Mysterious Balkan Snow Vole
06 August 2013 | Article
As a poorly known species endemic to the Western Balkans, the Balkan Snow Vole (Dinaromys bogdanovi) is in the focus of a continuous research and educational activities of the Association BIOM. Its goal is to better understand the Balkan Snow Vole biology in order to evaluate its current conservation status in Croatia and propose adequate conservation measures.
This species may be declining in parts of its range as a result of competition with the European snow vole. Within a project initiated in 2010 with the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb and Zagreb ZOO, BIOM has been working on the conservation of the karst biodiversity through the research of this rare species. Due to the large knowledge gaps the Balkan Snow Vole has a Data Deficient (DD) status in the Red Book of Croatian Mammals, while globally the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ lists it as Vulnerable (VU).
Captivity research in Zagreb ZOO and extensive field visits provided more knowledge on the ecology and distribution of the Balkan Snow Vole, which is a prerequisite for effective conservation action. The project included educational presentations and panels for students in Zagreb and Split, hikers and local communities that increased their awareness on conservation concerns and promoted biodiversity of the Croatian karst.
Field examination of the Croatian karst revealed a whole biocenosis of specialised rock-dwelling species in the same habitat. They are relict, range-restricted and have fragmented populations, for example the Dalmatian Wall Lizard (Dalmatolacerta oxycephala), Mosor Rock Lizard (Dinarolacerta mosorensis) and isolated subspecies of the Garden Dormouse (Eliomys quercinus ssp. dalmaticus).
Ongoing and fast habitat fragmentation in the Balkan Snow Vole core area highly increases the probability of its local extinctions. This fragmentation follows the fast infrastructure growth that needs to be mitigated by the appropriate environmental conservation actions. Without them, local extinctions and additional fragmentation of this species range (and possibly other ecologically similar species) will most probably occur in the next several years.
Following Croatia’s accession some of the important nature conservation documents have changed. The annexes of the Habitats directive (Directive 92/43/EEC) were amended to add new species and habitats, amongst which is the Balkan Snow Vole.