Ochotona hyperborea 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Ochotonidae

Scientific Name: Ochotona hyperborea
Species Authority: (Pallas, 1811)
Common Name(s):
English Northern Pika
Taxonomic Notes: O. hyperborea was formerly included in O. alpina (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). There are currently nine recognized subspecies: Ochotona hyperborea cinereoflava, O. h. coreana, O. h. ferruginea, O. h. hyperborea, O. h. mantchurica, O. h. normalis, O. h. uralensis, O. h. yesoensis, and O. h. yoshikurai (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). Recent studies indicate that O. h. mantchurica should be listed as a distinct species, Ochotona mantchurica (Formozov et al. 2006).

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 is characterized as common throughout its geographic range (Smith et al. 1990). There are concerns over the Japanese subspecies Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis, due to development activities, fragmentation, and global warming.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ochotona hyperborea has the largest geographic range of any pika. It extends from the Ural Mountains across northeastern Eurasia to Sakhalin, and Hokkaido (where it is an endemic subspecies Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis) (Ichikawa 1999). This species is also found on several islands in the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk (Smith et al. 1990). On Japan, found from sea level to 2,000 m, but usually above 800 m.
Countries occurrence:
China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol); Japan (Hokkaido); Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Mongolia; Russian Federation (Amur, Buryatiya, Chita, Irkutsk, Kamchatka, Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Magadan, Primoryi, Sakhalin, Tuva, Yakutiya)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Ochotona hyperborea is characterized as common throughout its geographic distribution (Smith et al. 1990). The Hokkaido subspecies is fragmented on isolated mountains (Mount Ashibetsu, Mount Yubari, and Hidaka Mountains) and patches of talus (Kawamichi pers. comm.).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Ochotona hyperborea primarily inhabits "the montane taiga of boreal Asia" (Smith et al. 1990). This species of pika is primarily a rock-dweller (Smith et al. 1990). However, it is known to utilize driftwood mounds that collect along riverbanks (Ognev 1966). Population densities remain relatively constant over time, but total density will vary according to location (Smith et al. 1990). A study of seven pairs of O. hyperborea found an average territory size of approximately 900 square meters (Gliwicz et al. 2005). O. hyperborea constructs large haypiles that are often fed on by other fauna within its range (Smith et al. 1990). One study conducted in Siberia found evidence that O. hyperborea is selective in choosing plants for their haypiles, preferring those that had high secondary compound content (i.e. tannins and secondary metabolites) (Gliwicz et al. 2006). This species was recorded as active day and night in the Ural Mountains (Ognev 1966). One study has proposed that longevity for this species rarely exceeds three years (Gashev 1971). The breeding season begins in the spring (Revin 1968). There are generally one to two litters produced each year (Revin 1968), but there are numerous exceptions to these values (Smith et al. 1990). Typical litter size ranges from one to nine young (Smith et al. 1990). Gestation for this species lasts 28 days (Gashev 1971; Sokolov et al. 1994). Reproductive periodicity varies according to region, but will typically begin in April (sometimes May) and extend through August (Sokolov et al. 1994). Newborns are 5.0-6.0 cm in length (Sokolov et al. 1994). The total length of O. hyperborea is 15.0-20.4 cm (Smith and Xie 2008).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known threats for Ochotona hyperborea throughout the majority of its range (Smith et al. 1990). This species was targeted for its pelt, but this activity ceased in the 1950's (Smith et al. 1990). O. h. yesoensis on Hokkaido Island was formerly considered a pest species and was the subject of control efforts (Smith et al. 1990). The isolated population in the Yubari-Ashibetsu Mountains appears vulnerable due to increasing development (Ichikawa 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known conservation measures in place for this species throughout most of its range. The Hokkaido subspecies is protected in national parks (Ichikawa 1999). In China, this species occurs in Liangshui Nature Reserve (CSIS 2008). In Mongolia, approximately 40% of the species' distribution occurs in protected areas (Clark et al. 2006). At present, the newly recognized species of Ochotona mantchurica (formerly O. hyperborea mantchurica) is not treated individually for this reassessment of Ochotonids. However, this is a species that requires research to determine its current status (Lissovsky pers. comm.). This species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern in Mongolia (Clark et al. 2006). In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern (Wang and Xie 2004).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.3. Shrubland - Boreal
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)

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]

China Species Information Service. 2008. Ochotona hyperborea. Available at:; (Accessed: May 29).

Clark, E.L., Munkhbat, J., Dulamtseren, S., Baillie, J.E.M., Batsaikhan, N., Samiya, R. and Stubbe, M. (eds). 2006. Mongolian Red List of Mammals. Regional Red List Series. pp. 159. Zoological Society of London, London, UK.

Formozov, N. A., Grigor'eva, T. V. and Surin, V. L. 2006. Molecular systematics of pikas of the subgenus Pika (Ochotona, Lagomorpha). Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 85(12): 1465-1473.

Gashev, N. S. 1971. Northern pika (Ochotona hyperborea Pallas, 1811). Mammals of Yamal and Polar Ural, pp. 4-74. Trudy Inst. Ekol. rasteni i zhivotnykh, Sverdlovsk.

Gliwicz, J., Pagacz, S. and Witczuk, J. 2006. Strategy of food plant selection in the Siberian northern pika, Ochotona hyperborea. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 38(1): 54-59.

Gliwicz, J., Witczuk, J. and Pagacz, S. 2005. Spatial behaviour of the rock-dwelling pika (Ochotona hyperborea). Journal of Zoology (London) 267: 113-120.

Gromov, I. M. and Erbajeva, M. A. 1995. The Mammals of Russia and Adjacent Territories. Russian Academy of Sciences Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia.

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.

Ichikawa, T. 1999. We want to hear pikas call: The story of the struggle of a small N.G.O. NAKIUSAGI Fan Club.

Mallon, D.P. 1985. The mammals of the Mongolian People's Republic. Mammal Review 15(2): 71-102.

Ognev, S. I. 1966. Mammals of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.

Revin, Y. U. 1968. On the biology of the northern pika (Ochotona alpina Pallas) in the Olekmp-Charskoye upland region. Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 47: 1075-1082.

Smith, A. T. and Xie, Y. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

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.

Sokolov, V. E., Yu Ivanitskaya, E., Gruzdev, V. V. and Heptner, V. G. 1994. Mammals of Russia and Adjoining Regions. Lagomorphs. Nauka Publishers, Moscow, Russia.

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

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Ochotona hyperborea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41263A10426828. . Downloaded on 23 October 2016.
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