Video by @joelsartore | The Amargosa vole is one of the most endangered vertebrates in North America, found in the wild only near a single town in the Mojave Desert. The species has highly specific marsh habitat requirements and has faced diminished habitat quality and reduced water availability associated with water use and climate change. At one point, the total population size was thought to be less than 200 Amargosa voles in the world, and now they are estimated at about 500-- 100 of which are in a breeding colony at the @UCDavisVetMed school.
In the wild, these voles typically only live 3-4 months because they succumb to predation, but in the colony, some voles have lived more than 2 years. The ad hoc Amargosa vole team with membership and support from CDFW, @mypubliclands, and @usfws rears this species in captivity to learn more about them, provide an insurance colony against extinction in the wild, and to serve as a source for reintroduction.
In September, 2017, a lightning strike initiated a fire that wiped out two marshes and the voles within them. Although other nearby marshes still support voles, this incident highlights how precarious their situation is in nature.
Check out @joelsartore for a portrait of one of these adorable voles.
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