Many incomplete specimens, predominantly skulls and partial skins (largely not mutually associated), and camera-trap photos, all of which present characters apparently diagnostic or characteristic of the M. rooseveltorum species-complex, have been collected over a large range of northern Indochina highlands (Lao PDR and Viet Nam), the northern and central Annamite range of Indochina (Lao PDR and Viet Nam), and northern Myanmar. A few specimens at the Viet Nam National University, Hanoi, suggest a presence east of the Red River. Records of M. putaoensis from northeastern India (Datta et al. 2003), initially identified morphologically, have been confirmed by recent genetic analysis of five specimens as M. putaoensis (James et al. press). There has been insufficient work in the southern Annamites of Viet Nam and in northern parts of Thailand to rule out presence of the species-complex there, which is possible (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2006). Ma et al. (1986) listed M. rooseveltorum for China (seemingly for the first time) with the following statement 'M. lachrymans teesdalei described by Lydekker (1915) as having relatively small preorbital pit and premaxillae separated from nasals should be M. rooseveltorum'. Although Lydekker's animal is definitely M. reevesi, Ma et al. (1986) were correct in M. rooseveltorum having the said features. Thus, some records identified as M. reevesi teesdalei in southern China may in fact not be of that taxon and could, given the features of this 1986 description, refer to animals of the M. rooseveltorum complex. Presence of the species-complex in southern China is extremely likely as specimens and photographs of animals in the M. rooseveltorum complex in both Lao PDR and Viet Nam have been obtained close to the Chinese border (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).
The camera-trap and specimen evidence suggests that in some, perhaps many, areas of Indochina two (or more) taxa within this species-complex are sympatric, or at least parapatric in a mosaic pattern. The situation is less clear in Myanmar, although the presence of multiple taxa there is also possible (see account for M. putaoensis). Contrary to various statements in the literature (e.g. Amato et al. 1999b) animals of this species-complex are not highly localised, but rather appear to be widespread, although this does not rule out that there might be individual species with small ranges. M. rooseveltorum may yet be found to occur throughout the range of the complex, but equally it could be much more localised. Specifically, despite the molecular genetic analysis of a relatively large number of specimens from Myanmar and adjacent India (Amato et al. 1999a; James et al. press), there is no suggestion of animals with DNA similar to the M. rooseveltorum holotype in these countries.
There have been various unsubstantiated claimed localities for species-level identifications of both M. rooseveltorum and M. truongsonensis in the grey literature. Notably, an animal observed in captivity at ‘Lak Sao’ (= Ban Lak-20), Lao PDR, 18°20'N, 106°00'E and identified by Amato et al. (1999a) as M. rooseveltorum, should not at present be identified; this animal presented several key external characteristics at variance with the holotype of M. rooseveltorum (Timmins 1996; Amato et al. 2000; R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). However, M. rooseveltorum may well occur in this area, because there are camera-trapped animals and one sight record, with distinctive reddish pelage (rather than the darker, less red, and more contrasting pelage assumed to be shown by M. truongsonensis; but note that the pelage of the nominal taxon M. puhoatensis is unknown), from a number of localities in the Northern Annamites of both Lao PDR and Viet Nam (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).
Ma et al. (1986) listed M. rooseveltorum for China, but the identification was revised to M. reevesi by Groves and Grubb (1990) who apparently examined four purchased skins of this species in the Kunming Institute of Zoology (thus extending this species range significantly to the west). There is no description of the skins in the above sources, and given the current understanding of muntjac systematics it would likely be hard to diagnose the specific identity of the skins (especially if heads and tails were incomplete or missing) without molecular analysis, their species identity is thus probably best treated as indeterminate at present.
The type localities for available names in this species-complex are:
1. M. rooseveltorum: Ban Muangyo, Phongsaly Province, Lao PDR, ca. 21°31'N, 101°51'E (Osgood 1932).
2. M. truongsonensis: Viet Nam, "in the west of Quang Nam province"; "collected from four houses in three locations in Hien District, West Quang Nam Province, Viet Nam. The three locations are: Hien, the district capital, A Tin village, and A Plo village (15°56'59''N, 107°34'18''E)" (P. M. Giao et al. 1998). Although this information is not given in the original description (Nguyen An Quang Ha 1997) it can reasonably be used to restrict the more general indications in the original description because there is no doubt that the two sources refer to the same collected material.
3. M. puhoatensis: the Pu Hoat area in Que Phong District, Nghe An Province, Viet Nam (Binh Chau 1997).
4. M. putaoensis: “purchased … at Atanga village, 30 km east of Putao (27°21'N, 97°24'E), northern Myanmar” (Amato et al. 1999b).
Habitat and Ecology
The complex is widely sympatric with northern red muntjac M. vaginalis, although at high elevations over about 1,500 m asl that species appears to become scarce or naturally absent within Indochina, whereas the rooseveltorum complex ascends to over 2,000 m asl in at least northern Viet Nam (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on photographs and other unpublished data of S. Swann/FFI).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Data Deficient
In localized areas, especially of northern Indochina, the species-complex is likely to be affected by habitat loss. Here, most ethnic groups practice shifting cultivation and in recent decades there has been a clear net loss and fragmentation of forest: such shifting cultivation is not now in a balanced cycle (for rotational systems), or never was (frontier systems). The adaptability of the species-complex to degraded or fragmented habitats is not well known, although evidence from northern Lao PDR suggests that animals there persist in landscape-scale mosaics including extensive secondary, degraded forest fragments and cultivation (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2006). In general it appears that muntjacs (particularly M. vaginalis and M. reevesi) adapt well to secondary and degraded habitats and in fact may reach higher densities in such areas than they do in unencroached habitats. More serious than losses to shifting cultivation, in the most recent years and the immediate future, is likely to be the large-scale replacement of natural forests (albeit mostly heavily degraded) with rubber plantations to supply the burgeoning Chinese market. This is affecting large areas of the northern highlands of Lao PDR and elsewhere, and will have three linked negative effects on ground-dwelling mammals: direct loss of habitat (it is unlikely that rubber plantations will support even mediocre densities of this species-complex, although this is not yet known), decline and destabilisation of the forest resource-base (including wild-meat sources) for subsistence-level communities, leading to higher hunting levels in remaining wildlife areas (C. Wood pers. comm. 2005 to J.W. Duckworth, based on emerging patterns across several provinces in Lao PDR’s northern highlands); and shrinkage of the size of natural habitat blocks and thereby reduction and, locally, loss, of the cushioning effect.
Whatever actual taxonomic pattern is found within the species-complex, management of hunting will need to recognise that hunters cannot be expected to recognise muntjacs to species in the field: some methods are non-selective (e.g. snares) while active projectile hunting (e.g. guns, bows, blow-pipes) would be severely reduced in their harvest efficiency if identification had to precede shooting. The only realistic site-based management tool for this species-complex is likely to be the declaration of suitably-sized ‘core areas’, site in ecologically appropriate areas, where all hunting using methods suitable for muntjacs, including under hitherto traditional rights, is prevented. Lao protected area legislation apparently provides for ‘core areas’ within each national protected area although few if any have yet been declared. Each protected area within the species-complex’s range should therefore have at least one large (several hundred km², in the absence of any empirical knowledge of muntjac spatial ecology) core zone declared and enforced. This measure implemented in conjunction with well considered hunting management in peripheral forest areas might also benefit the ongoing dietary needs of local people, who could harvest in a controlled manner animals outside core zones, and who, in parts of montane Lao PDR that have been effectively studied, are being forced into involuntary veganism because the lack of effective wildlife management and sensible hunting quotas, has meant wildlife stocks have fallen severely (Krahn and Johnson 2007).
A single specimen of the Roosevelt's muntjac or Roosevelt's barking deer (Muntiacus rooseveltorum) was presented to the Field Museum in 1929 following a hunting expedition led by Theodore (Jnr) and Kermit Roosevelt. The specimen is slightly smaller than the common muntjac and DNA testing has shown it to be distinct from recently discovered muntjac species. It is a subspecies of Fea's muntjac, whose home range is mountains further northwest separated by lower land. However, without further evidence, the exact position of Roosevelt's muntjac cannot be stated.
There have been several recent claims to have rediscovered the species, from evidence including skulls owned by villagers in the Truong Son (Annamite) mountains between Laos and Vietnam. More recently, photographs from a camera trap at Xuan Lien Nature Reserve in Vietnam appear to have identified two individuals.
- Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W. & Long, B. (2008). Muntiacus rooseveltorum. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient.
- "Deer supposedly extinct 85 years ago discovered in Vietnam". Thanh Nien News. March 6, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- Rediscovery of Roosevelt's Barking Deer (Muntiacus rooseveltorum), George Amato, Mary G. Egan, George B. Schaller, Richard H. Baker, Howard C. Rosenbaum, William G. Robichaud, Rob DeSalle, Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 80, No. 2 (May, 1999), pp. 639-643 
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