Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 47:56–58; 2016


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Three species of short-tailed shrews (genus Bla- rina) occur throughout the eastern one-half of the United States and southern Canada. B. brevicauda is the most widely distributed, ranging from the Atlantic ocean to the western Great Plains. B. carolinensis occurs throughout the southeastern U.S., and B. hylophaga is found in the southern plains states. The current understanding of the geographic distributions of these species is based primarily on morphol- ogy; size is the primary characteristic used for identifica- tion with B. brevicauda the largest and B. carolinensis the smallest.

The only states in which all three species have been reported are Oklahoma and Missouri. Until recently, it was thought that B. brevicauda in Missouri occurred only in the northern one-third of the state and that B. hylophaga occurred in the southern three-fourths of the state, with the two species being broadly sympatric (Moncrief et al. 1982). Thompson et al. (2011), using genetic analyses, demonstrated that the two species are not sympatric in northern Missouri, but rather are parapatric. Subsequently, Pfau et al. (2011) and Pfau and Braun (2013), also using genetic analyses, documented the occurrence of B. brevicauda in northwestern Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma. Before these observations, it was thought that B. hylophaga was the species that occurred in northwestern Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma.