Map-A-Mole: Greenspace Area Influences the Presence and Abundance of the European Mole Talpa europaea in Urban Habitats

Mark D. E. Fellowes, Kojo Acquaah-Harrison, Fabio Angeoletto, Jeater Santos, Deleon da Silva Leandro , Elise Rocha, Tara J. Pirie, Rebecca L. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The European mole Talpa europaea is common across much of Britain. It has a unique fossorial lifestyle, and evidence of its presence is readily identified through the presence of characteristic molehills. Although molehills are often a common sight in urban greenspaces, moles are remarkably understudied, with very few studies to date exploring the urban ecology of moles. Here, we investigate if factors such as greenspace (largely urban parks and playing fields) area, intensity of management, distance to nearest patch, amount of time the patch had been isolated from other green patches, and the amount of urbanization (constructed surfaces) surrounding the patch, influence the distribution and abundance of urban moles. Mole signs (hills and surface runs) were counted in all discrete urban greenspaces (excluding domestic gardens and one private golf course) within an 89.5 km2 area in the UK town of Reading. We found that 17 out of 59 surveyed sites contained moles, with their presence being recorded in greenspaces with a minimum patch area of approximately 0.1 km2 (10 ha). Where present, the abundance of mole territories in the greenspaces was associated with both the area of greenspace and degree of urbanization within 150 m of the patch boundary. While the former was not surprising, the latter outcome may be a consequence of sites with an increased risk of flooding being home to fewer moles, and the surrounding area is also less likely to be built upon. This case study highlights how choices made in designing urban green infrastructure will determine which species survive in urban areas long into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1097
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2020


  • urban ecology; urban planning; urban greening; urban biodiversity; mammal; habitat management; species area relationships

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