Ochotona rufescens 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Ochotonidae

Scientific Name: Ochotona rufescens (Gray, 1842)
Common Name(s):
English Afghan Pika, Collared Pika, Rufescent Pika
Taxonomic Notes: Subgenus Conothoa. There are four recognized subspecies: Ochotona rufescens rufescens (includes seiana, vulturine; east Afghanistan), O. r. regina (Kopet Dagh Mountains between Turkmenistan and Iran), O. p. vizier (Khorud Range, Iran) and O. r. shukurovi (southwest Turkmenistan in the Greater Balkhans). Some earlier accounts included seiana in O. curzoniae, but they are clearly independent.

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. & Johnston, C.
Reviewer(s): Battistoni, A.
Contributor(s): Boyer, A.F.
Ochotona rufescens is a widespread species that does not appear to be experiencing a significant decline. It is therefore listed Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ochotona rufescens is a widespread species that occurs in the mountains of southwestern Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran (Smith et al. 1990).

O. rufescens is found between 1,900 and 3,500 m in elevation (Chakraborty et al. 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Pakistan; Turkmenistan
Additional data:
Number of Locations:6
Lower elevation limit (metres):900
Upper elevation limit (metres):3600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:A population found on the Small Balkan Ridge may be endangered due to isolation, but it is unclear whether this population is the subspecies shukurovi or regina (Smith et al. 1990). The subspecies O. r. shukurovi is found in the Great Balkhan Mountains and is isolated but does not appear to be threatened (Smith et al. 1990).

Population density of O. rufescens may reach 70 individuals per hectare, but this is variable depending on weather conditions (Smith et al. 1990).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Ochotona rufescens is most commonly found in rocky desert habitat, but may create burrow systems in fields where no stones exist. O. rufescens also burrows in adobe houses and walls (Smith et al. 1990). The species may be found in juniper forests and prefers habitats with vegetation cover between 30% and 60%, not higher (Smith et al. 1990).

O. rufescens survives on a diet of native xeric plants, such as thistles, Ephedra and Artemisia, creating haypiles to store vegetation twice in each year (Smith et al. 1990). O. rufescens also consumes agricultural crops, making it a pest to humans in some areas (Smith et al. 1990).

The reproductive rate of O. rufescens is high, with litter size averaging from 5.2 to 7.1, producing as many as five litters annually. The breeding season is long, from mid-March to late September, and young individuals begin breeding in their first summer (Smith et al. 1990).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Because Ochotona rufescens is considered a pest in some areas where it damages agricultural crops, it has been subject to control (Smith et al. 1990). The spread of agriculture also constitutes a threat, as habitat is converted to farmland, after which the pikas feed on crops, particularly by debarking trees in orchards (Smith et al. 1990).

A population of O. rufescens on the Small Balkan Ridge may be endangered due to isolation. It is also unclear to which subspecies this population belongs, as it is found between populations of O. r. shukrovi and O. r. regina (Smith et al. 1990).

O. rufescens is the only pika that has been domesticated for laboratory research, where it was once used in France and Japan, though this is probably not a future threat to wild populations (Smith et al. 1990).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No conservation measures are currently in place for Ochotona rufescens.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

Bibliography [top]

Blanford, W.T. 1888. The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Taylor and Francis, London, UK.

Čermák, S., Obuch, J. and Benda, P. 2006. Notes on the genus Ochotona in the Middle East (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae). Lynx 37: 51-66.

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 rufescens (Gray, 1842). 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.

Fulk, G.W. and Khokhar, A.R. 1980. Observations on the natural history of a pika (Ochotona rufescens) from Pakistan. Mammalia 44: 51-58.

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

Hassinger, J.D. 1973. A survey of the Mammals of Afghanistan resulting from the 1965 Street Expedition (excluding bats). Fieldiana Zoology 60: 1-195.

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.

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

Khalilipour, O., Rezaei, H.R., Shabani, A.A., Kaboli, M. and Ashrafi, S. 2014. Genetic structure and differentiation of four populations of Afghan pika (Ochotona rufescens) in Iran based on mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Zoology in the Middle East 60: 288-298.

Lay, D.M. 1967. A study of the mammals of Iran, resulting from the Street Expedition of 1962-63. Fieldiana Zoology 54: 1-282.

Lissovsky, A.A. 2014. Taxonomic revision of pikas Ochotona (Lagomorpha, Mammalia) at the species level. Mammalia 78(2): 199–216.

Ognev, S. I. 1966. Mammals of the U.S.S.R. and Adjacent Countries. Mammals of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.

Roberts, T.J. 1997. The mammals of Pakistan. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Saprageldyev, M. 1987. Ecology of the Afghan Pika in Turkmenistan. Ylym: Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan. [In Russian].

Shafi, M.M., Rizvi, S.W.A., Pervez, A., Ali, R. and Shah, S.Z. 1992. Some observations on the reproductive biology of collard pika Ochotona rufescens Gray, 1942 from Ziarat Velley, Baluchistan, Pakistan. Acta Theriologica 37: 423-427.

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., Ivanitskaya, E.Y., Gruzdev, V.V., Heptner, V.G., Hoffmann, R.S. and Smith, A.T. 2009. Lagomorphs: mammals of Russia and adjacent regions. English translation . Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Washington, DC.

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C. 2016. Ochotona rufescens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41269A45184750. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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