Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Muntiacus gongshanensis was described from Yunnan province, south-western China (Ma et al. 1990), within which its distribution spans the latitudinal range of about 25°–28°10′N (Ma et al. 1994). It also occurs in Kachin state, northern Myanmar: there are several specimens over the latitudinal range of 26°46′N–28°10′N in NHM and FMNH (note specimens are not catalogued under the name M. gongshanensis; R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Recent reports by Rabinowitz et al. (1998) and Amato et al. (1999b, 2000), where M. gongshanensis was considered synonymous with M. crinifrons, presumably refer to this species (Grubb 2005), although insufficient morphological characters are given to allow a firm identification. However, from the same area come many recent camera-trap photographs morphologically consistent with M. gongshanensis, specifically from Hkakaborazi National Park and Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary, which lie within the specimen-validated latitudinal range (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on WCS Myanmar Programme unpublished data).

Gongshan muntjac also probably inhabits southeastern Tibet: Chen et al. (2007) reported animals from Modog and Damu counties, close to the China, India and Myanmar border, in the range 28°33′–29°29′N, 95°20′–97°05′E. They based their identification (as M. crinifrons) solely on mtDNA and no morphological voucher seems to be available (small pieces of pelt may have been preserved), and no characters were discussed other than that the pelt was dark. Specimen-based records, again as M. crinifrons with M. gongshanensis explicitly considered a synonym, from this general area were reported by Schaller and Rabinowitz (2004), from the rivers Pailong and Yigong (30°07′N, 95°02′E) and the Modog are to the south, and from near Zayu at 29°56′N, 94°48′E; again, no morphological characters were given sufficient to allow identification to species. Gongshan muntjac or another species (but not M. vaginalis) may also occur much further to the west, in India: Inglis (1952) referred to melanistic (“very dark brown”) muntjacs, sometimes almost black, in the Darjeeling district (27°02′N, 88°16′E); one was at this time mounted in the Darjeeling museum. Whether this specimen is still extant is unclear, and no analysis more substantial seems to have been published on these animals. Also in India, Johnsingh (2004) stated that Muntiacus crinifrons was discovered in Arunachal Pradesh; the actual location and basis for identification remain unpublished, but this seems more likely to refer to M. gongshanensis than to M. crinifrons (but again could also potentially refer to some other taxon such as one of the M. rooseveltorum species-complex).

Camera-trapping studies in Lao PDR and Viet Nam have many images not referable to northern red muntjac M. vaginalis or to large-antlered muntjac M. vuquangensis. Many are certainly of the M. rooseveltorum complex of species, but given the external similarity of some specimens of the later to M. gongshanensis, some photographs may in fact be M. gongshanensis or a closely related taxon (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on extensive examination of various camera-trapping programmes’ images). No certain specimen evidence has yet come to light which would support this.

In sum, if these records in Tibet, India and even Lao PDR and Viet Nam do refer to M. gongshanensis, they indicate a much wider geographic range than the so-far specimen-validated distribution in Gaoligongshan (Yunnan, China) and Kachin state (Myanmar).
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Geographic Range

Muntiacus gongshanensis can be found in Southern China, Tibet, Myanmar, and Northern Thailand.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )

  • Macdonald, D., S. Norris. 2001. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Barnes & Noble Inc.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Muntiacus gongshanensis has a dark, chestnut brown coat and may be conspecific with Muntiacus crinifrons, which resembles M. gongshanensis in appearance. Muntiacus gongshanensis has small, dagger like antlers, which are hidden in a tuft of reddish colored hair. Females can reach 57 to 61 centimeters in height, where males only reach 47 to 52 centimeters in height, both sexes weigh between 18 and 20 kilograms (Macdonald and Norris, 2001). However, a weight of 24 kilograms was reported for a male in one study (Schaller and Vrba, 1996).

Range mass: 18 to 24 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; ornamentation

  • Schaller, G., E. Vrba. 1996. Description of the giant muntjac (Megamunticus vuquangensis) in Laos. Journal of Mammalogy, 77: 675-683.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
M. gongshanensis has been camera-trapped between 1,250 and 2,750 m asl in Northern Myanmar (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on WCS Myanmar Programme unpublished data; Than Zaw pers. comm. 2006). A paratype was collected at 3,000 m asl in northwestern Yunnan (Ma et al. 1990). Specimens in the NHM and FMNH from northern Myanmar were reportedly taken between 900 and 1,850 m asl. Wang (1998) gave the species' elevation as 2,000 m asl, in alpine broadleaf forests, coniferous forests and mixed forests, and in Tibet it occurs at 1,800–2,600 m asl. Camera-trapped animals in Myanmar have been found from subtropical forests through temperate thick mountain forests up to Himalayan alpine shrubland (Than Zaw pers. comm. 2006). The Darjeeling area of India (where the species is not confirmed to occur) contains many rugged mountains, as do all other sites where the species is known or expected to occur. It is uncertain if M. gongshanensis is widely syntopic with other muntjac species. Camera-trap results from northern Myanmar suggest that it occurs largely above the altitudinal ranges of other species there (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on WCS Myanmar Programme unpublished data). No ecological separation between Gongshan and northern red muntjacs in the Gaoligongshan was discussed by Ma et al. (1994), but Schaller and Rabinowitz (2004) considered that red muntjac generally lived at lower altitudes than Gongshan muntjac in south-east Tibet. Gongshan muntjac’s use of degraded and fragmented forest has not been assessed.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Muntiacus gongshanensis prefers habitats with productive evergreen, lowland forests.

Habitat Regions: terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Not much has been reported on the food habits of M. gongshanensis. Most muntjac species are described as omnivorous, however, the closely related species, M. crinifrons, seems to be mainly herbivorous. A study of stomach contents showed that the diet is made up of fruits, twigs, and leaves.

Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Gongshan muntjacs are likely to be important in tree seed dispersal in their native ecosystems. They are also important prey for large predators, such as leopards.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation

Little is known about predation on Gongshan muntjacs, but humans are suspected of being important predators. In M. crinifrons dholes and leopards are important predators. Some species of Muntiacus flee from predators on well maintained trails and hide in dense undergrowth.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

No studies have been done on this topic for M. gongshanensis. However, M. crinifrons individuals use secretions from frontal and preorbital glands to mark territorial boundaries. They also use scents to indicate reproductive status. Muntiacus crinifrons uses visual signals. For instance, the white fur on the underside of the tail can be used to show a predator or an opponent that they have been detected. A raised frontal tuft can have the same meaning. Auditory signals may also be used, such as a barking sound used when a predator has been detected. Male M. reevesi use low postures and buzzing noises during courtship.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of M. gongshanensis is unknown. However, a wild, pregnant female M. crinifrons was captured at 11 years of age.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
11 (high) years.

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Reproduction

Reproduction behavior of M. gongshanensis is not documented, however, in Muntiacus reevesi, males demarcate and aggressively defend small territories against other males. These territories may overlap with several female territories.

Mating System: polygynous

Little is known about mating systems in M. gongshanensis. In their close relative, Muntiacus crinifrons, breeding occurs continuously throughout the year. They have no distinct breeding season and females may go into estrous before reaching full body size. In one study, it was found that some lactating females were carrying fetuses, indicating that post-partum estrous occurs in this species. Although the gestation period is not known for M. gongshanensis, in Muntiacus reevesi gestation lasts between 209 to 220 days. Typically a single young is born, twins are rare.

Breeding interval: Gongshan muntjac interbirth intervals are not known.

Breeding season: Gongshan muntjacs may breed throughout the year.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Range gestation period: 0 to 0.01 months.

Average weaning age: 2 months.

Average time to independence: 6 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 6 (low) months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 9 (low) months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous

Nothing is known about parental care in M. gongshanensis. In other species of Muntiacus, however, maturation progresses quickly and females can carry one developing young in the uterus while nursing another. Both sexes develop rapidly, becoming independent within 6 months after birth.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W. & Zaw, T.

Reviewer/s
Black, P.A. & Gonzalez, S. (Deer Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
M. gongshanensis is listed as Data Deficient mainly because of a general lack of data on muntjac populations within the potential, but very poorly clarified, range of this species, exacerbated by the widespread confusion over its diagnostic characteristics (and even validity as a species) which hamper determination of its distribution. It could certainly be threatened, especially if it were found to have a relatively small range, but it is more likely that its range is relatively large. It remains unclear how the species responds to hunting. If it is like northern red muntjac then it could sustain high levels of hunting, but there is no reason to assume either that it is so resilient or that it is not. Habitat degradation is increasing threat throughout its range but, again, there is no information on its effects on the species.

History
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
  • 1994
    Indeterminate
    (Groombridge 1994)
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Muntiacus gongshanensis numbers appear to be decreasing because of over hunting by local human populations. Gongshan muntjacs are considered data deficient, more research is needed to determine their conservation status.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: data deficient

  • Deer Specialist Group, 2006. "2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." (On-line). Accessed November 28, 2006 at www.iucnredlist.org.
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Population

Population
M. gongshanensis has been regularly captured by camera-trapping studies in appropriate habitat across a wide spread of sites within two protected areas in Kachin state, northern Myanmar; capture rates appear roughly equivalent for those of other muntjac species elsewhere in Myanmar and Asia, suggesting a large population which is well above criteria for threatened status (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on WCS Myanmar Programme unpublished data). Moreover, substantial areas of Kachin state in the altitudinal range known to be occupied by this species have not been surveyed by methods appropriate to find the species since the Vernay–Cutting Expedition (Anthony 1941). Overall population status depends to a significant degree on the geographic range of the taxon, which is poorly clarified at present, but is likely to be significantly larger than has so far been documented (see Distribution). There is no empirical evidence of population trends.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threat appears to be from hunting throughout the known range of the species. In Myanmar the species is hunted (non-specifically within general ungulate hunting) for meat, but also for skins which are used widely for clothing. In Hkakaborazi National Park, some hunting is by the relatively small number of permanent inhabitants of the park, who trade wildlife and plant products for basic livelihood support, such as salt. More serious are organised non-local heavily armed parties of professional poachers who enter the protected area for months at a time and hunt intensively to supply the wildlife trade. The numbers of such groups per year seem to be increasing. Hunting patterns in other areas supporting the species are not well known, but it is likely that anywhere in this region with a large population of ungulates remaining attracts heavy hunting from outsiders (Rabinowitz et al. 1998; Rabinowitz and Saw Tun Khaing 1998; Than Zaw pers. comm. 2006; J. W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2008). Heavy hunting pressure from hill tribes was reported from Yunnan Province (R. Wirth pers. comm. 1990), and although there are no current data available from China, hunting is thought to remain a major threat there. The Chinese population has been considered rare and small, and threatened by hunting (Wang 1998), but this assumes a far more limited distribution than is likely. Much of the Myanmar range is within an area which has seen remarkable stability of forest cover (Renner et al. 2007). However, this healthy situation may change in the near future, as some other forests of northern Kachin state (which have not been surveyed for the species, and so may hold, or have held, it) have recently been devastated (Eames 2007). Although habitat needs, and thus the effects of forest fragmentation and degradation are essentially unknown, it is unlikely that viable populations can survive outright forest conversion. It is also likely that in areas where forest is being fragmented, negative effects of hunting on populations of this muntjac are compounded and so populations decline, whatever intrinsic ability the species has to use fragmented areas. Protected area coverage, and retention of little-encroached habitat, is also relatively good in the Gaoligongshan of China at high altitudes (Lan and Dunbar 2000).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species has been found within two large protected areas in Myanmar, Hkakaborazi National Park and Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary (Than Zaw pers. comm. 2006); other areas of suitable habitat exist outside the protected area system in Myanmar but have not been surveyed using suitable methods. Neither have tracts of potentially suitable highlands in other proposed or declared protected areas such as Hukaung Tiger Reserve and Bumphabum Wildlife Sanctuary. The protected areas of Myanmar’s ‘Northern Forest Complex’ are evolving their management and full support is needed to ensure their success. This needs to tackle the issue of professional hunting parties as an urgent priority, and hunting by local inhabitants with sensitivity. It is known from two protected areas, Nujiang and Gaoligong reserves, in China, although it is not protected as a species there (Wang 1998).

A immediate need is to dispel the confusion surrounding this species' taxonomic validity, generated through inspection of part of its mtDNA, compounding the, to date, only weak discussions of its morphological distinctiveness, and to establish and communicate the diagnostic characteristics of the species. This requires re-evaluation of the types and other specimens in China, a review of as much modern material is available in Myanmar (specimens and photographs), and analysis of specimens held in internationally-accessible institutions (most or all of which are still catalogued under earlier names).

An analysis of sensitivity to hunting is needed, which should focus on the relative abundance of this and other muntjac species within heavily hunted areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Gongshan muntjacs do not negatively impact human economies.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Gongshan muntjacs are hunted by native populations for their meat, horns, and hides. They are also important members of healthy, native ecosystems.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material

  • Sheng, H., H. Lu. 1980. Current studies on the rare Chinese black muntjac. Journal of Natural History, 14: 803-807.
  • Rabinowitz, A., G. Amato, U. Saw Tun Khaing. 1998. Discovery of the Black Muntjac, Muntiacus crinifrons (Artiodactyla, Cervidae), in Northern Myanmar. Mammalia, 62: 105-108.
  • Rabinowitz, A., U. Khaing. 1998. Status of selected mammal species in North Myanmar. Oryx, 32/3: 201-208.
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Wikipedia

Gongshan muntjac

The Gongshan muntjac (Muntiacus gongshanensis)[3] is a species of muntjac (a type of deer) living in the Gongshan mountains in northwestern Yunnan, southeast Tibet and northern Myanmar. Recently, it has also been found to occur in Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.[4] The earlier references of occurrence of the hairy-fronted muntjac Muntiacus crinifrons in Arunachal Pradesh are actually Gongshan muntjakc.[5] More recently, genetic studies have shown it to be very closely related to the hairy-fronted muntjac, possibly close enough to be considered the same species despite different coloration, though this position is disputed.[1] Ongoing hunting is a major threat to its survival.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W. & Zaw, T. (2008). Muntiacus gongshanensis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is data deficient.
  2. ^ Ma, Shilai; Wang, Yingxiang; Shi, Liming (1990). "A new species of the genus Muntiacus from Yunnan, China". Zoological Research 11: 47–52. 
  3. ^ Grubb, P. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  4. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2009). Records and distribution of Gongshan and leaf muntjacs in India. Deer Specialist Group News 23: 2-7.
  5. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2003). The mammals of Arunachal Pradesh. Regency Publications, New Delhi. 140pp


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