European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 185–193 | Cite as

New insights into social and space use behaviour of the endangered Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus)

  • Yolanda Melero
  • Pere Aymerich
  • Juan Jose Luque-Larena
  • Joaquim Gosàlbez
Original Paper


We describe novel aspects of the social organisation of the Pyrenean desman, Galemys pyrenaicus, by studying home range and shelter use behaviour in a local population. A total of 45 individuals were trapped of which 20 provided informative radiotracking data. In contrast to the currently accepted hypothesis [Stone RD. The social organization of the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) as revealed by radiotelemetry. J Zool 212:117–129; 1987b; Stone RD, Gorman ML. Social organization of the European mole (Talpa europaea) and the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus). Mammal Rev 15 (1):35–42; 1985] individuals were not strictly territorial. Notably, there was no aggression between conspecifics, with simultaneous use of resting sites (shelters used for more than one hour). Resting sites were not permanent or exclusive for any individual. Individuals shared resting sites simultaneously, regardless of sex or age. Our observations recall for a new evaluation of the social structure and organisation of this species based on the new evidence that reveals higher frequency of social interactions than previously described. Resting sites may play an important role in the social organisation of the species, for instance by allowing direct and indirect communicative interactions among neighbouring individuals. This finding is of significance for the management (e.g. census and population monitoring) and conservation (e.g. habitat suitability to allow social interactions) of this endemic and seriously threatened unique mammal.


Galemys pyrenaicus Pyrenean desman Social organisation Resting site Shelter use 



The authors are grateful to the accredited veterinary Francisco Mañas for his collaboration during the trapping campaigns. We also thank the Official Consultant from the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. The project was funded by the Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge and the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (programme no. BOS2003-08823-CO3-01). We thank the anonymous reviewer for the useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yolanda Melero
    • 1
  • Pere Aymerich
    • 1
  • Juan Jose Luque-Larena
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joaquim Gosàlbez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates)University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Depto. CC Agroforestales, E.T.S. Ingenierías AgrariasUniversity of ValladolidPalenciaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Gestión Forestal SostenibleMadridSpain

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