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Datasheet

Ovis aries musimon
(European mouflon)

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Datasheet

Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Ovis aries musimon
  • Preferred Common Name
  • European mouflon
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Mammalia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The European mouflon is a wild sheep that originates from the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia; it is thought to be descended from semidomesticated wild sheep from the Near East brought to Sardinia around 8...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
TitleMale
CaptionOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
Copyright©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
MaleOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); ewe feeding. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
TitleEwe
CaptionOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); ewe feeding. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
Copyright©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); ewe feeding. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
EweOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); ewe feeding. Hunting estate, Central Spain.©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
TitleMale
CaptionOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
Copyright©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
MaleOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); two males, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
TitleMale
CaptionOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); two males, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
Copyright©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); two males, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
MaleOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); two males, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
TitleMale
CaptionOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
Copyright©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
MaleOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
TitleMale
CaptionOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
Copyright©Jorge Cassinello Research Team
Ovis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.
MaleOvis aries musimon (European mouflon); male, in typical habitat. Hunting estate, Central Spain.©Jorge Cassinello Research Team

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Ovis aries musimon Pallas, 1811

Preferred Common Name

  • European mouflon

Other Scientific Names

  • Aegoceros musimon
  • Ovis ammon musimon
  • Ovis gmelini musimon Pallas, 1811
  • Ovis musimon Pallas, 1762
  • Ovis musimon musimon Pallas, 1762
  • Ovis musimon ophion Blyth, 1841
  • Ovis orientalis musimon Schreber, 1782
  • Ovis orientalis orientalis

International Common Names

  • English: mouflon
  • Spanish: muflón europeo
  • French: mouflon corse

Local Common Names

  • France/Corsica: muvra
  • Germany: Europäischer Mufflon; Muffel; Muffelwild
  • Italy: muflone

Summary of Invasiveness

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The European mouflon is a wild sheep that originates from the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia; it is thought to be descended from semidomesticated wild sheep from the Near East brought to Sardinia around 8000 years ago. It has been introduced to many countries in Europe and some elsewhere, mostly as a quarry species for hunting; the extent to which populations have become established or increased varies from country to country. In most countries there is little evidence of serious adverse effects (although there has been little research on the subject), but the mouflon is considered invasive in Hawaii and the Canary Islands, where it has had serious adverse effects on native vegetation.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Mammalia
  •                     Order: Artiodactyla
  •                         Suborder: Ruminantia
  •                             Family: Bovidae
  •                                 Genus: Ovis
  •                                     Subspecies: Ovis aries musimon

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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There is general agreement in the scientific community that the wild sheep (mouflons) that inhabit western Asia are the ancestors of all breeds of domestic sheep, Ovis aries (Groves and Grubb, 2011), being the same species according to DNA analyses, chromosome number or type of haemoglobin A (Bunch, 1978; Bunch et al., 1978). However, there is a certain accord among taxonomists and zoologists to name these wild forms differently (Gentry et al., 2004; but see Wilson and Reeder, 2005), either Ovis orientalis Gmelin, 1774 (Valdez, 2008), or Ovis gmelini Blyth, 1841 (Groves and Grubb, 2011; Castelló, 2016), plus subspecific names.

As for the European mouflon, its scientific denomination is quite controversial (Geist, 1971; Cugnasse, 1994). It was originally named as Aegoceros musimon (Pallas, 1811). Some authorities still consider it as a full species (Ovis musimon -- Haltenorth, 1963), while others consider it to be a subspecies either of argali (O. ammon musimon -- Pfeffer, 1967), of Asian mouflons, (O. gmelini musimon, e.g. Cugnasse (1994), or O. orientalis musimon, e.g. Valdez (1982) or Shackleton and Lovari (1997), or of domestic sheep (O. aries musimon -- Wilson and Reeder, 2005). Currently, most authors regard it as a subspecies of either Asian mouflons or domestic sheep.

It is widely acknowledged that this sheep originated from Asian wild sheep that were brought to Sardinia by humans about 8000 years BP (Apollonio and Meneguz, 2003), later introduced to Corsica as well and, probably after a predomestication phase (Poplin, 1979; see also Valdez, 2008), released into the wild 6000-7000 years BP (Shackleton, 1997; Wilson and Reeder, 2005). Given that it is generally assumed that European mouflons are feral populations of ancient domestic stocks, it is advisable to denominate them taxonomically as Ovis aries (Wilson and Reeder, 2005; Valdez, 2008), subspecies musimon, which is the name used in this datasheet, following ITIS (2016).

Description

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The European mouflon is a small-sized sheep, particularly compared to its Asian relatives and to some domestic breeds. Sexual dimorphism is present, with males weighing about 30% more than females. Both sexes can exhibit horns, although not all females (and none in the Sardinian population) do. The horns of males can be up to 60 cm long and are curved into a circle, sometimes converging at the neck in the oldest males (M. Apollonio, University of Sassari, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, personal communication, 2017). The coat colour is reddish brown, darker in winter when males have a black mane, with whitish tones on the snout, the ventral area and the distal part of the legs. (Asian mouflon from Asia Minor and Iran have clearer colours). The whitish tones of the face increase with age. The anal white coat is well marked. The tail is black and short. Mouflons have a thick skin and wool; the dense winter coat is shed in spring. Males are more robust than females and possess long hair on the neck, chest and front of the forelegs; they also show a characteristic side spot, the "saddle", of whitish tones, which is much less marked in females.

Average measurements are: length 127-145 cm (males), 120-130 cm (females); height 75-80 cm (males), 70-75 cm (females); weight 40-60 kg (males), 30-40 kg (females) (Rodríguez-Luengo et al., 2007). Sardinian mouflons are lighter, with males rarely exceeding 40 kg and females 30 kg (M. Apollonio, University of Sassari, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, personal communication, 2017).

Mouflon droppings are very similar to those of domestic sheep, i.e., black spheres of 1 cm diameter usually stacked in small piles. They may have a pyramidal or angular shape. Hoofprints have a rounded shape, with the tips of the hooves usually separate, and the dewclaws leaving no mark. In an adult male the hoofprint measures 5.5 cm long by 4.5 wide; in females it is somewhat smaller. The distance between two consecutive steps is 40-60 cm in males and 35-40 cm in females (Bang and Dahlstrom, 1999).

Distribution

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Native Distribution

The European mouflon, probably a predomesticated form of the Asian mouflon, is considered to be historically native to the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia, although it probably originated from ancient domestic stock in Neolithic times (Poplin, 1979; see also Valdez, 2008). The lack of mouflon fossil remains, both in Corsica and Sardinia, supports this hypothesis, although preservation of fossils in the acidic soils of these islands is unlikely (Corti, 1993).

In Corsica, it can be found in the massif of Monte Cinto in the north and the Bavella massif in the south (Cugnasse, 2001; Dubray, 2010). In Sardinia it is found in areas such as the central-eastern part of the island, Montiferru in the west, Capo Figari and the island of Asinara; it has also been reintroduced to the north coast (Apollonio, 2006; Apollonio et al., 2010b; Cotza, 2016). Mouflons used to be quite abundant on these two islands, as indicated by the naturalist Cetti in the 18th Century (Cetti, 2000), and the first census undertaken in Corsica showed the existence of more than 2200 individuals in 1826 (Cugnasse, 1993). Although at the beginning of the 20th century numbers probably reached 4000, they dropped dramatically from 1927 onwards, mainly due to an extreme level of poaching activity and the incidence of huge fires that affected the areas where main populations were present (Pfeffer, 1967). It was not until a serious programme of protection in the 1970s that the population started to recover, reaching 600 animals in 1996 (Weller, 2001), a level that seems to be maintained at present (Dubray, 2010). In Sardinia, the story is quite similar, with  poaching, loss of habitat, fires and competition with domestic sheep playing a main role in the decline of mouflon (Cotza, 2016). This decline started in the 1950s, with the population falling from 3000-4000 individuals in 1950 to 100-200 in 1970. Recovery measures, promoted by the island authorities, and including better legal protection and the decrease of sheep farming at higher altitudes, resulted in a population increase to around 3000 in 1994 (Weller, 2001). Currently, numbers reach 6000 to 7000 individuals, but nevertheless the species needs constant conservation and management measures (Cotza, 2016; Apollonio et al. 2012).

Exotic Distribution

European mouflons have been introduced to many countries in Europe and a number of others around the world, due mainly to game interests. It is not clear when the first introduction took place in mainland Europe, as there is evidence of its presence in some parks and gardens as an ornamental animal in the Middle Ages (Santiago-Moreno et al., 2004). The first recorded introductions date from the 18th century. The species is now present in many regions and countries of Europe (Valdez, 1982; Tomiczek, 1985; Uloth and Prien, 1985; Apollonio et al., 2010a; Linnell and Zachos, 2011; see also a review by Weller, 2001).

Free-ranging herds can be found in Austria (Grubesic and Krapinec, 2000; Reimoser and Reimoser, 2010), Belgium (Casaer and Licoppe, 2010), Bulgaria (Markov and Penev, 2001; Weller, 2001), Croatia (Grubesic and Krapinec, 2001; Kusak and Krapinek, 2010), the Czech Republic (Uloth, 1972; Uloth and Prien, 1985; Bartos et al., 2010), mainland France (Cugnasse, 2001; Weller, 2001), Germany (Uloth and Prien, 1985; Wotschikowsky, 2010), Hungary (Csányi and Lehoczki, 2010), mainland Italy, Luxembourg (Massard and Kintziger, 1994), Poland (Wawrzyniak et al., 2010), Serbia (Paunovic et al., 2010), Slovakia (Uloth and Prien, 1985; Find’o and Skuban, 2010), Slovenia (Krze, 2001; Adamic and Jerina, 2010), Spain (Cassinello, 2003; Rodríguez-Luengo et al., 2007; Carranza, 2010), Sweden (Liberg et al., 2010), Switzerland (Imesch-Bebié et al., 2010), and Ukraine (Uloth and Prien, 1985; Weller, 2001). There are also populations on offshore islands of Denmark (Andersen and Holthe, 2010), Finland (Ruusila and Kojola, 2010) and Greece (Papaioannou, 2010).

Finally, herds confined exclusively to fenced areas can be found in Belarus, Lithuania, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Portugal and Romania (Weller, 2001; Linnell and Zachos, 2011). A few free-ranging populations introduced in different periods of the 20th Century in Romania (Uloth and Prien, 1985; Micu et al., 2010) eventually disappeared, probably due to harsh climatic conditions, predators and poaching (Micu et al., 2010). In Portugal, some mouflons have managed to escape from fenced areas, but there is no evidence of the establishment of free-ranging populations (Vingada et al., 2010).

Free-ranging mouflons have also been introduced in parts of Argentina, Chile and the USA (California, Texas and Hawaii), and also to the Kerguelen Islands, which are located in the southern Indian Ocean but belong to France (Chapuis et al., 1994). They have been eradicated form the latter (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, 2013; Cooper, 2014).

More detail on the current introduced distribution of the species is provided in the ‘History of Introduction’ section.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Africa

Spain
-Canary IslandsLocalisedIntroduced1971 Invasive Rodríguez-Luengo et al., 1988; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Medina, 2010; Moreno, 2016Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera islands

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaLocalisedIntroduced1953Uloth, 1972
-HawaiiLocalisedIntroduced1962 Invasive Uloth, 1972; Giffin, 1982Present in Lana`i and Hawai’i islands where it can be locally abundant. Most populations are hybrid forms originating from interbreeding with domestic and feral sheep.
-TexasLocalisedIntroduced1946Uloth, 1972Most populations are hybrid forms originating from interbreeding with domestic and feral sheep

South America

ArgentinaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1960sGazzari, 1978Neuquén province. In private game reserves, with larger populations in hunting ranches on the slopes of the Andes.
ChilePresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1980sJaksic, 1998Present in hunting estates in Central Chile and Lake District.

Europe

AustriaLocalisedIntroduced1731 Not invasive Uloth, 1972
BelarusPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedWeller, 2001
BelgiumLocalisedIntroduced1936 Not invasive Casaer and Licoppe, 2010Semois Valley, Wallonia
BulgariaWidespreadIntroduced1967 Not invasive Markov and Penev, 2001
CroatiaLocalisedIntroduced1900Grubesic and Krapinec, 2001On the mainland (usually in fenced hunting estates) and in the Brijuni Islands
Czech RepublicWidespreadIntroduced1858 Not invasive Uloth and Prien, 1985
DenmarkLocalisedIntroducedcirca 1950Andersen and Holthe, 2010On 2 islands
FinlandLocalisedIntroduced1939Ruusila and Kojola, 2010Around 100 mouflons inhabit two islands
FranceLocalisedIntroduced1949 Not invasive Cugnasse, 2001Mainland mouflon mainly hybrids with domestic sheep. Native in Corsica – see separate entry.
-CorsicaLocalisedNative Not invasive Poplin, 1979Population probably originated from ancient domestic stock in Neolithic times
GermanyLocalisedIntroduced1906 Not invasive Uloth and Prien, 1985
GreeceLocalisedIntroducedWeller, 2001; Papaioannou, 2010First introduction 1979. Only free-ranging population is on Sapientza Island, where the species was introduced in 1982. There is no reference to effects on native flora.
HungaryLocalisedIntroduced1903 Not invasive Csányi and Lehoczki, 2010
ItalyLocalisedIntroduced1780 Not invasive Tomiczek, 1985Native in Sardinia – see separate entry.
-SardiniaLocalisedNative Not invasive Poplin, 1979Population probably originated from ancient domestic stock in Neolithic times
LithuaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Weller, 2001
LuxembourgLocalisedIntroduced1968 Not invasive Massard and Kintziger, 1994
MacedoniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Weller, 2001
NetherlandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Weller, 2001
PolandLocalisedIntroduced1901 Not invasive Weller, 2001
PortugalPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Weller, 2001; Vingada et al., 2010Some have escaped, but no evidence of established feral populations
RomaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Uloth and Prien, 1985; Micu et al., 2010
SerbiaLocalisedIntroduced1958 Not invasive Paunovic et al., 2010
SlovakiaWidespreadIntroduced1868 Not invasive Find'o and Skuban, 2010
SloveniaLocalisedIntroduced1953 Not invasive Krze, 2001
SpainWidespreadIntroduced1954 Not invasive Weller, 2001Invasive in Canary Islands -- see separate entry
SwedenLocalisedIntroduced Not invasive Liberg et al., 2010
SwitzerlandLocalisedIntroduced1970s Not invasive Imesch-Bebié et al., 2010
UkraineLocalisedIntroduced1894 Not invasive Uloth and Prien, 1985

Oceania

French Southern and Antarctic TerritoriesEradicatedIntroducedChapuis et al., 1994; Kaeuffer et al., 2010; Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, 2013; Cooper, 2014Haute Island, Kerguelen archipelago. Eradicated, except for one individual, by 2012

History of Introduction and Spread

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(Note that in most cases the History of Introduction table lists only the first introduction to a country or region; for information on subsequent introductions, see the text below).

Europe

It is not clear when the first introduction of the species took place in mainland Europe, as there is evidence of its presence in some parks and gardens as an ornamental animal in the Middle Ages (Santiago-Moreno et al., 2004). According to Uloth (1972), in 1731 Prince Eugene of Savoy introduced the mouflon as a game species from Corsica and Sardinia into the park of Belvedére and the Lainz game reserve, both near Vienna, Austria. Another source indicates that the first introduction took place in 1780, when Duke Leopold of Tuscany transported several individuals to the North Italian Apennine Mountains (Tomiczek, 1985). The first introduction of a significant number of mouflons in the wild in mainland Europe took place in what is now Slovakia in 1868 (Uloth, 1972).

The following paragraphs summarize the presence of the species in European countries.

Austria

Mouflons from Corsica and Sardinia were introduced as game to the park of Belvedére and the Lainz game reserve, both near Vienna, in 1731 by Prince Eugene of Savoy (Uloth, 1972). Since then, the species has become a common hunting quarry in the country. Tomiczek (1985) indicates that in 1978 Austria accounted for 11.4% of the European mouflon population (6,000 individuals). However, the species is restricted to a small area, equivalent to 2% of the country (Reimoser and Reimoser, 2010).

Belgium

The mouflon was introduced in 1936 in the Semois Valley, in the region of Wallonia, and new introductions took place in the same location in 1954; in 2006, it was estimated that there was a population of at least 400 individuals (Casaer and Licoppe, 2010).

Bulgaria

After a series of unsuccessful attempts to introduce the species in the country, between 1967 and 1977 some animals brought from Central Europe finally settled and originated the first free-ranging population, spread throughout different hunting areas (Markov and Penev, 2001; Weller, 2001). By 1996 it was estimated that there were nearly 2500 individuals (Weller, 2001).

Croatia

According to Grubesic and Krapinec (2001), mouflons were introduced into the continental region of what is now Croatia in 1900 (Ivancica mountain), and eight years later to the Brijuni Islands. Although the species eventually disappeared from the mainland, island populations were later used as a base for reintroduction to the whole country. There is now a series of isolated populations in the Pannonian, mountainous and coastal regions of the country, usually in fenced hunting estates except in the islands; in 2003 the population was 1600 (Kusak and Krapinek, 2010). New introductions from the Czech Republic and Slovakia were undertaken during the 20th century to increase genetic diversity (Grubesic and Krapinec, 2001).

Czech Republic

The first mouflons arrived in the Hluboká zoological garden in Bohemia in 1858. Larger mouflon populations were probably were brought from Slovakia. In 1978, 14,370 individuals inhabited Czechoslovakia (see Uloth and Prien, 1985); and in the late 1990s the species spread across practically the whole Czech territory, currently occupying most of it and reaching a population of 16,000 individuals (Bartos et al., 2010).

Denmark

Mouflons were brought to Denmark around 1950, and have been kept in several private parks and on a couple of islands (Andersen and Holthe, 2010). A small population (80 individuals) is present on the island of Vejrø and a few live on Æbelø island, where they are sustainably hunted and managed by the Aage V. Jensen Naturfond (http://www.avjf.dk/avjnf/naturomrader/aebelo/), in order to preserve the native flora and fauna and the regeneration of forests.

Finland

Mouflons have been introduced to two islands, one in the Gulf of Finland and the other in the Bothnian Bay In 1939, eight animals were brought from the Helsinki Zoo to one of the islands, and three years later, two females and a male from there were introduced to the other island, with further introductions afterwards; currently there are about 100 mouflons as a whole (Ruusila and Kojola, 2010).

France (mainland, Corsica not included)

The first introduction that gave rise to a long-term persistent population of mouflons took place in the Mercantour massif in the Alps in 1949 (Cugnasse, 2001). They were brought from both Corsica and Sardinia, but many interbred with domestic sheep, and most mainland mouflons are now considered hybrid forms (Cugnasse, 1994). They have become established in different locations, particularly in the southern part of the country, with more than 11,000 individuals counted in 1995 (Weller, 2001).

Germany

In 1906, five mouflons were released in the Harz Mountains, this being the origin of the current German population (Uloth and Prien, 1985). Wotschikowsky (2010) indicates that 13,000 individuals inhabit German territories.

Greece

Mouflons were first introduced in 1979 in a private hunting preserve. Later on other estates attempted to offer the species as a game animal (Weller, 2001); however, currently it can be found free-ranging only on Sapientza Island off the Peloponnese, where it was introduced in 1982 (Papaioannou, 2010).

Hungary

The first mouflons were introduced to the Mátra Mountains in 1903. Between 1960 and 2005, the population increased from 1400 to 10,000 animals; 25% live in fenced game areas (Csányi and Lehoczki, 2010).

Italy (mainland, Sardinia not included)

In 1780 Duke Leopold of Tuscany transported several mouflons from Sardinia to the North Italian Apennine Mountains, and two centuries later, in 1978, the total population of mouflons in Italy was estimated to be 3350 individuals (Tomiczek, 1985).

Luxembourg

The first introduction of the species took place in 1905, but the animals were kept in an enclosure in the Grand Duchy’s reserve at Imbringen, in the Grunewald forest. More were brought later from the Netherlands, but it was not until 1968 that a few were released into the wild, in the national reserve at Kaundorf, in the Ardennes region. The population settled, grew and split into different groups, and by 1992 there were 100-200 animals. Free-ranging mouflons can also be found in the Hosingen and Christnach-Heffingen regions, where they were introduced accidentally (see Massard and Kintziger, 1994; Weller, 2001).

Poland

Mouflons were introduced in what is now south-western Poland in 1901 from Slovakia. Since then numbers have fluctuated from 300 up to 1000 individuals, reaching 1500 in 1996 (Weller, 2001). More recently mouflons from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have been brought to the Swietokrzyskie Mountains (see Wawrzyniak et al., 2010).

Portugal

Some mouflons have managed to escape from fenced areas in Portugal, but there is no evidence of the establishment of free-ranging populations (Vingada et al., 2010).

Romania

A few free-ranging populations introduced in different periods of the 20th Century in Romania (Uloth and Prien, 1985; Micu et al., 2010) eventually disappeared, probably due to harsh climatic conditions, predators and poaching (Micu et al., 2010).

Serbia

The species was first introduced in a fenced hunting reserve in Lipovica in 1958. Most mouflon populations in Serbia live in fenced areas, with the exception of a small free-ranging population on Rudnik Mountain, central Serbia (Paunovic et al., 2010). The species has been included in the red list of Serbian vertebrates, despite its exotic origin, as it is threatened by predators and harsh winters (Paunovic et al., 2010).

Slovakia

Nine mouflons reared in zoos were transplanted to an acclimation pen in the Tribec Mountains in 1868, and in 1883 mouflons were released into the surrounding hunting areas. The population increased steadily due to hunting interests, and more introductions were carried out, including individuals directly from Corsica and Sardinia (Find’o and Skuban, 2010). Currently, Slovakia probably has one of the largest mouflon populations in Europe, with an estimated size of more than 8000 individuals in 2003 (Find’o and Skuban, 2010).

Slovenia

Due to hunting interests, mouflons were brought to Slovenia in the second half of the 20th Century (Krze, 2001). The first introduction took place in 1953, followed by eight more events in the following years, the most recent taking place in 1974 (Krze, 2001). Animals were obtained from the Croatian Brijuni Islands and from Tuscany (Italy). In 1998 around 2000 mouflons inhabited Slovenia (Krze, 2001), in a number of isolated populations (Adamic and Jerina, 2010).

Spain

Mouflons were introduced to the Sierra de Cazorla, Jáen, in 1954, and in the next decade to El Hosquillo (Serranía de Cuenca). The species rapidly settled and reproduced and soon became a valued hunting trophy; it can now be found in many game reserves, both public and private. It has adapted well to the Mediterranean ecosystem present in the Iberian Peninsula. By 1996 the total population was estimated at 5000 individuals, mainly in south-central Spain, although numbers might reach 20,000 if there was a proper census of all captive populations currently present in hunting reserves (see Weller, 2001).

Unfortunately, the species was also introduced to the Teide National Park in Tenerife (Canary Islands) in 1971, and has become a threat to the native Macaronesian flora (Cassinello, 2003; Rodríguez-Luengo et al., 2007; Carranza, 2010). Moreover, Acevedo-Rodríguez and Medina (2010) noted that a few individuals were brought to La Palma island, also in the Canary Islands, in 2004. They were kept in captivity with domestic sheep with which they interbred. Five years later both mouflons and hybrids were observed to be free-ranging on the island. The authorities decided to eradicate them, but so far no information is available on their current presence or eradication. Also, Moreno (2016) commented on the recent presence of a few mouflons, probably also hybrids with domestic sheep, in the Garajonay National Park, in La Gomera (Canary Islands). The Spanish authorities consider the species to be exotic in Spain as a whole, but invasive only in the Canary Islands.

Sweden

According to Liberg et al. (2010), during recent decades mouflons have escaped from game parks and enclosures in southern and south-central Sweden, forming small, but growing, free-ranging groups. The county of Södermanland is home to several fragmented populations, with others along the coast and islands further south. These authors estimate that there are no more than 1000 individuals in the whole country.

Switzerland

The Swiss population of mouflons originated in the 1970s by natural colonization from a population in the Department of Haute-Savoie, France, where the species had been brought from Corsica 20 years earlier. Currently, two colonies of about 250 individuals are present in the Canton of Valais, near the French border (Imesch-Bebié et al., 2010).

Ukraine

Mouflons were first introduced to the Askaniya-Nova reserve in the Kherson region in 1894. Additional introductions took place afterwards, and by 1985 the population reached 220 individuals. Mouflons were also introduced to the Crimean peninsula in 1913, although the population did not reach high numbers (Weller, 2001). The species can also be found in the Transcarpathian region. Around 900 mouflons were estimated to inhabit Ukraine in 1996.

Americas

Argentina

The first introductions took place in the 1960s, when a few animals were brought from the Hellabrunn zoo, Munich, Germany, to Neuquén Province (Gazzari, 1978). The species can currently be found in various private game reserves, although larger populations are probably present in extensive hunting ranches on the slopes of the Andes in Neuquén province.

Chile

Mouflons were introduced to the Osorno area in the 1980s but there is no information about the success of the introduction (Jaksic, 1998). The species can apparently be found in several hunting estates in Central Chile and the Lake District.

USA

The first introductions of mouflons in the United States were made in Texas in 1946, California in 1953, and Hawaii (Lana`i island) in 1954; but pure mouflons are rare, and most populations present in Texas and Hawaii are hybrid forms originating from interbreeding with domestic and feral sheep (see Uloth, 1972).

Since the 18th century, exotic herbivores, such as goats and sheep, have been introduced to several Hawaiian islands (although mouflon were not introduced until much later). Their presence showed quite deleterious effects on native plants, and two centuries after the first introductions attempts started to be implemented to either eradicate them or protect certain areas with fences, to allow the recovery of the natural vegetation. A paradoxical example is the case of La¯na`i island, where goats and sheep were eradicated in the 1980s, but which hosts the first European mouflon population introduced to Hawaii (see Giffin, 1982; Tomich, 1986; Hess and Jacobi, 2011). Also, plant communities in the Mauna Kea volcano area of Hawai’i island have suffered from overgrazing since the introduction of feral goats and sheep; in the 1930s culling, harvesting and the construction of fences were begun to prevent damage to vegetation, but despite these actions, mouflons, hybridised with feral sheep, were released between 1962 and 1966 to encourage hunting (Giffin, 1982). Currently, mouflons have spread from their points of introduction on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to occupy the entire central portion of the island (Hess et al. 2006; Hess and Jacobi, 2011).

In sum, the mouflon has proved to be a serious threat to the Hawaiian endemic flora (Hess and Jacobi, 2011; Ikagawa, 2013). However, its management is contradictory, as there is a fundamental conflict between managing for hunting and managing for ecosystem conservation (Ikagawa, 2013).

Indian Ocean

Kerguelen Islands

In 1957, a pair of mouflons were introduced to Haute Island, one of the minor islands of the Kerguelen archipelago in the Sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean (Chapuis et al., 1994). This is the origin of a viable population that showed an irruptive dynamics pattern -- after a gradual increase, reaching more than 700 individuals, a population crash was documented 21 years after introduction, with a 71% reduction in population size in two years, explained by lagged density-dependence and an exhaustion of available resources. The mouflon population continued to go up and down every three years or so (Kaeuffer et al., 2010). Until recently no harvesting had been implemented on Haute Island to control mouflon numbers, but the population was largley eradicated in 2009, and all but one of the remaining individuals were killed in 2012 (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, 2013; Cooper, 2014).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Argentina 1960s Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Gazzari (1978)
Austria Corsica 1731 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth (1972)
Austria Sardinia 1731 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth (1972)
Belgium 1936 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Casaer and Licoppe (2010)
Bulgaria Central Europe 1967-1977 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Markov and Penev (2001)
California 1953 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth (1972)
Canary Islands Spain 1971 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Rodríguez-Luengo et al. (1988)
Chile 1980s Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Jaksic (1998)
Croatia 1900 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) ,
Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)
Yes No Grubesic and Krapinec (2001)
Czech Republic 1858 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth (1972) Some introductions probably from Slovakia.
Denmark circa 1950 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Andersen and Holthe (2010)
Finland 1939 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Ruusila and Kojola (2010) Mouflons from Helsinki zoo introduced to two islands
France Corsica 1949 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Cugnasse (2001)
France Sardinia 1949 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Cugnasse (2001)
French Southern and Antarctic Territories 1957 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Chapuis et al. (1994) Kerguelen Islands
Germany 1906 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth and Prien (1985)
Greece Germany 1979 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) No No Papaioannou (2010) There is a free-ranging population only on Sapientza Island, where the species was introduced in 1982
Hawaii 1962 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Giffin (1982)
Hungary 1903 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Csányi and Lehoczki (2010)
Italy Sardinia 1780 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Tomiczek (1985)
Luxembourg Netherlands 1968 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Massard and Kintziger (1994)
Poland Slovakia 1901 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Weller (2001)
Serbia 1958 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Paunovic et al. (2010)
Slovakia Corsica 1868 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Find'o and Skuban (2010) Also introduced from zoo stocks
Slovakia Sardinia 1868 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Find'o and Skuban (2010) Also introduced from zoo stocks
Slovenia Croatia 1953 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Krze (2001)
Slovenia Italy 1953 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Krze (2001)
Spain Corsica 1954 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Weller (2001)
Sweden   Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Liberg et al. (2010) Free-ranging due to escapes from game parks
Switzerland France 1970s Self-propelled (pathway cause) Yes No Imesch-Bebié et al. (2010) Natural colonization from a population in Haute Savoie, France
Texas 1946 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth (1972)
Ukraine 1894 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Uloth and Prien (1985)

Risk of Introduction

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Based on the introduction initiatives carried out in different countries, new introductions of the species might be expected in countries where the species is already established -- in most countries no harmful effects have been observed on the native environments (it is thus not considered as invasive), and it has value as a game species. In Europe, countries that become aware of the serious risks associated with scrubland/forest range increase due to the abandonment of intensive agriculture and livestock practices (risks such as higher fire rates and biodiversity loss due to the disappearance of pastures) might be interested in the mouflon as a wild alternative to maintaining mosaic landscapes through grazing behaviour (Cassinello, 2012).

Habitat

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Like most wild sheep, the European mouflon usually selects mountainous areas, with open woods and broad pastures; it often visits areas of ecotone between pastures and forests and rocky and stony areas, usually at altitudes between 1000 and 1500 metres (Pfeffer, 1967). Most populations show a small seasonal migration, usually spreading to higher altitudes and occupying large areas during the summer, while in autumn they go down to mid-altitude areas and during the winter they are often concentrated in sheltered valleys. Sex segregation exists particularly in spring and summer, when females remain at high altitudes and males tend to be concentrated in the valleys (Pfeffer, 1967).

Although the species prefers scrub and rocky areas, it easily adapts to different habitats. In its original range of Corsica and Sardinia it lives in areas with dense cover of Mediterranean scrub, but in contrast, it has adapted to high altitudes in the Pyrenees and the Alps. According to Cassinello (2003), in Spain it can also be found in a variety of habitats, from deforested and rocky peaks (Cazorla mountains, Jaén) to humid forests (Cádiz). The Sardinian population was once distributed from the mountains down to the coast, and introduced populations elsewhere in Europe can survive in a wide variety of environments from small Mediterranean islands to northern coniferous forests, and from sea level to altitudes over 2000 m (M. Apollonio, University of Sassari, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, personal communication, 2017).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Rocky areas / lava flows Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The number of chromosomes, (2n) = 54, is the same as that of domestic sheep (Ovis aries), with which the European mouflon shares the haemoglobin A allele (Bunch, 1978; Bunch et al., 1978). It interbreeds with domestic sheep, resulting in viable hybrid sheep; instances abound throughout its distribution range (e.g. Uloth, 1972; Cugnasse, 1994; Moreno, 2016).

Reproductive Biology

As with most female wild sheep, mouflons come into heat from late autumn to early winter. Males are organized under a strict dominance hierarchy determined by the age and size of their horns. Fighting based on frontal collisions allows status maintenance. Males adopt a number of strategies in order to have access to females, from coursing to female defence. Like most ungulates, mouflons are polygynous, and only a few males reproduce in each breeding season, while all females do. Mouflon females do not reproduce until they are 2-3 years old, while males reach full social maturity and largest size at 5-7 years; but both sexes are sexually mature at an earlier age: females at a year and a half and males at two years. The gestation period is 5.5 months and 1-2 young are born in spring. Weaning usually takes place at 6 months. Young females remain in the group of their mothers; males, however, are forced to form their own group when they reach 2-4 years of age.

For more detail on reproductive physiology, see below under ‘Physiology and Phenology’.

Physiology and Phenology

Colour, length and thickness of the coat is determined by the photoperiod (Santiago-Moreno et al., 1997) – it is darker (chocolate brown) and of greater length and density in winter (Ryder, 1960). In all cases, colour is lighter in females. The coat consists of two types of hair. The first one, the outer coat, is long and originates in the primary hair follicles of the skin, acting as mechanical protection and possessing sweat glands, erector muscles and sebaceous glands. A woolly under-coat grows in secondary follicles, which are formed later than the primaries, and whose only accessory is a sebaceous gland; it provides thermal protection (Ryder, 1960; Allain et al., 1994). Follicular activity and the variation of the ratio of secondary and primary follicles are modulated by the annual variations of photoperiod, acting through prolactin. The photoperiod determines a perfect synchronization of the endogenous rhythm of follicular activity (Allain et al., 1994), allowing moulting and hair growth to occur at the appropriate times to confer adaptation to seasonal climatic conditions. Thus, in summer a short top coat is produced, and in winter a dense coat conferring thermal protection (Ryder, 1960, 1973; Rougeot et al., 1984). Hair growth is inversely correlated with annual variations in prolactin secretion. The decrease in plasma concentrations of prolactin from the summer solstice to winter coincides with the period of hair growth, while its increasing level in the spring acts as an endocrine signal for moulting (Lincoln, 1990; Santiago-Moreno et al., 1997).

Reproductive physiology determines mouflon phenology. As the progesterone secretion profile reflects the activity of the corpus luteum and thereby the ovulation process, the annual evolution of its concentration in the plasma allows accurate definition of the cyclical ovulatory activity. Thus, a study carried out by Santiago-Moreno et al. (2001) showed that the annual evolution of progesterone secretion explains mouflon reproductive seasonality, characterized by a single ovulatory activity period with regular cycles of progesterone, separated by a period of anoestrus, with no cycles and basal levels of progesterone. Sporadic observations of mating in spring would be explained by the presence of females that were not pregnant in autumn, and therefore continued with their cyclic ovulatory activity until the establishment of anoestrus in spring.

Mouflon ewes’ sexual cycle has an average duration of 17 days, ranging from 16 to 18 days. It is mostly monovular, i.e., only one follicle reaches ovulation in each cycle and therefore usually a single lamb is born. The period of sexual receptivity lasts 24 to 48 hours, and is characterized mainly by the expression of the standing reflex before the male courtship. Male reproductive activity is seasonal, which has been well defined by analyzing variations in plasma concentrations of testosterone and testicular size (Lincoln 1998).

Dry years, characterized by a delay of autumn rains, result in a marked deficit of shrub and herbaceous layers. Under this scenario, mouflon ewes reach their breeding season with a low body condition also influenced by the large energy expenditure during lactation, so a delay is observed in restoration of cyclical ovulatory activity. With the arrival of the first rains, the rapid development of plant cover leads to a rapid increase in ewes’ body condition, resulting in the establishment of the first ovulations and the first manifestations of oestrus behaviour (Santiago-Moreno et al., 2003). The increase of body condition resulting from feeding at the time of mating can cause an increase in ovulation rate and consequently a higher incidence of twin births in years of high rainfall when more food is available.

Longevity

The European mouflon may live up to 22.8 years in captive conditions (Weigl, 2005). In the wild, the average life span reached by adults depends on many factors (phenotypic and environmental) as well as the dynamics of the populations (Gaillard et al., 1998; Bérubé et al., 1999), but the average longevity is around 15 years.

Activity Patterns

Like many other ungulates from temperate areas, mouflons are more active at dawn and sunset, when they devote time to feeding; they may also show nocturnal behaviour. During the middle hours of the day they tend to rest (Pfeffer, 1967; J. Cassinello, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Almería, Spain, personal observation). The species is basically sedentary, but may undertake seasonal movements in case of summer drought, because of the arrival of domestic herds in their habitats during springtime, or in order to search for water or better pastures. Movements over longer distances have been reported after heavy snowfalls (Bon et al., 1990). A detailed analysis of ewes’ locomotor activity was also undertaken by Langbein and Scheibe (2001).

Population Size and Structure

Mouflon herds are relatively large compared to other ungulate species, although size varies depending on several factors, including season and food availability. During the mating season mixed groups of variable size are formed. During the rest of the year males and females segregate, the latter remaining grouped with their young, while males tend to be solitary or form small groups. Female groups are quite stable and philopatric, and adult males apparently facilitate gene flow between them because of their greater tendency to disperse.

Nutrition

The European mouflon is a herbivorous species that feeds on a wide variety of plant species, being considered as an opportunistic feeder (Heroldová et al., 2007). It tends to prefer herbaceous plants but its diet includes very different types of plants, including many species of shrubs (Pfeffer, 1967; Marchand et al., 2013). It also displays a selective dietary strategy directed towards a relatively high overall nutritional quality when compared to other sympatric species, such as red deer (Miranda et al., 2012). It shows seasonal shifts in forage selection largely mediated by seasonal changes in the nutritional value of available vegetation, although as a whole, it shows a higher preference for the herbaceous layer (Rodríguez-Luengo et al., 1988; Heroldová and Homolka, 2001; Miranda et al., 2012). In Corsica bark, stems and leaves of woody plants may constitute up to 74% of the diet (Heroldová, 1988). An analysis of nutrients included in the diet was carried out by Anke et al. (2001), who investigated winter grazing of the European mouflon and other wild ruminants in Middle Germany.

Environmental Requirements

Mouflons tend to inhabit mountainous areas, selecting the ecotone between pastures and forests, often between 1000 and 1500 meters in altitude (Pfeffer, 1967). In the native range of Corsica and Sardinia they inhabit areas with dense cover of Mediterranean scrub. They have also adapted to high mountain environments in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
Forbs All Stages 27
Grasses All Stages 28
Shrubs All Stages 45

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Tolerated Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
60 35

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aquila chrysaetos Predator Juvenile not specific N/A
Canis lupus Predator All Stages not specific N/A
Lynx lynx Predator All Stages not specific N/A
Sus scrofa Predator Juvenile not specific
Ursus arctos Predator All Stages not specific N/A
Vulpes vulpes Predator Juvenile not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In most continental areas where mouflons are present they are subject to hunting, but natural threats such as predators, interbreeding with domestic sheep and harsh winters also affect them in some regions (e.g., Krze, 2001; Wotschikowsky, 2010). Natural predators are mainly wolves (Canis lupus) and lynx (Lynx lynx), particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, where brown bears (Ursus arctos) may also predate on the species (Micu et al., 2010); the young can also be preyed upon by foxes (Vulpes vulpes), large eagles and feral dogs (Pfeffer, 1967). Furthermore, it is well known that wild boar may predate on domestic shep lambs (e.g. Pavlov and Hone, 1982), so it could be expected that they do the same to mouflon lambs. In countries like Spain, hunting is the main factor controlling the mouflon population, due to the scarcity of natural predators. Interspecific competition with other ungulates, including other exotic species such as the aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) in Spain, should also be taken into account when addressing mouflon population dynamics (Miranda et al., 2012).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Most introductions of mouflon have been deliberate for the purposes of hunting, although in some cases they have escaped from areas in which they were intended to be enclosed so the presence of wild populations is accidental. Once in the wild they can disperse naturally – this is the origin of the Swiss population, for example.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal production Yes Apollonio et al., 2010a; Uloth, 1972; Weller, 2001
Botanical gardens and zoos Yes Apollonio et al., 2010a; Uloth, 1972; Weller, 2001
Escape from confinement or garden escapeThis is the origin of the Swedish mouflon population Yes Liberg et al., 2010
Hunting, angling, sport or racingMost introductions have been for this purpose. Yes
Self-propelled Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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Although in many areas the presence of mouflon has boosted hunting interest and related revenues, their presence on islands (e.g. Hawaii and the Canary Islands) is causing significant environmental damage that results in high economic costs to protect habitats.

Mouflon can have harmful effects on crops and cultivated land close to the areas where they live (Kamler and Homolka, 2016).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Although the mouflon is exotic in continental Europe, and in some instances numbers are considered to be too high (Find’o and Skuban, 2010), no clear evidence of environmental impacts has been reported, apart from the expected effects of a medium-sized herbivore on the vegetation. As it is an ancestor of domestic sheep, its effects on the environment are expected to be similar to those of free-living sheep. In in order to allow forest regeneration, mouflons are subject to hunting monitoring in most of the countries where they are present (see Apollonio et al., 2010a).

Their presence on islands where they are not native (e.g. Hawaii, the Canary Islands and the Kerguelen Islands) is affecting shrubland and forest landscapes by facilitating the presence of open grassland.

Impact on Biodiversity

The species has serious adverse effects on biodiversity in those islands where it has been introduced (e.g. Hawaii, the Canary Islands and the Kerguelen Islands), due to its negative impact on native flora (Rodríguez-Luengo, 2008; Hess and Jacobi, 2011; Ikagawa, 2013). Species affected are listed in the Threatened Species table.

In the continental areas where the species has been introduced it might threaten native vegetation and/or compete with native ungulates, but no conclusive data have been obtained so far; research is needed (Cassinello, 2003).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Abutilon eremitopetalumCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Lanai
Abutilon menziesiiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Lanai
Argyroxiphium kauenseCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii Island
Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. sandwicense (Hawaii silversword)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii Island
Bencomia exstipulataVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Tenerife
Calamagrostis expansa (Maui reedgrass)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii Island
Canavalia pubescens (jack bean)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Lanai
Cerastium sventeniiEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Tenerife
Cheirolophus metlesicsiiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Tenerife
Chrysodracon fernaldii (hala pepe)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Lanai
Cicer canarienseEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Tenerife
Clermontia lindseyanaEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii Island
Clermontia pyrulariaCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii Island
Colubrina oppositifoliaCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii Island
Cyanea gibsoniiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995 Lanai
Cyanea munroiUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013 Lanai
Echium auberianumNational list(s) National list(s)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingRodríguez-Luengo, 2008 Tenerife
Erigeron calderaeNational list(s) National list(s)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingRodríguez-Luengo, 2008 Tenerife
Exocarpos menziesiiUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016 Hawaii Island
Festuca hawaiiensis (Hawai'i fescue)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii Island
Gahnia lanaiensisUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995 Lanai
Gardenia remyi (Remy's gardenia)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii Island
Helianthemum juliaeNational list(s) National list(s)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingRodríguez-Luengo, 2008 Tenerife
Huperzia stemmermanniae (Stemmermann's clubmoss)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii Island
Isodendrion pyrifoliumCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii Island
Joinvillea ascendens subsp. ascendensNatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii Island
Lotus berthelotiiNational list(s) National list(s)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingRodríguez-Luengo, 2008 Tenerife
Microlepia strigosa var. mauiensisUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii Island
Nothocestrum breviflorumCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii island
Nothocestrum latifolium (broadleaf aiea)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016 Lanai
Ochrosia haleakalae (island yellowwood)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii island
Ochrosia kilaueaensis (Hawai'i yellowwood)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii island
Phyllostegia brevidensUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii island
Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis (ulihi phyllostegia)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995 Lanai
Phyllostegia haliakalae (Lanai phyllostegia)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013 Lanai
Phyllostegia parviflora (smallflower phyllostegia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii island
Plantago hawaiensis (Hawai'i plantain)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996 Hawaii island
Portulaca villosaUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii island and Lanai
Ranunculus hawaiensis (Hawai'ian buttercup)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016 Hawaii island
Rhaponticum canarienseEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 In Tenerife. IUCN (2016) refers to this species as Stemmacantha cynaroides.
Santalum haleakalae var. lanaiense (Lanai sandalwood)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013 Lanai
Sicyos macrophyllusUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016 Hawaii island
Silene hawaiiensis (Hawaii catchfly)USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013 Hawaii island
Silene nocteolensCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)Canary IslandsHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Tenerife
Solanum incompletumCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006 Hawaii island
Solanum nelsonii (popolo)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015 Hawaii island
Tetramolopium remyi (Awalua Ridge tetramolopium)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995 Lanai
Viola lanaiensis (Hawaii violet)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995 Lanai
Zanthoxylum dipetalum var. tomentosumCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016 Hawaii island
Zanthoxylum hawaiienseEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)HawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingIUCN, 2016; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008 Hawaii island and Lanai

Social Impact

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In continental Europe the presence of the mouflon has generally had a positive social impact due to its inclusion as a new game species, and in most countries there has been no debate on its exotic origin; in a few of them a critical attitude by environmentalists has barely been put forward (e.g. Spain -- J. Cassinello, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Almería, Spain, personal observation). However, serious social conflicts have arisen in islands where mouflons have been introduced, due to the contrary opinions of hunters, who are in favour of their presence, and environmentalists, conservation biologists and farmers, who are against.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Interaction with other invasive species
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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The European mouflon is a widely distributed species that has been much used in research as a model to identify and analyse many issues related to ungulate behaviour and ecology (e.g.,Pfeffer, 1967; Bon et al., 1990; Gaillard et al., 1998; Langbein and Scheibe, 2001; Heroldová et al., 2007; Marchand et al., 2013), ungulate reproduction (e.g. Lincoln, 1990; 1998; Santiago-Moreno et al., 2001), invasive species effects on islands (e.g. Kaeuffer et al., 2010; Ikagawa, 2013), and ungulate interspecific competition (Miranda et al., 2012).

Economic Value

Hunting revenues can be boosted by the presence of the mouflon as a quarry species. In continental Europe its presence may well help in maintaining mosaic landscapes (see below under ‘Environmental Services’), which may indirectly benefit tourism and rural activities.

Social Benefit

The effects of mouflon in maintaining mosaic landscapes and their presence as a game species may be of social benefit.

Environmental Services

Mouflons are less gregarious than their close relatives the domestic sheep, so their effects on Mediterranean plant communities are not likely to be greater than that of domesticated sheep herds. Thus, in a broad sense, they could be considered to be native to the Mediterranean basin, and perhaps a grazing species of interest to preserve mountain meadows and pastures, where the decline of agriculture can increase fire risk and cause loss of biodiversity -- currently no other wild species native to the continent is as efficient as a grazer, apart from reintroduced populations of the European bison Bison bonasus (see Cassinello, 2012).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Landscape improvement
  • Wildlife habitat

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo
  • Research model
  • Sociocultural value
  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The European mouflon is related to all Asian mouflons (Ovis orientalis, Gmelin 1774), but it has a darker coat and smaller body size (Pfeffer, 1967).

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

Public awareness

Nowadays there is increasing public awareness of the risks of introduction of exotic species to ecosystems, but the presence of the European mouflon has rarely been associated with these issues in continental Europe. Its presence on islands, particularly Hawaii, the Kerguelen Islands and the Canary Islands, has resulted in acute environmental concern among different stakeholders, but it is still necessary to increase general public awareness of the negative impacts caused by this species in these environments.

Eradication

Eradication programmes for mouflon on islands and control of its populations in some European countries have occasionally been attempted, but apart from unforeseen local extinctions reported in countries such as Romania, no documented eradication programs have successfully been undertaken (see Apollonio et al., 2010a) except for the recent one in the Kerguelen Islands (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, 2013; Cooper, 2014). Eradication is a very difficult task with a species like this, with an open distribution across different habitats, and aloof behaviour in areas where it is hunted. Despite this, eradication programs in islands should be urgently implemented.

Control

Mouflons are subject to hunting in most of the countries where they are present (see Apollonio et al., 2010a). The population in the Kerguelen Islands was eradicated by shooting (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, 2013; Cooper, 2014). Promoting the presence of native large predators may also help in controlling mouflon populations.

Monitoring and Surveillance

Monitoring of mouflon population movements would need to be done by the use of radio-tracking or similar techniques.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Despite much research on mouflon ecology around the world, it would still be worth studying the effects of the species on plant ecosystems in continental Europe since, despite its exotic origin, its role as a wild grazer may benefit the restoration of mosaic landscapes (see Cassinello, 2012); on the other hand it might also threaten native vegetation and/or compete with native ungulates, but no conclusive data about this have been obtained so far (Cassinello, 2003).

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Organizations

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Spain: Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (EEZA), Ctra. de Sacramento s/n, La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120 Almería, http://www.eeza.csic.es

Principal Source

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Draft datasheet under review

Contributors

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21/09/2016 Original text by:

Jorge Cassinello, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (EEZA-CSIC), Ctra. de Sacramento s/n, La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120 Almería, Spain

Distribution Maps

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