Microtus (Chionomys) nivalis (Martins 1842) Snow Vole
Hebrew name: נברן שלג, navran sheleg
Family: Cricetidae: Microtinae
Global Threat: NT – Near Threatened
Regional Threat: CR (B) – Critically Endangered
Distribution area: On Mt. Hermon at altitudes above 1500 m. The Mt. Hermon population is at the southernmost limit of the species distribution .
Historic distribution: Tristram (1888) reported that the snow vole was found on Mt. Hermon (in Harrison & Bates 1991). Harrison & Bates (1991) reported the species from the Lebanese mountains, in the altitude range between 1150-2700 m., in rocky landscapes above the tree line, in the 1960s. They described the Lebanese population as sparse, even in suitable habitats.
Typical Habitat: Rocky slopes or rocky doline slopes.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Habitat destruction by civilian (ski slopes) and military (buildings, roads, fortifications) heavy mechanical equipment.
2. Predator population growth – beech martens and feral cats – as a result of increased food availability from army bases and ski site trash.
Population Size: The species ranges over a 15-km2 area. It is difficult to estimate the population size, but its density is very low relative to that of the social vole.
Fluctuations in Population Size: Unknown.
Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Protection and enforcement in the Mt. Hermon Nature Reserve: preventing road-breaking and constructing unnecessary fortifications and buildings.
2. Preventing trash dispersal in the area (open dumps) that encourages the growth of the predator population.