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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

According to Chapman et al. (1983) this species existed only from Salina Cruz, Oaxaca to the extreme west of the State of Chiapas, Mexico. Recently, Tehuantepec hares have not been found in Chiapas (Retana and Lorenzo 2002). The area occupied in the past was apparently 150 km², but increasing clearance for agriculture is destroying most of its habitat. The former distribution of the Tehuantepec jackrabbit is not documented in detail, but Nelson (1909) estimated the leporid's historic range along the Mexican Pacific Coast on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from Salina Cruz in Oaxaca to Tonalá in Chiapas, as an area of perhaps only 5,000 km². Four populations of Tehuantepec hare persist, and the extent of occurrence is perhaps only 520 km². This hare inhabits altitudes at no more than 500 m.
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Ecology

Habitat

Southern Pacific Dry Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Southern Pacific dry forests ecoregion, which is situated along the southeastern versant of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains including the Pacific Ocean coastal plain. These forests are a key locus of endemism for butterflies, and has the greatest diversity of scorpions and spiders in the entirety of Mexico. This ecoregion is classified in the Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests biome. The Southern Pacific dry forests exhibit a moderate to high faunal species richness; for example, there are a total of 744 vertebrate taxa recorded in the ecoregion, with a particularly large number of endemic reptiles.

The ecoregion elevation ranges from sea level to 1400 metres. The climate is tropical and dry, with precipitation levels of 800 millimetres (mm) per annum. There is an extended arid season, which factor drives the prevalence of deciduous vegetation. The forests grow chiefly on shallow, well-drained soils derived from limestone. Closer to the base of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains, the soils are more rocky, and are derived from igneous rocks.

The dominant plant species include Mauto (Lysiloma divaricatum), Bursera excelsa and Fragrant Bursera (B. fagaroides), which are typically found in association with Pochote (Ceiba aesculifolia), Comocladia engleriana, and Trichilia americana. In the Mexican state of Michoacán, the macro plant species more generally in evidence are Ficus insipida, F. pertusa, Breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum), Licania arborea, Sideroxylon capiri and Elephant Ear (Enterolobium cyclocarpum).

There are a number of anuran species present in the ecoregion, including: Blunt-toed Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus modestus VU); Cloud Forest Stream Frog (Ptychohyla euthysanota NT), found from southeast Oaxaca to Guatemala and eastern El Salvador; Matuda's Spikethumb Frog  (Plectrohyla matudai VU). A special status caecilian found in the ecoregion is the Mexican Caecilian (Dermophis mexicanus VU), a fossorial species that can attain lengths up to sixty centimetres. A special status salamander found in the ecoregion is the Sierra Juarez Salamander (Pseudoeurycea juarezi CR), a near-endemic known only between Cerro Pelón and Vista Hermosa in the Sierra de Juarez, north-central Oaxaca. The White-lipped Peeping Frog (Eleutherodactylus albolabris CR), a near-endemic known chiefly from Agua del Obispo, central Guerrero.

The Southern Pacific dry forests contain numerous reptilian taxa, including the following endemics: Bocourt's Anole (Norops baccatus); Taylor's Anole (Norops taylori), known only to  Puerto Marquez area, in northern Acapulco, Guerrero; Simmons' Anole (Anolis simmonsi), restricted to the vicinity of Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca; Stegneger's Blackcollar Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus stejnegeri), restricted to the Pacific versant in the state of Guerrero, Mexico; Red Earth Snake (Geophis russatus), found in a very narrow range outside of Putla, Oaxaca; Sierra Mije Earth Snake (Geophis anocularis), known only from around Totontepec on the Atlantic versant of the Sierra Mixe, Oaxaca; Ramirez`s Hooknose Snake (Ficimia ramirezi), restricted to the Pacific versant of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Niltepec, Oaxaca; Halberg's Cloud Forest Snake (Cryophis hallbergi), found only in northern Oaxaca, at Sierra de Juarez and Sierra Mazateca; Isthmian Earth Snake (Geophis isthmicus), known only from the vicinity of Tehuantepec, Mexico; the endemic Macdougall's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus macdougalli).

Characteristic mammalian fauna include the endemic Oaxacan Pocket Gopher (Orthogeomys cuniculus), restricted to several sites on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. Other mammals seen in the ecoregion include the: Lesser Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae VU), Tropical Hare (Lepus flavigularis EN), restricted to Salina Cruz, Oaxaca to the extreme west of  Chiapas; Greater Bulldog Bat (Noctilio leporinus), Coati (Nasua narica), Buller’s Pocket Gopher (Pappogeomys bulleri), Javelina (Tayassu tajacu), and Mexican Long-tongued Bat (Choeronycteris mexicana NT).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
At present, this jackrabbit is restricted to grasslands with open shrub and tree cover, and coastal grassy dunes which never exceed a 4-5 km wide strip along the shores of salt water lagoons on the north side of the Gulf of Tehuantepec. It co-exists with the eastern cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus and is crepuscular and nocturnal. Tropical dry savannas of native grasses with an over story of sparse bushes (Byrsonima crassifolia, Opuntia decumbens, Opuntia tehuantepecana), and scattered trees (Crescentia spp.) are the vegetation communities selected by Tehuantepec jackrabbits. Tehuantepec jackrabbits are also found in coastal grassy dunes with Sabal mexicana. Grasses in savannas and coastal dunes are dominated by Paspalum and Bouteloua. Annual home range and core area sizes averaged 55.5 ha (range 27.6-99.7 ha) and 8.5 ha (range 2.1-13.3 ha) for adult jackrabbits of both sexes (n=10) using the 95% and 50% fixed kernal isopleths, respectively. Similar home range size between sexes and home range overlap with more than one individual suggest that Tehuantepec hares have a polygamous mating system and a non-territorial social organization. The length of the breeding season may extend from February to December, with a peak in reproduction during the rainy season (from May to October). Mean litter size is two, with a range of one to four embryos (Farías pers. comm.). Data are from museum specimens of Tehuantepec jackrabbits at the Colección Nacional de Mamíferos from the Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México of females that were pregnant (Farías pers. comm.). The total length is 59.5 cm (Hall and Kelson 1959). This species reaches maturity at six to seven months for both sexes (Farías 2004).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lepus flavigularis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2b+3c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v); C1; D

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Cervantes, F.A., Lorenzo, C., Farías, V. & Vargas, J.

Reviewer/s
Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
There has been a population reduction of greater than 50% where the causes are a decline in extent of occurrence and habitat quality; the causes of reduction have not ceased. Extent of occurrence is perhaps only 520 km² and area of occupancy is less than 100 km² (possibly only 67 km²). There are only four separated and small populations of Tehuantepec jackrabbit. Ongoing decline in the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, area and quality of habitat, and number of mature individuals of Tehuantepec jackrabbit threatens this species. Total population size is estimated as less than 1000 individuals.

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Population

Population
Population size is estimated as less than 1,000 individuals. The four populations are rare and all are isolated from each other.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The species' habitat is threatened by encroaching agriculture as the local human population expands. In addition, the species is shot by numerous parties of hunters coming from cities up to 200 km away to shoot deer by spotlighting at night. The extent of occurrence of Tehuantepec jackrabbits is jeopardized by habitat alteration and degradation by introduction of exotic grasses, human-induced fires, agriculture, cattle-raising activities, and human settlements in savannas. Predation was the major cause of mortality for radio-marked jackrabbits and accounted for 94% of juvenile deaths and 67% of adult deaths during a 29 month study. Human-induced fires in the savanna accounted for 20% of adult deaths. Poaching accounted for 13% of adult deaths, and for 6% of juvenile deaths. There is also low genetic variation. Habitat reduction has been estimated at 8-29% over the last 24 years (Cuáron and de Grammont pers. comm.).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The Tehuantepec jackrabbit is listed as critically endangered in the Mexican Official Norm NOM-059-ECOL-2001. Conservation laws are not enforced by local authorities in Oaxaca, Mexico.
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Wikipedia

Tehuantepec jackrabbit

The Tehuantepec Jackrabbit (Lepus flavigularis) is easily distinguished from other species of jackrabbits by two black stripes that run from the base of the ears to the nape, and by its white flanks.[3] Underparts are white, upperparts are bright-brown washed with black, rump is gray, and the tail is black. This leporid is one of the largest jackrabbits and has large ears and legs. Adults weigh about 3500 to 4000 grams.

Distribution[edit]

The Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is a rare endemic of Oaxaca, México, and is only found along savannas and grassy dunes on the shores of a salt water lagoon connected to the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Three small populations persist isolated from each other.

The former distribution of the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is not documented in detail, but it is estimated that the leporid's historic geographic range along the Mexican Pacific Coast on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from Salina Cruz in Oaxaca to Tonalá in Chiapas, an area of perhaps only 5000 km sq.[4]

Habitat and Ecology[edit]

Tropical dry savannas dominated by native grasses (Bouteloua, Paspalum) with an overstory of sparse bushes of nanche (Byrsonima crassifolia), and scattered trees of morro (Crescentia) are selected by the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit.[5] The Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is also found in coastal grassy dunes with Opuntia decumbens, Opuntia tehuantepecana, and Sabal mexicana.[6]

Home ranges overlap with one or more individuals regardless of sex and age, and home range size is about 50 ha with core areas of 9 ha for adult jackrabbits.[5] The Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is nocturnal and crepuscular, and during the diurnal hours it rests in forms under bushes or grasses.

Native mammals that coexist with the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit are the Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), the Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), the Hooded and Western Hog-nosed Skunks (Mephitis macroura, Conepatus mesoleucus), the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis marsupialis), the Gray Mouse Opossum (Tlacuatzin canescens), the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), the Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor), and the Coyote (Canis latrans).[7] Of these, the Gray Fox and the Coyote are native predators of the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit.

Reproduction[edit]

The length of the breeding season may extend from February to December, with a peak in reproduction during the rainy season (from May to October). Litter size is one to four embryos,[8] but the number of litters produced per female per year remains to be investigated.

Conservation[edit]

The Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is listed as critically endangered in the Mexican Official Norm NOM-059-ECOL-2001, and as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.

Threats[edit]

The Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is jeopardized by habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, small population size, and genetic isolation. Introduction of exotic grasses, frequent and induced fires, agricultural and cattle-raising activities, and human settlements are deteriorating the floristic diversity and native vegetation structure in savannas inhabited by Tehuantepec jackrabbits.[5][9] Locally, the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit is taken occasionally as subsistence hunting, and very occasionally as pets in rural communities. Predation by the Gray Fox and the Coyote is the major cause of mortality of the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit.[5] However, poachers may come from nearby cities and decimate populations in a few nights of hunting.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffman, R. S.; Smith, A. T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Cervantes, F. A., Lorenzo, C., Farías, V. & Vargas, J. (2008). "Lepus flavigularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 24 Feb 2011. 
  3. ^ Flux, J. E. C., and R. Angermann (1990). "The hares and jackrabbits". In Chapman, J. A. and J. E. C. Flux, eds. Rabbits, hares, and pikas. Status survey and conservation action plan. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. pp. 61–94. 
  4. ^ Nelson, E. W. (1909). "The rabbits of North America". North American Fauna 29: 9–287. doi:10.3996/nafa.29.0001. 
  5. ^ a b c d Farías, V. 2004. Spatio-temporal ecology and habitat selection of the critically endangered tropical hare (Lepus flavigularis) in Oaxaca, Mexico. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  6. ^ Vargas, J. (2000). "Distribución, abundancia y hábitat de la liebre endémica Lepus flavigularis (Mammalia: Lagomorpha)". Tesis de Maestría en Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. México, D. F., México. 
  7. ^ Cervantes, F. A., and L. Yépez (1995). "Species richness of mammals from the vicinity of Salina Cruz, coastal Oaxaca, Mexico". Anales del Instituto de Biología Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Serie Zoología 66: 113–122. 
  8. ^ Cervantes, F. A. (1993). "Lepus flavigularis". Mammalian Species (American Society of Mammalogists) 423 (423): 1–3. doi:10.2307/3504288. JSTOR 3504288. 
  9. ^ Pérez-García, E. A., J. Meave, and C. Gallardo (2001). "Vegetación y Flora de la Región de Nizanda, Istmo de Tehuatnepec, Oaxaca, México". Acta Botánica Mexicana 56: 19–88. 
  • Cervantes, F. A., and C. Lorenzo. 1997. Morphometric differentiation of rabbits (Sylvilagus and Romerolagus) and jackrabbits (Lepus) of Mexico. Gibier Faune Sauvage 14:405-425.
  • Sántis, E. C. 2002. Distribución y abundancia de la liebre endémica Lepus flavigularis y el conejo castellano Sylvilagus floridanus (Mammalia: Lagomorpha) en el Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, México. Tesis de Licenciado en Biología. Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, México.
  • Vargas, Z. 2001. Valoración de los vertebrados terrestres por los huaves y zapotecas de la zona lagunar del Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. Tesis de Maestría. El Colegio de la Frontera Sur. Chiapas, México.
  • Villa, B., and F. A. Cervantes. 2003. Los mamíferos de México. Iberoamericana. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. México, D. F. 140 pp. and CD-rom.
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