Ochotona curzoniae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Ochotonidae

Scientific Name: Ochotona curzoniae (Hodgson, 1858)
Common Name(s):
English Plateau Pika, Black-lipped Pika
Ochotona melanostoma (Büchner, 1890)
Taxonomic Notes: This species is within subgenus Ochotona. There are no recognized subspecies Ochotona curzoniae. This species was formerly included by some treatments in O. dauurica. The form melanostoma is a synonym of this species (Smith et al. 1990). Ochotona curzoniae is possibly sister taxa to O. nubrica (Lissovsky 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-07-07
Assessor(s): Smith, A.T. and Liu, S.
Reviewer(s): Battistoni, A.
Contributor(s): Johnston, C.
Listed as Least Concern. This is a widespread species that occurs in protected areas, but the current status of Chinese populations is declining due to aggressive poisoning campaigns designed to eradicate the species.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ochotona curzoniae can be found throughout the Tibetan Plateau. The geographic distribution extends through northern Nepal and Sikkim, India, north into Xizang, and the western regions of Sichuan, Qinghai and the southern regions of Xinjiang, and Gansu. It occurs at elevations of 3,000-5,000 m.
Countries occurrence:
China (Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet [or Xizang], Xinjiang); India (Sikkim); Nepal
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Lower elevation limit (metres):3000
Upper elevation limit (metres):5000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are no data regarding the overall current status of Ochotona curzoniae populations. It is inferred that declines have resulted during widespread poisoning of pikas throughout its range to control population sizes (Smith et al. 1990, Delibes-Mateos et al. 2011, Wilson and Smith 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Ochotona curzoniae is a burrow-dwelling species of pika. This species occurs in "high alpine desert, steppe and meadows" (Smith et al. 1990). Competition of habitat results in the exclusion of O. cansus in areas where it and O. curzoniae are sympatric. O. curzoniae is exclusively an herbivore. This species of pika is considered a highly social animal (Smith and Wang `991, Dobson et al. 1998, 2000). It is predominantly a diurnal species. Average home range for O. curzoniae is 1,375 ± 206 square meters (Smith and Wang 1991). Densities drop during winter to yearly lows in the spring, but increase during the summer to approximately 380/ha (Smith et al. 1990). The breeding season for this species extends from April, possibly into late August (Smith et al. 1990). O. curzoniae has three to five litters per year with two to eight young per litter. Young become reproductively active the summer of their birth (Smith and Wang 1991). Generation length is estimated to be 1.2 years for O. curzoniae. Total length is 14.0-19.2 cm.

Ochotona curzoniae is a keystone species of the Tibetan plateau. It is speculated that O. curzoniae contributes to the overall health of alpine meadows by aerating the soil via their burrowing activities (Smith and Foggin 1999). A recent study demonstrated that greater plant species diversity is associated with small-burrowing mammals (O. curzoniae and Alticola stoliczkanus) of the Trans-Himalayan plateau (Bagchi et al. 2006). It is also an important component of the prey base for many carnivores within their geographic range (Lai and Smith 2003, Delibes-Mateos et al. 2011). Burrows constructed by O. curzoniae serve as homes for lizards and small birds on the Tibetan plateau (Smith and Foggin 1999).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ochotona curzoniae is the target of mass control in an effort to eliminate competition for vegetation with livestock (Smith et al. 1990, Smith and Foggin 1999, Delibes-Mateos et al. 2011, Smith and Wilson 2015).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is known to be present in Annapurna CP in western Nepal, Zhumulangmafeng, Qiangtang, Kekexili, Sanjiangyuan, and Aerjinshan Nature Reserves of China. O. curzoniae is a keystone species of the Tibetan plateau, one whose decline as a result of poisoning negatively impacts species richness and abundance (Smith and Foggin 1999, Delibes-Mateos et al. 2011, Smith and Wilson 2015). Therefore, current efforts to exterminate this species in China should be curtailed. In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
8. Desert -> 8.3. Desert - Cold

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
  Area based regional management plan:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ 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 ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%)   
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends

Bibliography [top]

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Bagchi, S., Namgail, T. and Ritchie, M. E. 2006. Small mammalian herbivores as mediators of plant community dynamics in the high-altitude arid rangelands of Tans-Himalaya. Biological Conservation 127: 438-442.

Ci, H.X., Lin, G.H., Cai, Z.Y., Tang, L.Z., Su, J.P. and Liu, J.Q. 2009. Population history of the plateau pika endemic to the Qinghai‐Tibetan Plateau based on mtDNA sequence data. Journal of Zoology 279: 396-403.

Delibes-Mateos, M., Smith, A.T., Slobodchikoff, C.N. and Swenson, J.E. 2011. The paradox of keystone species persecuted as pests: a call for the conservation of abundant small mammals in their native range. Biological Conservation 144: 1335-1346.

Dobson, F S., Smith, A.T. and Gao, W.X. 1998. Social and ecological influences on dispersal and philopatry in the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae). Behavioral Ecology 9(6): 622-635.

Dobson, F.S., Smith, A.T. and Wang, X.G. 2000. The mating system and gene dynamics of plateau pikas. Behavioural Processes 51: 101-110.

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Lai, C. H. and Smith, A. T. 2003. Keystone status of plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae): effect of control on biodiversity of native birds. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 1901-1912.

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

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Xie, L., Zhang, X., Qi, D., Guo, X., Pang, B., Du, Y. ... and Zhao, X. 2014. Inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase and nitric oxide production in plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) at high altitude on Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Nitric Oxide-Biology and Chemistry 38: 38-44.

Yang, J., Bromage, T. G., Zhao, Q., Xu, B.H., Gao, W.L., Tian, H.F. ... and Zhao, X. Q. 2011. Functional evolution of leptin of Ochotona curzoniae in adaptive thermogenesis driven by cold environmental stress. PLoS ONE 6: e19833.

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Citation: Smith, A.T. and Liu, S. 2016. Ochotona curzoniae. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41258A45182665. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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