Water voles of Lake Hula: assessing their past, present, and future

Nimrod Marom, Adva Olga Peretz, Ignacio A. Lazagabaster, Meirav Meiri, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The southernmost population of Eurasian water vole (Arvicola amphibius) inhabited Lake Hula in the upper Jordan Valley until the lake was drained in the 1950s. Considering the continuous conservation and restoration initiatives in the Hula Valley, we set out to verify the extinction of the Hula water vole population using trap surveys, field sign surveys, and owl pellets’ content. Having confirmed its recent extirpation, we used museum and archaeological specimens to study the morphological and genetic similarity of the extirpated Hula water voles to both modern conspecifics in Eurasia and to local Pleistocene specimens. Our results suggest that the Hula population represented an admixture of extinct local Pleistocene and extant, probably European, ancestors. The recent anthropogenic extirpation of this unique population could justify its reintroduction. Species distribution modelling, however, suggests future deterioration of habitat suitability over the coming decades. This calls for careful consideration of how sustainable a reintroduction would be.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Ancient DNA
  • Arvicola
  • Geometric morphometrics
  • Paleobiology
  • Species distribution modelling
  • Water vole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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