Alces alces 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Alces alces
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Moose, Eurasian Elk, Elk, European Elk, Eurasian Moose, Siberian Elk
French Élan
Spanish Alce
Taxonomic Notes: In recognizing Eurasian Elk (Alces alces) and Moose (Alces americanus) as distinct species, Grubb (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) cited sources that documented differences in karyotype, body dimensions and proportions, form of premaxilla, coloration, and structure and dimensions of antlers (Geist 1998, Boyeskorov 1999). There is a broad zone of hybridization between the two forms in central Siberia and northern Outer Mongolia (Geist 1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Henttonen, H., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Tikhonov A.
Reviewer(s): Black, P., González, S. (Deer Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This specie is listed as Least Concern as the species is still very widespread and extremely abundant despite fairly intense hunting pressures in parts of its range. It is expanding its range in places and is tolerant of secondary habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Eurasian elk has a range in north Eurasia from Scandinavia, Poland, N Austria, and S Czech Republic (vagrant in Croatia, Hungary, and Romania), east to the Yenisei River (Siberia) and south to Ukraine, N Kazakhstan, N China (N Sinkiang), and possibly adjacent parts of Mongolia (Wilson and Reeder 2005). It has been extinct in Caucasus region since 19th century (Wilson and Reeder 2005).

In Europe, it has a continuous distribution extending through Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Baltic states, Belarus, Poland and northern Ukraine. There was a small population in northern Austria which is now extinct (although there may still be occasional migrants). There are three isolated subpopulations in southern Czech Republic, and the species is occasionally recorded in Germany, Croatia, Hungary and Romania. It has been extending its range southwards along the rivers into the northern Caucasus lowlands. It ranges from sea level up to at least 1,500 m in Europe (H. Henttonen pers. comm. 2006), and up to 2,500 m in the Altai mountains of Central Asia (Nygrén 1986). The species occurs east to the Yenisei River (Siberia) and south to Ukraine, N Kazakhstan, N China (N Sinkiang and the Altai region of Xinjiang,and possibly adjacent parts of Mongolia; it is extinct in Caucasus region since 19th century.
Countries occurrence:
Belarus; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Moldova; Mongolia; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Slovakia; Sweden; Ukraine
Regionally extinct:
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2500
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is a widespread and abundant species. Numbers have increased markedy in Scandinavia in recent decades, and the range is expanding in the Caucasus. The global population is in the region of 1.5 million individuals, and the European population is in the order of 0.5 million. European populations show fluctuations over a multi-year cycle (Bauer and Nygrén 1999). Population estimates for European countries include the following: Czech Republic - maximum of 50 animals, Estonia - 10,000 individuals, Finland - at least 110,000 individuals (60-80,000 shot annually), Poland - 2,800 individuals, Sweden - 340,000 individuals (Pielowski and Jaworski 2005, Ruusila and Kojola in press).
Current Population Trend: Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 500000
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Alces alces is found in a range of woodland habitats, both coniferous and broadleaved, from the tundra and taiga southwards through boreal to temperate zones. It tends to prefer damp, marshy habitats and areas in close proximity to water. It is also found in open country in the lowlands and mountains, including farmland, if there is forest nearby. It thrives in secondary growth, and its population expansion in Scandinavia has been linked to the replacement of natural taiga forest by secondary woodland after logging (Bauer and Nygrén 1999). It feeds on vegetative parts of trees, shrubs, dwarf shrubs, herbs, and aquatic plants, and is a pest of agriculture and forestry in at least parts of its range (Ruusila and Kojola in press). The species has seasonal movements in parts of its range, particularly in northern Europe.
Systems: Terrestrial
Movement patterns: Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species at present. A wasting disease has been reported, and its causes remain poorly understood (Frank 2004), but it is not considered to be a serious problem for the species. Overexploitation caused significant population declines and range contractions in the 18th and 19th centuries, but since then populations have recovered (Ruusila and Kojola in press, Bauer and Nygrén 1999). In most European range states, elk populations are controlled to prevent damage to forestry and arable crops (Bauer and Nygrén 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention. It occurs in a large number of protected areas across its range (Wemmer 1998, EMA Workshop 2006). The species is subject to intense management in some countries through hunting quotas (e.g. in Finland: Ruusila and Kojola in press). It is protected under national legislation in a number of countries (e.g. Germany).

Citation: Henttonen, H., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Tikhonov A. 2008. Alces alces. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41782A10539389. . Downloaded on 28 June 2016.
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