Microtus pennsylvanicus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Cricetidae

Scientific Name: Microtus pennsylvanicus (Ord, 1815)
Common Name(s):
English Chihuahua Vole, Meadow Vole
Taxonomic Notes: Includes M. nesophilus and M. provectus, island populations that previously were regarded as distinct species (see Modi 1986; Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993, 2005). Microtus breweri from Muskeget Island, Massachusetts, sometimes has been included in this species but is here considered distinct; see Moyer et al. (1988) for recent study of relationships between these two taxa. Microtus pennsylvanicus has been proposed as conspecific with Old World M. agrestis, but chromosome differences support their recognition as distinct species (see Musser and Carleton 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-08-08
Assessor(s): Cassola, F.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Linzey, A. & Hammerson, G.A.
Listed as Least Concern because it is common and widely distributed, and there are no major threats.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs throughout most of Canada and Alaska (United States), south through the northern half of the United States, to Oregon, northern Utah, central New Mexico, Kansas, northern Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina; also disjunctly (by 500 km) in Florida and in Chihuahua, Mexico (Hall 1981). Its range has expanded southward in the Great Plains since the mid-1960s as the climate has become cooler and more mesic (Frey 1992).
Countries occurrence:
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland I, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Québec, Saskatchewan, Yukon); Mexico; United States (Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is widespread in North America and common in many areas. In recent decades, its range has expanded southward in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky (Krupa and Haskins 1996). High densities of 50-60 per acre are not unusual; average densities are probably closer to 8-10 per acre (Baker 1983).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is found in a wide variety of habitats from dry pastures and wooded swamps to marshes and orchards. Needs loose organic soils for tunneling. Builds extensive underground tunnels. Nests in these tunnels under rocks or logs, and in self-constructed grassy clumps. Breeds throughout year. Peak breeding activity occurs April-October. Gestation lasts about 21 days. Litter size is 1-9 (average 4-5). Litter size is smaller in fall than in spring/summer, there may be 5-10 litters per year.

Home range seldom exceeds 0.25 acres (Banfield 1974). Successful homing of 11 of 848 voles displaced 1.2 km indicates that dispersal distance probably is more than 1 km (Ostfeld and Manson 1996). Diet consists mainly of vegetable matter, such as grasses, roots and seeds. Active day and night throughout the year.

This species can an affect old-field succession through seedling predation (Ostfeld and Canham 1993). It may inflict serious damage on apple trees by feeding on bark and vascular tissues of lower trunks and roots (Tobin and Richmond 1993). Expanding populations apparently are displacing the southern bog lemming via competitive exclusion in southeastern Kentucky (Krupa and Haskins 1996).
Generation Length (years):0-1

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Its range includes several protected areas.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education

Bibliography [top]

Baker, R.H. 1983. Michigan mammals. Michigan State University Press.

Banfield, A.W.F. 1974. The Mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press.

Frey, J. K. 1992. Response of a mammalian faunal element to climatic changes. Journal of Mammalogy 73: 43-50.

Hafner, D.J., Yensen, E. and Kirkland, G.L., Jr. 1998. Status survey and conservation action plan - North American Rodents. IUCN/SSC Rodent Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

Hall, E.R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2017).

Krupa, J. J. and Haskins, K. E. 1996. Invasion of the meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) in southeastern Kentucky and its possible impact on the southern bog lemming (Synaptomys cooperi). American Midland Naturalist 135: 14-22.

Modi, W.S. 1986. Karyotypic differentiation among two sibling species pairs of New World microtine rodents. Journal of Mammalogy 67: 159-165.

Moyer, C. A., Adler, G. H. and Tamarin, R. H. 1988. Systematics of New England Microtus, with emphasis on Microtus breweri. Journal of Mammalogy 69: 782-794.

Musser, G.G. and Carleton, M.D. 1993. Family Muridae. In: D.E. Wilson and D.A. Reeder (eds), Mammal species of the world: A taxonomic and geographic reference, pp. 501-736. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Musser, G.G. and Carleton, M.D. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. In: D.E. Wilson and D.A. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: a geographic and taxonomic reference, pp. 894-1531. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Ostfeld, R. S. and Canham, C. D. 1993. Effects of meadow vole population density on tree seedling survival in old fields. Ecology 74: 1792-1801.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Reich, L. M. 1981. Microtus pennsylvanicus. Mammalian Species 159: 1-8.

Tobin, M. E. and Richmond, M. E. 1993. Vole management in fruit orchards. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 5.

Wilson, D.E. and Ruff, S. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Cassola, F. 2016. Microtus pennsylvanicus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T13452A115114123. . Downloaded on 22 April 2018.
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