Ochotona roylei 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Ochotonidae

Scientific Name: Ochotona roylei (Ogilby, 1839)
Common Name(s):
English Royle's Pika, Himalayan Mouse Hare
Ochotona himalayana Feng, 1973
Taxonomic Source(s): Lissovsky, A.A. 2014. Taxonomic revision of pikas Ochotona (Lagomorpha, Mammalia) at the species level. Mammalia 78(2): 199–216.
Taxonomic Notes: Subgenus Conothoa. There are four recognized subspecies: Ochotona roylei nepalensis (includes angdawai, mitchelli), O. r. himalayana, O. r. wardi, and O. r. roylei. A controversial species, O. roylei has as one time or another been associated with the forms macrotis, cansus, forresti, himalayana, lama, and nubrica. Four of these forms are currently considered independent species: macrotis, cansus, forresti and nubrica. lama is considered a synonym of nubrica and himalayana, while initially being named as an independent form, and considered as such in the 2008 Global Mammal Assessment, is now considered a subspecies of O. roylei. Morphological and ecological similarity have led many to consider roylei and macrotis sister species; and this has been further pushed with molecular data from Genbank. However, the roylei sample in Genbank is actually from O. macrotis chinensis – unsurprisingly leading to the similarity in these analyses. Now it is known that these forms are sufficiently dissimilar as to not be considered sister species (Lissovsky 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-07-09
Assessor(s): Smith, A.T. and Bhattacharyya, S.
Reviewer(s): Battistoni, A.
Contributor(s): Boyer, A.F.
Ochotona roylei is listed as Least Concern; it is a widespread species that does not appear to be experiencing a notable decline in overall distribution or abundance (Smith et al. 1990, Chakraborty et al. 2005, Bhattacharyya et al. 2009). There is some evidence that the lower elevational distribution may be truncated due to the effects of global warming (Bhattacharrya et al. 2009).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ochotona roylei occurs in the Himalayan massif through Pakistan, Kashmir, northwestern India, Nepal, and Tibet (Smith et al. 1990). Records  from western China should  be attributed to O. macrotis chinensis (Smith et al. 1990, Lissovsky 2014).

O. roylei occurs from 2,400-5,200 m in elevation.
Countries occurrence:
China (Tibet [or Xizang]); India (Jammu-Kashmir); Nepal; Pakistan
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):2400
Upper elevation limit (metres):5200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Though there are no current population assessments of Ochotona roylei, it is considered widespread without serious threats to jeopardize its status (Chakraborty et al. 2005). In the Ladakh region of India, it was characterized as uncommon, but without any known threats (Mallon 1991). Bhattacharyya et al. (2009) have found that there may be some range contraction at lower elevations.

Trend Justification:  Population trend is stable; perhaps declining in some lower elevation locations.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Ochotona roylei is a primarily crepuscular, talus-dwelling species (Smith et al. 1990). They live in groups composed of parents and their offspring, with low densities (12.5 per ha) characteristic of talus-dwelling pikas (Smith et al. 1990). Females of the species may produce one or two litters annually with an average of 3 offspring per litter (Smith et al. 1990).

O. roylei exhibits a symbiotic relationship with Pnoepyge albiventer, the Scaly Breasted Wren Babbler in Nepal. This species of bird will co-occupy the pika's haypile, forage for food in close proximity to the pika, and sun itself with the pika. Potential reasons for the relationship are: 1.) lack of nesting sites for the babbler, 2.) similar life styles, 3.) the additional heat provided by the bird to the haypile is beneficial to the pika, 4.) utilization of different food sources, and 5.) additional protection against predation (Khana 2007).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ochotona roylei is affected by small-scale logging and livestock grazing, but these are not considered serious threats to the distribution or abundance of the species (Smith et al. 1990; Chakraborty et al. 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Chinese populations have been classified as Near Threatened (Jiang et al. 2016). Occur in the transborder parks along the Nepalese/Chinese border.

Classifications [top]

0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.5. Other impacts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Abe, H. 1971. Small mammals of central Nepal. Journal of the Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University 56: 367-423.

Bhattacharyya, S. 2013. Habitat Ecology of Royle’s Pika (Ochotona roylei) Along Altitudinal Gradient with Special Reference Foraging Behaviour in Western Himalaya. Ph.D. thesis.

Bhattacharyya, S., Adhikari, B. and Rawat, G. 2010. Abundance of Royle’s pika (Ochotona roylei) along an altitudinal gradient in Uttarakhand, Western Himalaya. Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy 20: 111-119.

Bhattacharyya, S., Adhikari, B.S. and Rawat, G.S. 2013. Forage selection by Royle's pika (Ochotona roylei) in the western Himalaya, India. Zoology 116: 300-306.

Bhattacharyya, S., Adhikari, B.S. and Rawat, G.S. 2014a. Influence of snow, food, and rock cover on Royle's pika abundance in western Himalaya. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 46: 558-567.

Bhattacharyya, S., Adhikari, B.S. and Rawat, G.S. 2014b. Influence of microclimate on the activity of Royle's pika in the western Himalaya, India. Zoological Studies 53: 73.

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 roylei (Ogilby, 1839). 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.

Feng, Z.J. 1973. A new species of Ochotona (Ochotonidae, Mammalia) from Mount Jolmo-Iungma area. Acta Zoologica Sinica 19: 69-75.

Feng, Z.J., and Zheng, C.L. 1985. Studies on the pikas (genus Ochotona) of China taxonomic notes and distribution. Acta Theriologica Sinica 5: 269-289.

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.

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

Jiang, Z., Jiang, J., Wang, Y., Zhang, E., Zhang, Y., Li, L., Xie, F., Cai, B., Cao, L., Zheng, G., Dong, L., Zhang, Z., Ding, P., Luo, Z., Ding, C., Ma, Z., Tang, S., Cao, W., Li, C., Hu, H., Ma, Y., Wu, Y., Wang, Y., Zhou, K., Liu, S., Chen, Y., Li, J., Feng, Z., Wang, Y., Wang, B., Li, C., Song, X., Cai, L., Zang, C., Zeng, Y., Meng, Z., Fang, H. and Ping, X. 2016. Red List of China's Vertebrates (in Chinese and English). Biodiversity Science 24: 500-552.

Kawamichi, T. 1968. Winter behaviour of the Himalayan pika, Ochotona roylei. Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University Series VI Zoology : 582-594.

Kawamichi, T. 1971. Daily activities and social pattern of two Himalayan Pikas, Ochotona macrotis and O. roylei, Observed at Mt. Everest. Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University. Series VI Zoology 17: 587-609.

Khana, B. 2007. New Report on the Symbiotic Relation of Ochotona roylei (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae) and Scaly Breasted Wren Babbler (Pnoepyge albiventer) at Ganesh Himalaya Areas of Central Nepal. Our Nature 5: 37-40.

Mallon, D. 1991. Lagomorphs in Ladakh. Manchester, UK.

Mitchell, R.M. 1978. The Ochotona (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae) of Nepal. Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen 26: 208-214.

Mitchell, R.M. 1981. The Ochotona (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae) of Asia. In: D. Liu (ed.), Geological and Ecological Studies of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, pp. 1031-1038. Science Press, Beijing, China.

Molur, S., Srinivasulu, C., Srinivasulu, B., Walker, S., Nameer, P.O. and Ravikumar, L. 2005. Status of non-volant small mammals: Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P) workshop report. Zoo Outreach Organisation / CBSG-South Asia., Comibatore, India.

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.

Citation: Smith, A.T. and Bhattacharyya, S. 2016. Ochotona roylei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41268A45184591. . Downloaded on 23 May 2018.
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