Overview

Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

Original Description/Nomenclature

Paradoxurus jerdoni

  • Ommer, N P (1998) Checklist of Indian Mammals. Kerala Forest Department (Wildlife Wing)
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Summary

Principal Habitat

Wet forests

  • Ommer, N P (1998) Checklist of Indian Mammals. Kerala Forest Department (Wildlife Wing)
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Distribution

Endemic to tropical rainforests along the western coast of India, brown palm civets or Jerdon’s palm civets (Paradoxurus jerdoni) are usually found in high altitudes of the Western Ghats mountain range, 21 °N to 8 °N.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Mudappa, D., B. Noon, A. Kumar, R. Chellam. 2007. Responses of small carnivores to rainforest fragmentation in the southern Western Ghats, India. Small Carnivore Conservation, 36: 18-26.
  • Nameer, P., S. Molur, S. Walker. 2001. Mammals of Western Ghats: A simplistic overview. Zoos' Print Journal, 16(11): 629-639.
  • Patou, M., A. Wilting, P. Gaubert, J. Esselstyn, C. Cruaud, A. Jennings, J. Fickel, G. Veron. 2010. Evolutionary history of the Paradoxurus palm civets - a new model for Asian biogeography. Journal of Biogeography, 37: 2077-2097.
  • Rajamani, N., D. Mudappa, H. Van Rompaey. 2002. Distribution and status of the Brown Palm Civet in the Western Ghats, South India. The Newsletter and Journal of the IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid & Procyonid Specialist Group, 27: 6-11.
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Range Description

This species is found in southern India (Wilson and Reeder, 2005), where it is found in the Western Ghats (Pocock 1939, Corbet and Hill 1992, Mudappa 1998).The distribution of this species has been poorly documented due to its nocturnal and arboreal habits (Rajamani et al, 2002).
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Endemic Distribution

"
Occurrence is States along Western Ghats

Kerala,Tamilnadu,Karnataka

Occurrence in Latitudes degrees N

8-9,9-10,10-11,11-12,12-13

"
  • Ommer, N P (1998) Checklist of Indian Mammals. Kerala Forest Department (Wildlife Wing)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Paradoxurus jerdoni has not been studied extensively so there is still very little known about this species. Museum specimens of brown palm civets have pale buff, light brown, or dark brown pelage and a dark tail. Occasionally, the tail may have a white or pale yellow tip. Unlike other civets, P. jerdoni has no distinct markings on its face. The characteristic that distinguishes them from common palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) is the reverse direction of hair growth at their neck line. Measurements from a limited number of museum specimens give a body length of 430 to 620 mm and a tail length of 380 to 530 mm. A small study including seven individuals found a weight range of 1.2 to 3.5 kg. Any difference between the sexes, or sexual dimorphism, was not described in the literature.

Members of family Viverridae are characterized by a long and lean body, with short legs and a bushy tail nearly as long as their body. Generally, members of this family have an elongated head, pointed muzzle and a dental formula of 3/3, 1/1, 3-4/3-4, 1-2/1-2, including a carnassial pair. The first digit on the fore- and hind foot in this family is often reduced or lacking, creating a digital formula of 5/5, 5/4, or 4/4 (number of digits on forefoot/number of digits on hind foot) and their claws can be retractile or non-retractile. Palm civets are well adapted to their arboreal lifestyle, with traction pads on their hind feet and hook-like claws on their medial toes, to aid in climbing. Female viverrids generally have two to three pairs of mammae on their abdomen, but some forms may have only one pair. Males have a baculum.

Range mass: 1.2 to 3.5 kg.

Range length: 430 to 620 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Mudappa, D., R. Chellam. 2001. Capture and immobilization of Wild Brown Palm Civets in Western Ghats. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 37(2): 383-386.
  • Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2011. Mammalogy. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.
  • Walker, E., F. Warnick, S. Hamlet, K. Lange, M. Davis, H. Uible, P. Wright. 1964. Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.
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Ecology

Habitat

Brown palm civets are nocturnal, arboreal, small carnivores that thrive in the high altitude tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats in India. Brown palm civets prefer an altitudinal range of 500 to 1,300 m. This region receives an annual rainfall of approximately 1,500 mm in the eastern slopes, to over 3,000 mm in the western slopes. Throughout the year, the temperature ranges from 19°C in January, to 24°C in April and May. Humidity also varies throughout the year, from 60% in March, to 97% in November and December. Due to continuous human development in this region, brown palm civets are exposed to an increasing amount of habitat fragmentation. Large plantations of coffee, cardamom, and tea, fragment brown palm civets' habitat and introduce exotic food sources into their diet.

Range elevation: 500 to 1300 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Mudappa, D., A. Kumar, R. Chellam. 2010. Diet and fruit choice of the brown palm civet Paradoxurus jerdoni, a viverrid endemic to the Western Ghats rainforest, India. Tropical Conservation Science, 3(3): 282-300.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It has been recorded in evergreen forest and occasionally in coffee plantations (Rajamani et al, 2002). It was most common in altitudes above 1,000 m, though they were seen as low as 700 m (Mudappa, 2002).

It is largely arboreal and nocturnal, and mainly frugivorous, feeding on nearly 40 rainforest tree and liana fruit species, though it does supplement its diet with birds, rodents, and insescts (Pocock 1939). It is often found in coffee plantations (Pocock 1939). This species is often sighted in elevated (above 500 m) moist forest (Ashraf et al, 1993). It is nocturnal and predominantly arboreal, but is often found on the ground, as indicated by success in trapping and camera trapping (Mudappa, 2002). It is known mostly from tropical rainforests (Rajamani et al, 2002), but has been recorded from coffee estates in Coorg and Anamalais (Ryley, 1913; Ashraf et al, 1993; Mudappa, 2001). In a survey conducted in the Western Ghats in 2001-02, all 23 sightings of this species were in evergreen forests, including five in high altitude montane evergreen forest or sholas (Rajamani et al, 2002). It was recorded in both undisturbed, large patches of contiguous forest, as well as in fragments surrounded by plantations of tea, and human habitations (Rajamani et al, 2002). They were recorded on forest trails and along main roads, often exposed to traffic (Rajamani et al, 2002). Rajamani et al (2002) found that this species may be more dependent on the structure and floristics of forests, rather than on altitude.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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General Habitat

Principal Habitat

Wet forests

  • Ommer, N P (1998) Checklist of Indian Mammals. Kerala Forest Department (Wildlife Wing)
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Trophic Strategy

Paradoxurus jerdoni is predominantly frugivorous, foraging over a wide range, but has one of the smallest diet ranges among South Asia’s small carnivores. Brown palm civets are considered the most frugivorous species in family Viverridae, with a diet consisting of 97% fruit. They consume fruit that is predominately small (less than 1 cm in diameter), multi-seeded, pulpy berries and drupes, with moderate to high water content. Their diet consists largely of native fruit species and some exotic fruits, such as bananas, cardamoms, coffee, and guavas. When fruit availability is low, they also supplement their diet with some invertebrates (insects, millipedes, centipedes, snails and crabs) and rarely with small vertebrates (rodents, other small mammals, birds, and reptiles). Their “unspecialized” digestive system, characteristic of carnivores, and opportunistic feeding strategy, gives them the unique ability to cope with fluctuations in food availability.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; insects; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Associations

Paradoxurus jerdoni specializes in seed dispersal. With a diet predominately composed of fruit, viverrids are considered among the most important mammalian seed dispersers in the forests throughout Asia. The wide foraging range and unspecialized digestive system of brown palm civets allows them to carry seeds away from parent trees and deposit them in other sites, after passing through their digestive tract. The seeds remain relatively undamaged with germination viability intact, or sometimes enhanced.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Known predators of brown palm civets include larger diurnal predators within the system. Predators of P. jerdoni include pythons, black eagles, and leopards.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Modes of communication have not yet been studied for brown palm civets and there is no general information available for the viverrid family.

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of P. jerdoni is not currently known, but most members in family Viverridae live 5 to 15 years in the wild.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
5 to 15 years.

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Reproduction

The specific mating behaviors of this species have not yet been studied.

Currently, there is no information on the general reproductive behavior of brown palm civets. For members of family Viverridae, the breeding season is in spring, summer, or throughout the year. The age of sexual maturity is not currently known for this family. Once sexual maturity is reached, many genera will produce two litters per year, with 1 to 6 offspring per litter. Very few gestation periods are known for members of this family. Offspring are born blind, but with hair.

Within genus Paradoxurus, females will most likely give birth to more than one litter of two to four young throughout the year.

Breeding interval: Members of genus Paradoxurus often breed more than once per year.

Breeding season: Members of genus Paradoxurus often breed throughout the year.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 4.

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

The amount of parental care given by this species is not known at this time. But as viverrid young are born blind and relatively defenseless, it is assumed that some parental care is involved.

Parental Investment: altricial

  • Walker, E., F. Warnick, S. Hamlet, K. Lange, M. Davis, H. Uible, P. Wright. 1964. Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Brown palm civets are listed as a species of Least Concern under the IUCN Red List and under CITES Appendix III, due to its abundance within disturbed and fragmented areas. With a highly restricted distribution, continuous habitat loss and fragmentation, the adaptability of P. jerdoni is constantly tested and, for the moment, they seem to be thriving. But the scarcity of information and studies specific to this species leaves some concern over the status of the population in some areas of their range.

Brown palm civets, while elusive for most researchers, are not without a wide range of threats. While P. jerdoni may thrive around coffee and cardamom plantations, the conversion to tea does not support quality habitat or food for civets. Habitat is also lost due to mining activities and hydroelectric projects throughout the Western Ghats. While brown palm civets can adapt and persist in a fragmented habitat, they are not without dangers, such as risk of road kill due to crossing roads between fragments, or increasing human intrusions into the forest and changes in habitat structure.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix iii

State of Michigan List: no special status

  • Ashraf, N., A. Kumar, A. Johnsingh. 1993. Two endemic viverrids of the Western Ghats, India. Oryx, 27: 109-114.
  • Mudappa, D., A. Choudbury. 2008. "Paradoxurus jerdoni" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 2012.2. Accessed November 01, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/16104/0.
  • Pillay, R. 2009. Observations of small carnivores in the southern Western Ghats, India. Small Carnivore Conservation, 40: 36-40.
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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Muddapa D. & Choudbury, A.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern because in view of its abundance within highly disturbed and fragmented areas, with many animals living in plantation-dominated landscapes, and its large population known from surveys in several areas. However this species has a restricted distribution, and there is continuing habitat loss and conversion of coffee/cardamom plantations (which hold substantial numbers of the species) into tea (which does not support it), but not at rates nearly sufficient to drive habitat-based population declines at rates even for Near Threatened. These factors mean that the species ought to be monitored and may warrant concern in the future; the role of the remaining tall forest fragments as sources for the animals living in artificial habitats is not clear. Although the species does not currently qualify for Near Threatened there is some concern that it may be declining in some portions of its range.

History
  • 2000
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Population

Population
The population status is poorly known. It is not as rare as it was previously generally believed to be, at least in relatively undisturbed rainforest (Mudappa, 2002). It was the most frequently seen small carnivore in Kalakad-Mudanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) between May 1996 and December 1999 (Mudappa, 2002). The abundance of this species has been poorly documented due to its nocturnal and arboreal habits (Rajamani et al, 2002). Ryley (1913) found then to be fairly abundant in Coorg, though not nearly as common as Paradoxerus hermaphroditus (Rajamani et al, 2002). Recent studies suggest that this species is not as rare as it was thought to be (Mudappa, 2001; Rajamani et al, 2002). It appears to be fairly common in Kakachi-Upper Kodayar (Ganesh, 1997) and other areas above 1,000 m within the KMTR in the Agasthyamalai hills and also in the Anamalai hills (Mudappa, 2001).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Populations may be threatened by habitat destruction due to mining activities in Kudremukh (which has since been closed by the government), hydroelectric projects in Anamalais, and large-scale plantations of coffee, cardamom, and tea in and around protected areas (Ashraf et al, 1993). Hunting is unlikely to be a major threat to this species, however, illegal hunting is still common in privately owned plantations (Ashraf et al, 1993). As it is highly frugivorous and arboreal, fragmentation of rainforest habitat is likely a threat to this species (Mudappa, 2002). Due to its mainly frugivorous and arboreal habits, it can survive in heavily encroached areas provided some fragments remain with relatively unbroken canopy and adequate food resources, such as coffee and cardamom plantation, but not tea, Eucalyptus, or teak (Rajamani et al, 2002). The species is tolerant of fragmented landscapes (Mudappa in press).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on CITES Appendix III (Wilson and Reeder, 2005), as well as Schedule II part II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (Rajamani et al, 2002). This species is likely to be found in 25 protected areas within its distribution (Ashraf et al, 1993). It was recorded from Kalakad-Mudanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) between May 1996 and December 1999 (Mudappa, 2002). More surveys are needed to determine the abundance and distribution of this species, due to concern about threats from commercial plantations of coffee, tee, Eucalyptus spp, and teak, as well as other development activities (Menon and Bawa, 1997; Rajamani et al, 2002). Long-term protection of primary rainforests, both large tracts as well as fragments, is imperative to the conservation of this species (Rajamani et al, 2002). More surveys are urgently needed to determine the true abundance and distribution of this species. More information about possible threats would allow more certainty over its status.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

The highly varied and non-specific diet of brown palm civets allows for the consumption and dispersal of introduced or exotic plant species such as coffee, and subsequently, the alteration of the understory of relatively undisturbed forests. The implications of this alteration have yet to be studied. Their ability to access and consume fruits from plantations bordering the forests may also make them a pest.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Brown palm civets' ability to disperse seeds over an extensive range and thrive in fragmented habitats could play a role in restoring patches of degraded forest in the Western Ghats. This wide dispersal also helps maintain, or increase diversity within the forest.

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Wikipedia

Brown palm civet

Not to be confused with Sulawesi Palm Civet.

Brown palm civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni) also called the Jerdon's palm civet is a civet endemic to the Western Ghats of India. There are two subspecies, the nominate P. j. jerdoni and P. j. caniscus.[1] The Sulawesi palm civet is sometimes referred to by the same English name due to its brown colour.[3]

Distribution[edit]

Brown Palm Civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni) in its natural habitat from Munnar, Kerala.

The brown palm civet's distribution extends from the southern tip of Western Ghats in Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve to Castle Rock in Goa to the north.[4] They are nocturnal, and not as rare as previously thought and sight records of the species in Kodaikanal and Ootacamund where they were earlier considered to be locally extinct are an indication of their ability to go unnoticed.[5]

Description[edit]

The brown palm civet has a uniformly brown pelage, darker around the head, neck, shoulder, legs, and tail. Sometimes the pelage may be slightly grizzled. Two subspecies have been described on the basis of the colour of the pelage although the colour is extremely variable, ranging from pale buff or light brown to dark brown. The dark tail sometimes has a white or pale-yellow tip. It has no distinct markings on the body or the face as in the common palm civet. A distinctive feature is the reversed direction of hair growth on the nape, similar to that in the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis) of Sri Lanka. It is about as large as the Common Palm Civet, but with a long and sleek tail. The body weight of the males ranges from 3.6 kg to 4.3 kg, head and body length 430 mm to 620 mm, and tail length from 380 to 530 mm.[5][6][7] The species was described in 1885 on the basis of a skull and pelt obtained in Kodaikanal by Mr F. Levinge and forwarded by Rev. S. B. Fairbank to W T Blanford. Blanford noted the long foramen on the anterior palate. He also found the pelt matching another specimen collected by Francis Day. Blanford named the species in honour of T. C. Jerdon.[8] Subspecies caniscus was described by R I Pocock on the basis of a specimen collected at Virajpet in southern Coorg.[9]

Illustration by Joseph Smit (1885)

Diet[edit]

Dentition. The anterior palatine foramina are longer than in other species in the genus.[6]

The brown palm civet is predominantly frugivorous. Fruits form a large proportion (97 per cent) of its diet and more than 53 native and four introduced species of plants have been recorded. The diet patterns vary across years and even within the same year. They adapt to climatic variations in fruit availability by feeding on a diverse range of species of invertebrates and vertebrates. They eat fruits of trees and lianas, rarely those of herbs or shrubs. The diet is mostly composed of small (<1 cm diameter), many seeded, pulpy berries, and drupes with moderate to high water content, along with several large (>2 cm) fruits like Palaquium ellipticum, Elaeocarpus serratus, Holigarna nigra, and Knema attenuata.[10] They have also been recorded feeding on flowers such as those of Cullenia exarillata[11] and Syzygium species.[10]

Behaviour[edit]

The brown palm civet is a solitary, nocturnal small carnivore. They rest during the day in day-bed sites, such as tree hollows, canopy vine tangles, Indian giant squirrel nests and forks of branches. The day-bed trees are large and are usually in dense mature forest stands with high canopy connectivity. They sometimes rest in the night in open branches.[12]

Conservation[edit]

The brown palm civet is a key mammalian seed disperser in the Western Ghats rainforest by being predominantly frugivorous and dispersing a diverse array of plant species.[10] Their large range and presence within several protected areas have led them to be classified as being of low conservation concern.[13] The brown palm civet occurs in fragmented landscapes containing remnants of tropical rainforest amid commercially exploited land patches such as tea and coffee plantations. Their ability to persist in such landscapes depends on the occurrence of a diversity of fruit tree species in these areas (e.g., shade trees in coffee plantations).[14] However, these areas often do not have large mammalian dispersers and birds like hornbills and large pigeons due to habitat loss and hunting. Hence, the brown palm civet gains importance in such human-impacted landscapes as an important disperser and maintains biodiversity.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 551. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Muddapa D. & Choudbury, A. (2008). Paradoxurus jerdoni. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
  3. ^ Wilson D.E & Mittermeier R.A., ed. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 1. Carnivores. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. 
  4. ^ Kinnear, N B (1913). "The Brown Palm-Civet in North Kanara". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 22: 390. 
  5. ^ a b Rajamani N.,Mudappa D. and Van Rompaey H. (2002). "Distribution and status of the Brown Palm Civet in the Western Ghats, South India". Small Carnivore Conservation 27: 6–11. 
  6. ^ a b Blanford, W. T. (1885). "A Monograph of the Genus Paradoxurus, F. Cuv". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 53: 780–808. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1885.tb02921.x. 
  7. ^ Blanford, WT (1888–91). Fauna of British India. Mammalia. Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 111–112. 
  8. ^ Blanford, WT (1855). "Exhibition and description of a skull of an apparently new Species of Paradoxurus (Paradoxurus jerdoni)". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 612–613. 
  9. ^ Pocock RI (1933). J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 36: 865. 
  10. ^ a b c Mudappa, D., Kumar, A. and Chellam, R. (2010). "Diet and fruit choice of the brown palm civet Paradoxurus jerdoni, a viverrid endemic to the Western Ghats rainforest, India". Tropical Conservation Science 3 (3): 282–300. 
  11. ^ Ganesh T and P Davidar (1997). "Flowering phenology and flower predation of Cullenia exarillata (Bombacaceae) by arboreal vertebrates in Western Ghats, India". J. Tropical Ecology 13: 459–468. doi:10.1017/S0266467400010622. 
  12. ^ Mudappa, Divya (2006). "Day-bed choice by the brown palm civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni) in the Western Ghats, India". Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde 71 (4): 238–243. doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2006.01.003. 
  13. ^ Ashraf NVK, A Kumara and AJT Johnsingh (1993). "Two endemic viverrids of the Western Ghats, India". Oryx 27: 109–114. doi:10.1017/S0030605300020640. 
  14. ^ Mudappa D, BR Noon, A Kumar and R Chellam (2007). "Responses of small carnivores to rainforest fragmentation in the southern Western Ghats, India". Small Carnivore Conservation 36: 18–26. 
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