length is estimated to be 1.2 years for O. curzoniae (Wang and Dai 1989). Total length is 14.0-19.2 cm (Smith and Xie 2008).

O. curzoniae is a keystone species of the Tibetan plateau. It is speculated that O. curzoniae contributes to the overall health of alpine meadows by aerating the soil via their burrowing activities (Smith and Foggin 1999). A recent study demonstrated that greater plant species diversity is associated with small-burrowing mammals (O. curzoniae and Alticola stoliczkanus) of the Trans-Himalayan plateau (Bagchi et al. 2006). It is also an important component of the prey base for many carnivores within their geographic range (Lai and Smith 2003). Burrows constructed by O. curzoniae serve as homes for lizards and small birds on the Tibetan plateau (Smith and Foggin 1999).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ochotona curzoniae is the target of mass control in an effort to eliminate competition for vegetation with livestock (Smith et al. 1990). Habitat in India and Nepal has experienced a qualitative and quantitative decline estimated at a rate of less than 10% since 2000 (Chakraborty et al. 2005). This trend is expected to continue until 2010 (Chakraborty et al. 2005). Small-scale logging and fuel wood collection has been identified as a reason for habitat loss (Chakraborty et al. 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is known to be present in Annapurna CP in western Nepal (Chakraborty et al. 2005), Zhumulangmafeng Nature Reserve in China (CSIS 2008), and is presumed to be present in the Qiangtang, Kekexili, Sanjiangyuan, and Aerjinshan Nature Reserves of China. This species is regionally Red Listed as Data Deficient in India and as Vulnerable in Nepal under criteria B2ab(iii) based on IUCN Red Listing Guidelines ver. 3.1 and 3.0 (Chakraborty et al. 2005). It is recommended that research be conducted to determine the status of the Indian and Nepalese populations (Chakraborty et al. 2005). O. curzoniae is a keystone species of the Tibetan plateau, one whose decline as a result of poisoning negatively impacts species richness and abundance (Lai and Smith 2003). Therefore, current efforts to exterminate this species in China should be curtailed. In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern (Wang and Xie 2004).

Bibliography [top]

Bagchi, S., Namgail, T. and Ritchie, M. E. 2006. Small mammalian herbivores as mediators of plant community dynamics in the high-altitude arid rangelands of Tans-Himalaya. Biological Conservation 127: 438-442.

Chakraborty, S., Bhattacharyya, T. P., Srinvasulu, C., Venkataraman, M., Goonatilake, W. L. D. P. T. S. de A., Sechrest, W. and Daniel, B. A. 2005. Ochotona curzoniae (Hodgson, 1858). In: S. Molur, C. Srinivasulu, B. Srinivasulu, S. Walker, P. O. Nameer and L. Ravikumar (eds), Status of South Asian Non-volant Small Mammals: Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P.) Workshop Report, pp. 618 pp.. Coimbatore, India.

China Species Information Service. 2008. Ochotona curzoniae. Available at: http://www.chinabiodiversity.com; http://www.baohu.org. (Accessed: June 25).

Feng, Z. J., Cai, G. Q. and Zheng, C. L. 1986. The Mammals of Xizang. The Comprehensive Scientific Expedition to the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Science Press, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China.

Hoffmann, R. S. and Smith, A. T. 2005. Order Lagomorpha. In: D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 185-211. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Lai, C. H. and Smith, A. T. 2003. Keystone status of plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae): effect of control on biodiversity of native birds. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 1901-1912.

Smith, A. and Xie, Y. 2008. The Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Smith, A. T. and Foggin, J. M. 1999. The Plateau Pika (Ochotona curzoniae) is a keystone species for biodiversity on the Tibetan plateau. Animal Conservation 2: 235-240.

Smith, A. T. and Gao, W. X. 1991. Social relations of adult black-lipped pikas (Ochotona curzoniae). Journal of Mammalogy 72(2): 231-247.

Smith, A. T., Formozov, N. A., Hoffmann, R. S., Changlin, Z. and Erbajeva, M. A. 1990. The Pikas. In: J. A. Chapman and J. C. Flux (eds), Rabbits, Hares and Pikas: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, pp. 14-60. The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.

Su, J. P. 2001. A Comparative Study on the Habitat Selection of Plateau Pika (Ochotona curzoniae) and Gansu Pika (Ochotona cansus). Thesis, Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology.

Wang, S. and Xie, Y. 2004. China Species Red List. Vol. 1 Red List. Higher Education Press, Beijing, China.

Wang, X. G. and Dai, K. 1989. Natural longevity of plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae). Acta Theriologica Sinica 9: 56-62.

Zhang, D., Fan, N. and Yin, H. 2001. Comparative analysis of behavior between Ochotona daurica and Ochotona curzoniae in sympatric coexistence. Journal of Hebei University, Natural Science Edition 21(1): 72-77.

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Ochotona curzoniae. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 April 2014.
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