ESR - Vol. 31 - FEATURE ARTICLE

Adult female European hamster Cricetus cricetus (photo by Holger Fuchs)

Surov A, Banaszek A, Bogomolov P, Feoktistova N, Monecke S

 

REVIEW: Dramatic global decrease in the range and reproduction rate of the European hamster Cricetus cricetus

In recent years, there has been a sharp and, as yet, unexplained decline in the abundance of numerous species. Although the European hamster Cricetus cricetus is the fastest declining Eurasian mammal, its IUCN status is still Least Concern. We show that, contrary to previous assumptions, this decline is not restricted to Western Europe but affects the entire range of the species, as far as eastern Russia. Our literature review provides evidence that one main reason for this is the continuous decline in the reproduction rate since ca. 1954, rather than an increased mortality rate. The extrapolation of data from 1765 to 2015 points to an extinction of the species between 2020 and 2038. The early start and the global nature of this decline decline indicate that global threats, such as climate change, which act on the species' physiology or genetics, are more likely to be the ultimate cause of this development than 'modern agriculture'.

 

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