Mammal Species of the World
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endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Southeastern U.S., southern Maryland to central Florida, west to northeastern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Louisiana (Taylor and Wilkinson 1988). Subpecies EIONIS: northern two-thirds of peninsular Florida. Subspecies FISHERI: vicinity of the historical Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina; possibly also coastal South Carolina (further study is needed). Subspecies LONGIROSTRIS: remainder of range. (Jones et al. 1991). Records from McHenry County, Illinois, and Giles County, Virginia, pertain to S. CINEREUS (French 1980). To 760 m in North Carolina.
Length: 11 cm
Weight: 4 grams
Size in North America
Range: 77-102 mm
Average: 3.3 g
Range: 2-5.8 g
Compared to S. CINEREUS, tail relatively shorter, upper and lower first incisors are relatively smaller, all teeth are more lightly pigmented, and the skull is smaller, shorter and the rostrum broader (French 1980); the relative size of the third and fourth unicupids does not always differentiate this species from S. CINEREUS (French 1980). Inner ridge of upper unicuspids lacks pigment; greatest width across the the outside of the first large molariform teeth usually is less than 2 times the distance from the posterior end of the palate to the anterior end of the first incisors (see French 1980).
Habitat and Ecology
Subspecies eionis occurs in cypress swamps, bay swamps, hydric hammocks, slash pine and longleaf pine flatwoods, palmetto thickets, longleaf pine sandhills, xeric hammocks, sand pine scrub, clear-cuts. Subspecies longirostris occurs in various lowland habitats, fields and forest edges in mountains, areas with heavy ground vegetation; in Virginia, it is common throughout the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, but uncommon in western highlands. Subspecies fisheri is most abundant in mesic successional habitats (Jones et al. 1991).
Young are born from April through October. The litter size is one to six (average around four), and there are one to three litters per year. Gestation probably lasts two to three weeks (if same as other shrews). Little is known about this species' life cycle. Southeastern shrews eats small invertebrates, particularly spiders, caterpillars, slugs and snails, crickets, beetles, and centipedes; also some vegetative material (see French 1980). The most commonly reported predators include barred and barn owls and domestic cats. Mostly nocturnal; however, also active throughout the day.
Comments: Various habitats ranging from bogs and damp woods to upland shrubby or wooded areas; apparently prefers moist to wet areas, usually bordering swamps, marshes, or rivers, and most often associated with heavy ground cover (French 1980). Generally resides underground or under ground cover. Might respond favorably to disturbances that allow dense ground cover to thrive (Pagels et al. 1982).
Subspecies EIONIS: cypress swamps, bay swamps, hydric hammocks, slash pine and longleaf pine flatwoods, palmetto thickets, longleaf pine sandhills, xeric hammocks, sand pine scrub, clear-cuts. Subspecies LONGIROSTRIS: various lowland habitats, fields and forest edges in mountains, areas with heavy ground vegetation; in Virginia, common throughout the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, uncommon in western highlands. Subspecies FISHERI: most abundant in mesic successional habitats (Jones et al. 1991).
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Comments: Eats small invertebrates, particularly spiders, caterpillars, slugs and snails, crickets, beetles, and centipedes; also some vegetative material (see French 1980).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Snap traps significantly underestimate the true abundance and density. Pitfalls have been found to better reflect population levels (Rose 1980). In Alabama, density was estimated at 30/ha and 44/ha on two plots; usually not more than 10 have been captured in the same locality (French 1980). The most commonly reported predators include barred and barn owls and domestic cats.
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Mostly nocturnal; however, active throughout the day.
Young are born from April through October. Litter size is 1-6 (average around 4); 1-3 litters per year. Gestation probably lasts 2-3 weeks (if same as other shrews). Little is known about this species' life cycle.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in southeastern North America and present in a wide variety of habitats.
Degree of Threat: D : Unthreatened throughout its range, communities may be threatened in minor portions of the range or degree of variation falls within natural variation
- Hutterer, R. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 290–291. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Hammerson, G. (2008). "Sorex longirostris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
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Names and Taxonomy
Comments: An analysis of skull, dental, and external measurements by Jones et al. (1991) confirmed the differences among the three subspecies (longirostris, eionis, and fisheri). Zones of intergradation between adjacent subspecies have not been well defined. Junge and Hoffman (1981) suggested that fisheri may be a distinct species, but most authors continue to treat fisheri as a subspecies of longirostris (Jones et al. 1992; Hutterer, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).
Demboski and Cook (2003) used DNA sequence data to examine phylogenetic relationships among 8 members of the Sorex cinereus group (S. camtschatica, S. cinereus, S. haydeni, S. jacksoni, S. portenkoi, S. preblei, S. pribilofensis, and S. ugyunak) and S. longirostris. Phylogenetic analyses recovered 2 major clades within the species group: a northern clade that includes the Beringian species (S. camtschatica, S. jacksoni, S. portenkoi, S. pribilofensis, and S. ugyunak), S. haydeni, and S. preblei and a southern clade that includes S. cinereus and S. longirostris. Mitochondrial DNA clades generally corresponded to previously identified morphological groups with 2 exceptions: inclusion of S. longirostris with S. cinereus in the southern clade and inclusion of S. preblei within the northern clade.
See George (1988) for an electrophoretic study of systematic relationships among Sorex species.