The Vancouver Island Water Shrew, Sorex palustris brooksi, an endemic subspecies restricted to Vancouver Island, B.C., differs from other shrews on the island in its semi-aquatic lifestyle, larger size, different colouration, and fringe of stiff hairs on its hind feet used to aid swimming. Initially thought to be widely distributed, the current known distribution is limited to low-elevation areas primarily along the east and south coast of Vancouver Island (this may reflect sampling effort). S.p. brooksi is a habitat specialist that lives at the land/water interface in riparian habitat. As long as intact riparian habitat and water is available, the age of the surrounding forest does not appear important, although no shrews have been found in clearcuts. No studies have been conducted to identify population trends, biology, or movements of individuals. Information on the biology of this subspecies is provided from Sorex palustris since specific information on S.p. brooksi is lacking - the biology of S.p. brooksi may vary. S.p. brooksi likely feeds extensively on aquatic macroinvertebrates and terrestrial invertebrates close to the water?s edge. Because these shrews are habitat specialists, populations are likely declining as suitable riparian habitat is modified, fragmented, or degraded. Major threats to riparian habitat on Vancouver Island include forest practices (harvesting and road building near streams), urbanization, and industrialization. In 2003, S.p. brooksi was red-listed in B.C. and included in the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy. Global population of Sorex palustris was classified as secure (G5); however S.p. brooksi was classified as ?Imperilled? at the global (G5T2), national (N2), and provincial (S2) level. This status report recommends that the Red List status of S.p. brooksi be maintained.
Craig, V.J.. 2004. The Status of the Vancouver Island Water Shrew (Sorex palustris brooksi) in British Columbia. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Wildlife Bulletin. b114
Topic: Species Status
Keywords: conservation, forest practices code act, forest and range practices act, bc, endemic, riparian, habitat requirement, buffer zone, connectivity