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Mammals of Doñana

By José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

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The mammals in Doñana can be considered as the classic representatives of the predominant types of ecosystems in the Natural Area: the Mediterranean forest and the seasonal continental marshland. 38 species of mammals have been recorded in Doñana.


01.- Gray wolf – Canis lupus (Linnaeus, 1758). Extint.
Harassed by man to extinction in Doñana, there are numerous references to its presence in the area; the last specimens appeared to come from the nearby mountains in the north of the province. The last specimen was killed at La Algaida in 1951 by the warden José Chico.

02.- Iberian lynx – Lynx pardinus (Temminck, 1827)
The Iberian lynx is cataloged by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as the world’s most endangered feline. In fact, this animal lives only in the Iberian peninsula where, according to the latest census, there are only some 320 specimens left, distributed in 4 populations, the one of Doñana and that of Sierra Morena, divided into 3 nucleus: Andújar (Jaén – Córdoba), to which should be added the recent populations at Guadalmellato (Córdoba) and Guarrizas (Jaén) created in recent years with animals released from other populations and captive breeding centers. In 2014 some lynx have been released to create new nucleus at Extremadura and Castilla La Mancha regions and also in the south of Portugal.

The Iberian lynx is a rabbit specialist with a low ability to adapt its diet. A sharp drop in the population of its main food source, a result of two diseases, contributed to the feline’s decline. The lynx was also affected by the loss of scrubland, its main habitat, to human development, including changes in land use and the construction of roads and dams. Captive breeding and reintroduction programs have boosted their numbers. As of 2014, Andalusia has a population of about 325 living in the wild. As an attempt to save this species from extinction, an EU LIFE Nature project is underway that includes habitat preservation, lynx population monitoring, and rabbit population management.

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03.- WildcatFelis silvestris silvestris (Schreber, 1775)
It is believed that the European population is on the decline but, perhaps because of the difficulty of its study, it is includeded in the IUCN Red List with a cautious but ambiguous “threatened”. The range of the Eurasian wildcat covers Europe, Middle East, South and Central Asia and much of Africa. European subspecies (Felis silvestris silvestris) is distributed from the Caucasus and Asia Minor, across central and southern Europe, reaching the north to Scotland and near the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

According to Miguel Delibes, thanks to a recent genetic study conducted in 2007 and published in the journal Science, all European Wildcats seem to come from a population that found refuge in the Iberian Peninsula in the Ice Age.

In Doñana this species is scarce, probably due to the presence of a larger predator like the Iberian lynx.

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04.- Red foxVulpes vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758)
There are numerous local races and subspecies of foxes. Between countries and geographic areas also varies the color of the coat. The Spanish race offers gray, brown and reddish tinges, while that of Central Europe is more reddish brown and in countries such as Morocco is brighter red, but the legs and the outside of the ears are always more or less intense black and the tail usually shows a black or white spot to the tip.

It is the most abundant predator in Doñana, having a much more homogeneous distribution than other predator mammals, being present in almost all habitats in the Doñana Park.

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05.- BadgerMeles meles (Linnaeus, 1758 – Abramov 2002)
Unlike other species of small to medium sized carnivores, they seem no to elude the areas inhabited by lynx, as in Doñana where it is not rare to find badger signs in lynx areas.
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06.- OtterLutra lutra lutra (Linnaeus, 1758 – Pocock 1941)
The expansion of the American crayfish Procambarus clarkii in Doñana has has helped to increase their populations around the Park, where they represent a good percentage of their diet, especially in summer.
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07.- PolecatMustela putorius (Linnaeus, 1758)
It used to be common in Western Europe before having been commonly hunted for sport and for their fur and hunted as a pest, however this threat has become less serious due to the protection of the species in a number of countries and the reduction of hunting. The species is in clear decline in Spain.
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08.- Least weaselMustela nivalis boccamela (Linnaeus, 1766 – Wilson y Mittermeier, 2009).
Widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia and much of North America. Curiously, its size increases from north to south in opposite direction to Bergmann’s rule. It is the smallest carnivore in our latitudes. Their fur is light brown on the back and white on the belly area. In Spain the coat remains unchanged, but in northern and eastern Europe, and North America, the fur turns white in winter.
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09.- GenetGenetta genetta (Linnaeus, 1758)
Species introduced by humans from Africa, recent genetic studies indicate that they came from North Africa, probably Algeria. Its distribution area in Europe includes the Iberian Peninsula and much of France. Its footprint is distinguished from domestic cat by its asymmetry. Displaced by the Iberian lynx in Doñana in potentially appropriate hátitats.
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10.- Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758)
Species that arrived in Europe from Africa. Recent phylogeographic studies show that the Iberian populations have high genetic differentiation with respect to North African populations, suggesting that they crossed the Gibraltar Strait during fluctuations in the sea level that occurred in the late Pleistocene, which rejects the theory of man introduction in historical times. Currently the range of mongoose in Europe is restricted mainly to the southwest quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula.
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11.- DromedaryCamelus dromedarius (Linnaeus, 1758). Extint.
They were introduced from the Canary Islands by the Marquis of Villafranca in 1830 as pack animals. They got to naturalize and reproduce in the wild. Last dromedaries of Doñana died in the 80s.

12.- Red deerCervus elaphus hispanicus (Linnaeus, 1758 – Hilzheimer 1909).
The Iberian subspecies, only present in Spain and Portugal, is well differentiated from the rest of the twelve subspecies distributed across Eurasia and North Africa. It is characterized by its size smaller than the nominal subspecies, greyer coloration and smaller skull size. In some Spanish nucleus may occur specimens belonging to other subspecies of cervus elaphus or hybrids of them with the Iberian subspecies, as a result of introductions for hunting that seriously compromise the conservation of the Iberian red deer.

Young deer may be occasionally preyed upon by the Iberian lynx when no other more suitable prey is available.
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13.- Fallow deerDama dama (Linnaeus, 1758).
Although there are evidences of its existence in Doñana during the Middle Age, it is not known if they came to disappear altogether or not, but there are records of reintroductions in the early twentieth century. Their mating season in Doñana occurs from late September to late October.

Iberian Lynx predate occasionally on females and young.
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14.- Wild boarSus scrofa baeticus (Linnaeus, 1758 – Thomas, 1912).
Wild boars from the Iberian Peninsula are normally smaller than the European ones. There are also geographic variations within the peninsula and size and weight decrease towards south. The baeticus subspecies is found only in the southern Iberian Peninsula.
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15.- Wood mouseApodemus sylvaticus (Linnaeus, 1758).
The most abundant micro mammal in Doñana.
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16.- Algerian mouse Mus spretus (Lataste, 1883).
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17.- House mouseMus musculus (Linnaeus, 1758).
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18.- Black ratRattus rattus (Linnaeus, 1758).

19.- Brown ratRattus norvegicus (Berkenhout, 1769).

20.- Mediterranean pine voleMicrotus duodecimcostatus (Selys-Longchamps, 1839).
Restricted to the Iberian Peninsula and southwest France.

21.- Southwestern water voleArvícola sapidus sapidus (Miller, 1908).
Subespecies restricted to Portugal and southern Spain.
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22.- Garden dormouseEliomys quercinus lusitanicus (Linnaeus, 1766).
Subespecies restricted to the southwestern quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula subspecies. Today it is a rare species in Doñana but in the past was a part of Iberian lynx diet.
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23.- Granada or Iberian hareLepus granatensis granatensis (Rosenhauer, 1856). Iberian endemism.
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24.- European rabbitOryctolagus cuniculus algirus (Linnaeus, 1758).
Their populations have declined in Doñana around 90% in the last 20 years mainly because of two viral diseases, myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic-disease with subsequent disastrous consequences for predators such as the Imperial Eagle or the Iberian Lynx base whose diet is based on it.


25.- European hedgehogErinaceus europaeus (Linnaeus, 1758).

26.- Greater white-toothed shrewCrocidura russula (Hermann, 1780).

27.- Lesser white-toothed shrew Crocidura suaveolens (Pallas, 1811).
A line of research at the University of Huelva, led by Professor of Zoology Javier Calzada Samperio, has found in this province a shrew who, sharing similarities with this one, presents a number of features that makes it unique in the world; it has been called Marsh Shrew.

28.- Etruscan shrewSuncus etruscus (Savi, 1822).


29.- Greater horseshoe batRhinolophus ferrumequinum (Schreber, 1774).

30.- Mehely’s horseshoe batRhinolophus mehelyi (Matschie, 1901).
A species declining in Western Europe and restricted to the south of the Iberian Peninsula.

31.- Lesser mouse-eared batMyotis blythii oxygnathus (Tomes, 1857).

32.- Geoffroy’s bat Myotis emarginatus (É. Geoffroy, 1806).

33.- Daubenton’s batMyotis daubentoni (Kuhl, 1817).

34.- Common pipistrellePipistrellus pipistrellus (Schreber, 1774).

35.- Kuhl’s pipistrellePipistrellus kuhli (Kuhl, 1817).

36.- Serotine batEptesicus serotinus (Schreber, 1774).

37.- Greater noctule batNyctalus lasiopterus (Schreber, 1780).

38.- Lesser noctuleNyctalus leisleri (Kuhl, 1817).

39.- Common bent-wing batMiniopterus schreibersii (Kuhl, 1817).
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40.- European free-tailed batTadarida teniotis (Rafinesque, 1814).
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41.- Common minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata (Lacépéde, 1804).

42.- Bryde’s whaleBalaenoptera edeni (Linnaeus, 1758).

43.- Fin whaleBalaenoptera physalus (Anderson, 1879).

44.- Short-beaked common dolphinDelphinus delphis (Gray, 1828).

45.- Long-finned pilot whale Globicephala melas (Traill, 1809).

46.- Risso’s dolphinGrampus griseus (G.Cuvier, 1812).

47.- Striped dolphinStenella coeruleoalba (Meyen, 1833).

48.- Common bottlenose dolphinTursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821).

49.- Harbour porpoisePhocoena phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758).

50.- Pygmy sperm whaleKogia breviceps (Blainville, 1838).

51.- Dwarf sperm whaleKogia simus (Owen, 1866).

52.- Sperm whalePhyseter macrocephalus (Linnaeus, 1758).

53.- Gervais’ beaked whaleMesoplodon europaeus (Gervais, 1855).

54.- Blainville’s beaked whaleMesoplodon densirostris (Gray, 1865).

Source of the list: Mamíferos del Parque Nacional de Doñana, Blanca Ramos and Ramón C. Soriger. Included as a chapter in the book Parque Nacional de Doñana. (Canseco Editores. 2003).
See the publication in Spanish and the list of species in the pulication Informe sobre la Biodiversidad de Doñana (CSIC-AOPN 2006)


About José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

José Antonio Sánchez se licenció en Biología por la Universidad de Sevilla en 1985. Más tarde, durante varios años, se dedicó a organizar y guiar rutas de senderismo y naturaleza ...