Mediterranean Mammals

320 mammal species endemic to the Mediterranean region have been assessed to provide the first regional overview of their conservation status, including all native terrestrial mammals in addition to one marine and coastal species, the Mediterranean Monk Seal.

Results

One in six (16.5%) Mediterranean mammals included in this Red List report are threatened with extinction at the regional scale, with a further 8% assessed as Near Threatened. Out of the 49 threatened species, 20 are unique to the region and occur nowhere else in the world. One mammal species, the Sardinian Pika (Prolagus sardus), has become globally extinct since 1500 A.D. and a further seven species, including the Lion Panthera leo and Tiger Panthera tigris have been extirpated from the Mediterranean region.

Overall, more than one-quarter (27%) of Mediterranean mammals have declining populations, 31% are stable, and for 40%, the population trend is unknown. Only 3% of these species populations are increasing, often due to conservation action, according to the study.

IUCN Med, Mediterranean, mammals

Species richness

Terrestrial mammal biodiversity is higher in mountainous parts of the region, with particularly high concentrations of threatened species found in the mountains of Turkey, the Levant, and north-west Africa. The Maghreb holds a large number of endemic species, which are unique to the Mediterranean and found nowhere else in the world.

IUCN Med, Mediterranean, mammals

Main Threats

The main threat to Mediterranean mammals is the destruction and degradation of their habitat, caused by a variety of factors including agricultural intensification, urbanization, pollution and climate change.

Human disturbance, overexploitation and invasive species are also major threats. Agriculture affects 65% of threatened mammals, hunting and trapping 60%, and invasive species 50%.

Conservation recommendations

Threatened mammals in the Mediterranean are in need of conservation measures such as legislation, monitoring, research, management of populations, restoration of the balance between prey/predator populations, habitat conservation and restoration, land acquisition and management, and even captive breeding and benign introductions. In addition, conservation action needs to focus not only on species but also on habitat sites in the wider landscape.

The European mink (Mustela lutreola). Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean.

The European mink (Mustela lutreola). Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean.

Photo: Tit Maran