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SPECIES Arvicola amphibius

Author:Linnaeus, 1758.
Citation:Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1: 61.
Common Name:Eurasian Water Vole
Type Locality:England.
Distribution:Europe (excluding C and S Spain but including N Spain and N Portugal) east through Siberia to Lena River Basin (Yakutskaya); from Arctic Sea south to Lake Baikal and N Tien Shan Mtns of NW China (Xinjiang) through NW Iran, Iraq, N Israel, Caucasus, and Turkey (Harrison and Bates, 1991; Lay, 1967); also in Great Britain except Ireland (Corbet, 1978c).
Status:IUCN – Lower Risk (lc) as A. terrestris.

Linnaeus’ amphibius and terrestris, both proposed in 1758 on the same page, are now considered conspecific by most researchers, but which name should be properly used is unsettled. Corbet (1978c:105) noted that "amphibius should have priority (presumably following Blasius (1857) as first reviser). Although strictly correct this is contrary to long-established usage and would cause considerable confusion and ambiguity" (also see discussion in Corbet et al., 1970:315). The usage is not so long established since the two forms were considered separate species through the middle 1900s (Ellerman, 1941; Hinton, 1926a; Miller, 1910, 1912a), and in the first work that considered them as conspecific, Blasius (1857) placed terrestris as a subjective synonym of A. amphibius. The reminder of Blasius’ role as first revisor dates from Van den Brink (1967), who employed A. amphibius as the valid name as have other systematists (e.g., Panteleyev, 2000; Zagorodnyuk, 1992c, 2000). In our view, confusion and ambiguity will be lessened only by using the name combination that is acknowledged as "strictly correct," A. amphibius.

The larger issue involves the homogeneity of populations arranged here under one nominal species. The exceptionally robust water voles in the English Isles (amphibius) have been maintained as specifically distinct from populations on the European continent (terrestris) (Hinton, 1926a; Miller, 1910, 1912a). The status of italicus also deserves critical review: e.g., Miller (1912a) had considered it a species, and Taberlet et al. (1998), using phylogeographic analyses of cytochrome b, found that samples from N Italy (italicus) are more genetically divergent than terrestris (here = A. amphibius) is from scherman. Denser geographic sampling and more critical analyses of morphologies and molecules are warranted.

European populations are generally reviewed by Reichstein (1982b) and Mitchell-Jones et al. (1999), and those of Russia and adjacent territories by Gromov and Erbajeva (1995). Faunal studies and checklists have proliferated to augment regional knowledge of the water vole’s morphology, distribution, and biology: Scotland (Stewart et al., 1999); Portugal (Ramalhinho and Mathias, 1988); N Spain (Ventura, 1992, 1993a, b, 1993-1994; Ventura and Gosalbez, 1989, 1992b; Castien and Gosalbez, 1992); Italy (Amori et al., 1999; Cantini, 1991); Switzerland (Hausser, 1995); N Germany (Dolch et al., 1994); Netherlands (Pelzers, 1992); E Baltic region (Miljutin, 1997, 1998; Timm et al., 1998); Sumava Mtns region, SW Bohemia (Andĕra and Červený, 1994); Slovenia (Kryštufek, 1991); Slovakia (Danko, 1994; Mošanský, 1994; Stanko, 1995; Stanko and Mošanský, 1994, 2000; Stanko et al., 2000); Czech Republic (Šmaha, 1996); greater Serbia and Montenegro (Petrov, 1992); N Israel (Qumsiyeh, 1996); Iran, Iraq, and nearby regions (Harrison and Bates, 1991); and China (Zhang et al., 1997).

Taxonomic and distributional studies have broadly covered morphological variability (Kratochvíl, 1980, 1983; Nikolaeva, 1982; Ventura, 1991). Morphometric analyses document variation along altitudinal transects and within geographic regions (Kratochvíl, 1981b, 1983), and taxonomically illuminate variation among samples from the Iberian Peninsula and C Europe (Ventura and Gosálbez, 1989) and that in Traika Depression of Bulgaria (Mitev and Miteva, 1991). Ventura and Sans-Fuentes (1997) documented geographic variation in non-metric trait frequencies in SW Europe. Molar patterns have been studied in several contexts: dental ontogeny and its significance for interpreting relationships of fossil and living species (Kratochvíl, 1980); concordance with subspecies recognized in the Pyrenees and Iberian region (Ventura, 1991); and correlation with geography, age, and diet (Nikolaeva, 1982). Ventura et al. (1993) described abdominal arterial configuration of Spanish water voles and compared it with other muroids. Variation in cranial size and shape in relation to fluctuations in population density and environment explored by Galaktionov (1995) and Kovaleva et al. (1996). Corbet et al. (1970) morphometrically demonstrated that only one kind of Arvicola occurs in the British Isles and considered it to be conspecific with continental populations (terrestris).

Several fossil species have been described from the middle to late Pleistocene (abbotti, antiquus, bactonensis, cantiana, chosaricus, gracilis, greenii, hunasensis, kalmankensis, praeceptor) and have been treated as extinct subspecies (Hutterer and Koenigswald, 1993; Kolfschoten, 1990; see review in Zagorodnyuk, 2000; see Maul et al., 2000, for a different view). Kratochvíl (1980, 1981b) regarded the Pleistocene cantiana to be merely part of the chronocline of A. amphibius. European Pleistocene records are provided by Kowalski (2001).

Although Neolithic samples document the presence of Arvicola on Sicily 3000-4000 years ago, none was uncovered in an exhaustive survey of barn owl pellets, leading Catalisano and Sarŕ (1995) to conclude its recent extinction.

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    abbotti Hinton, 1910
    abrukensis Reinwaldt, 1927
    americana Gray, 1842
    antiquus Pomel, 1853
    aquaticus (Cuvier, 1817)
    aquaticus (Billberg, 1827)
    argyropus Cabrera, 1901
    armenius (Thomas, 1907)
    ater (Billberg, 1827)
    ater Macgillivray, 1832
    bactonensis Hinton, 1926
    barabensis (Heptner, 1948)
    brigantium Thomas, 1928
    cantiana Hinton, 1910
    caucasicus Ognev, 1933
    cernjavskii Petrov, 1949
    chosaricus Alexandrova, 1976
    cubanensis Ognev, 1933
    destructor Savi, 1839
    djukovi Ognev and Formosov, 1927
    ferrugineus Ognev, 1933
    fuliginosus de Sélys Longchamps, 1845
    gracilis Heller, 1955
    greenii Hinton, 1926
    hintoni Aharoni, 1932
    hunasensis Carls, 1986
    hyperryphaeus (Heptner, 1948)
    illyricus (Barrett-Hamilton, 1899)
    italicus Savi, 1839
    jacutensis Ognev, 1933
    jenissijensis Ognev, 1933
    kalmankensis Zažigin, 1980
    karatshaicus (Heptner, 1948)
    korabensis Martino, 1937
    kuruschi Heptner and Formosov, 1928
    kuznetzovi Ognev, 1933
    littoralis (Billberg, 1827)
    martinoi Petrov, 1949
    moenana Heller, 1969
    meridionalis Ognev, 1922
    minor de Sélys Longchamps, 1845
    musignani de Sélys Longchamps, 1839
    nigricans de Sélys Longchamps, 1845
    obensis Egorin, 1939
    ognevi Turov, 1926
    pallasi Ognev, 1913
    pallasi Ognev, 1913
    paludosus (Linneaus, 1771)
    persicus de Filippi, 1865
    pertinax Savi, 1839
    praeceptor Hinton, 1926
    reta Miller, 1910
    rufescens (Satunin, 1908)
    scythicus Thomas, 1914
    stankovici Petrov, 1949
    tanaitica Kalabuchov and Raevsky, 1930
    tataricus Ognev, 1933
    taurica Ognev, 1923
    terrestris (Linnaeus, 1758)
    turovi Ognev, 1933
    uralensis Egorin, 1940
    variabilis Ognev, 1933
    volgensis Ognev, 1933
    weinheimensis Heller, 1952

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