Senkaku Mole, Ryukyu Mole
(Mogera uchidai)
DD
Overview
The Senkaku mole was not described until 1991. Only one individual has ever been captured, and very little is known about its ecology. It has an extremely limited range, occurring only on a single 4.3 km² island. A pair of domestic goats was introduced to the island in 1978, and without natural predators the population increased rapidly. There are now probably in excess of 300 goats on the tiny island. The goats are destroying the native vegetation through grazing and trampling, and this damage to the fragile island ecosystem is likely to be having a negative effect on the rare mole.
Urgent Conservation Actions
An investigation into the present condition of the ecosystem on Uotsuri-jima Island, and removal of the goats to prevent any further damage. Further research into the status and ecology of the species.
Distribution
Uotsuri-jima Island, the largest of the Japanese Senkaku Islands, northeast of Taiwan.
Media from ARKive
ARKive image - Ryukyu mole holotype specimen, front view
ARKive image - Ryukyu mole holotype specimen, side view
ARKive image - Ryukyu mole head skeleton, ventral view of upper jaw
ARKive image - Ryukyu mole head skeleton, dorsal view of upper jaw
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Soricomorpha
Family: Talpidae
The mole family Talpidae comprises three subfamilies: the moles (Talpinae) and shrew moles (Uropsilinae), which are mostly fossorial (diggers), and the semi-aquatic desmans (Desmaninae). Fossil members of the Talpidae are known from the early Eocene in Europe (over 50 million years ago), the early Oligocene of North America (35 million years ago), and the late Miocene in Asia (10 million years ago). The Talpinae can be divided into two clades, separating Old World and New World genera. Nesoscaptor uchidai belongs to the Old World clade, along with the genera Talpa, Mogera, Parascaptor, Scaptochirus, Euroscaptor and Scaptonyx. It is generally regarded as being the only species in the genus Nesoscaptor. It is believed to be closely related to Mogera insularis from Taiwan; indeed, some researchers argue that these two moles are so similar that they should be placed in the same genus (Mogera).
Description
Size: 
Head and body length: 130 mm
Tail length: 12 mm
Weight: 43 g
This species is known only from the type specimen. The upper parts are dark greyish brown and the underparts are slightly paler.
Ecology
Very little is known about the ecology of this species.
Habitat
The type specimen was found in a cool montane forest.
Distribution
Endemic to Uotsuri-jima Island. At 4.3 km², this island is the largest of the Japanese Senkaku Islands, northeast of Taiwan.
Population Estimate
Unknown.
Status
Classified as Endangered (EN B1+2c) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Threats
The species has an extremely restricted range. A single pair of domestic goats were introduced to the island in 1978. Without natural predators, the population increased rapidly and there are now probably in excess of 300 goats on the tiny island. The goats are destroying the native vegetation through grazing and trampling. Although the Senkaku mole is probably fossorial, it is likely that damage to the fragile island ecosystem is having a negative effect on the species.
Conservation Underway
The ongoing dispute concerning the governmental territoriality of the Senkaku Islands among Japan, China and Taiwan makes it difficult for conservation work to be conducted in the area. A working group on the problem of goats on the island was established in 1998 by the Ecological Society of Japan. A member of this group explained the problem to the Environment Agency of Japan, but no conservation actions have been carried out to date.
Conservation Proposed
The governments of Japan, China and Taiwan need to cooperate to investigate the present condition of the ecosystem on Uotsuri-jima Island, and remove the goats to prevent any more damage. The 1990 IUCN/SSC Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews Action plan recommends that the status and ecology of the Senaku mole be investigated.
Links
Contact: yokohata@edu.toyama-u.ac.jp
References
Insectivore Specialist Group 1996. Nesoscaptor uchidai. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 09 August 2006.

Motokawa, Masaharu; Lin, Liang-Kong; Cheng, Hsi-Chi; Harada, Masashi. 2001. Taxonomic status of the Senkaku mole, Nesoscaptor uchidai, with special reference to variation in Mogera insularis from Taiwan (Mammalia: Insectivora). Zoological Science (Tokyo) 18(5): 733-740.

Nowak, R.M. (ed.). 1999. Walkers Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Stone, D. (Compiler). 1996. Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews: Status, Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switerzland.

Yokohata, Y. 1999. On the "Urgent appeal for the conservation of the natural environment in Uotsuri-jima Island in Senkaku Islands, Japan". Pp. 79-87. In Y. Yokohata and S. Nakamura (eds.). Recent advances in the biology of Japanese Insectivora . Proceedings of the Symposium on the biology of insectivores in Japan and on the wildlife conservation. 150pp.

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

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