Ochotona alpina 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Ochotonidae

Scientific Name: Ochotona alpina
Species Authority: (Pallas, 1773)
Common Name(s):
English Alpine Pika, Altai Pika
Taxonomic Notes: There are four recognized subspecies: Ochotona alpina alpina, O. a. changaica, O. a. cinereofusca, and O. a. sushkini (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). Ochotona hyperborea and O. argentata were formerly included in this species (Hoffmann and Smith 2005 ). This species is closely allied with O. pallasi (Smith and Xie 2008). Lissovsky et al. (2007) proposes that O. a. scorodumovi be acknowledged as a true species based on acoustic and morphology, as well as genetic divergence indicated by their molecular phylogenetic analysis. The authors note that, "the taxonomic composition and valid name for this species awaits a more thorough revision." O. a. scorodumovi may be conspecific with O. hyperborea mantchurica (another form thought to be a distinct species). Due to taxonomic prioritization, the form O. scorodumovi Skalon, 1935 would be recognized as O. mantchurica Thomas, 1909. This analysis also indicated that O. a. scorodumovi is more closely allied with O. hyperborea than with O. alpina (Lissovsky et al. 2007).

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 with no currently known population decline.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Octotona alpina occurs in the northern mountain ranges around the Gobi desert and in the regions east and south of Lake Baikal (Smith et al. 1990). This species also occurs in northwestern and northeastern China (Smith and Xie 2008). O. alpina occurs at elevation of 400-2,500 m in the Altai Mountains (Ognev 1966), in China, O. alpina occurs at elevations greater than 2,000 m (Smith and Xie 2008).
Countries occurrence:
China (Heilongjiang, Xinjiang); Kazakhstan; Mongolia; Russian Federation (Altay, Amur, Buryatiya, Chita, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tuva)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):400
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are few data regarding the current status of Ochotona alpina. A density decline occurred in the 1970's throughout the western region of the Sayan mountain range (Smith et al. 1990). This reduction was characterized as "catastrophic" and the causes are unclear (Smith et al. 1990). As of the late 1980's areas that once had high densities are now gone (Smith et al. 1990).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Ochotona alpina occupies rocky regions and talus piles (Smith et al. 1990). Because this is a rock-dwelling species it occupies naturally fragmented habitat, as talus piles are generally separated by terrain that pikas rarely traverse. It prefers talus sites where vegetation is present (Smith et al. 1990). This species is a generalized herbivore that collects foodstuffs to create haypiles (Smith and Xie 2008). This pika is considered an important factor in the health of the ecosystem, as it is prey for sables in the region (Khlebnikova 1978). It has been noted that pika haypiles have been utilized by several species during winter months (Smith et al. 1990). Siberian wapiti (Cervus elaphus sibiricus) and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) will eat from the haypiles during heavy snowfall (Smith et al. 1990). It has been reported that vegetation diversity and composition are largely influenced by the presence of this species (Khlebnikova 1978). It is primarily a diurnal species, but vocalizations can be heard at night (Ognev 1966). Reported mortality rates differ according to habitat type; 41% in alpine zones and 53% in forested areas (Smith et al. 1990). Longevity of O. alpina can be as high as six years, but is usually only three years in the northern extents of its range (Sokolov et al. 1994). O. alpina produces two litters per year, with an average of three young per litter (Smith and Xie 2008). Gestation is approximately 30 days and newborns are 5.8-6.0 cm in length (Sokolov et al. 1994). Total length is 15.2-23.5 cm (Smith and Xie 2008).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Predation was noted as a threat, for this species, when population numbers dropped in the 1970s (Smith et al. 1990). There are no known major threats at present.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Mongolia, approximately 12% of the species' distribution occurs in protected areas (Clark et al. 2006). 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).

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Ochotona alpina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41255A10424884. . Downloaded on 03 December 2016.
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