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Lepus yarkandensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Lepus yarkandensis
Species Authority: Günther, 1875
Common Name(s):
English Yarkand Hare, Yarkland Hare
Taxonomic Notes: There are no recognized subspecies for Lepus yarkandensis (Hoffmann and Smith 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H.
Reviewer(s): Boyer, A.F. & Johnston, C.H. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Lepus yarkandensis a widespread species, with a restricted area of extent. This species is characterized as locally common (Smith and Xie 2008). However, increased human activity within its range is undoubtedly impacting this species negatively. At present, there are no data available to quantify ongoing population decline. It is assumed that declines are moderate (approximately 30%) and is therefore, listed as Near Threatened nearly qualifying for listing as Vulnerable (VU) under A2cd.

It should be noted that this species, which is endemic to China, has been regionally classified as VU under criteria A1cd (Wang and Xie 2004). However, criterion A2 should be used, as the cause(s) of decline have not ceased and are expected to continue in the future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Lepus yarkandensis is endemic to China (Smith and Xie 2008). "The Yarkand hare is restricted to the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, between latitudes 36-42°N and longitudes 76-92°E (Flux and Angermann 1990)." This species relies on oases of vegetation that are supported by streams descending from the surrounding mountains of the Taklamakan desert (Gao 1983; Luo 1988). This habitat preference produces a ring shaped distribution around the Taklamakan desert (Gao 1983; Luo 1988).
Countries:
Native:
China (Xinjiang)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is considered locally common (Smith and Xie 2008). However, it is suspected that it is experiencing population declines as human activity increases within its range.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Lepus yarkandensis prefers habitat that consists of "Chinese tamarisk or poplar forest and brushwood along the margins of the rivers, which produce 'islands' of vegetation as they run into the desert (Flux and Angermann 1990)." It will utilize reedy meadows within its range as well (Flux and Angermann 1990). However, this species tends to avoid agricultural fields (Flux and Angermann 1990). Diet consists of grass and crops. There is no information on home range. Total length of this species is 28.5-43.0 cm (Smith and Xie 2008). Breeding season extends from February possibly into September (Smith and Xie 2008). Litter sizes range from two to five young, with two to three litters per year (Smith and Xie 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for game and for its pelt (Flux and Angermann 1990).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Lepus yarkandensis is a game species and between 1958 and 1981 about 10,000 furs were produced annually (Flux and Angermann 1990). Increasing human activity (petroleum exploration and local development) within its range is resulting in population declines (Li et al. 2005). A recent study of population genetic structure found low gene flow among three sampled populations (Li et al. 2005). It is inferred that increasing isolation of hare populations will exacerbate this situation, potentially resulting in genetic drift and inbreeding depression.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species occurs in Talimuhuyanglin (Tarim), Aerjinshan, and Luobupoyeluotuo Nature Reserves (CSIS 2008). Due to increased human activity, it is suggested that efforts be made to conserve habitat and that harvesting limits be implemented (Smith and Xie 2008). Additionally, the lack of gene flow between isolated populations raises concern with regard to genetic variability. This issue should be monitored to avert inbreeding depression. This species is regionally listed in China as Vulnerable under criteria A1cd (Wang and Xie 2004).

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Lepus yarkandensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 July 2014.
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