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Lepus castroviejoi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Lepus castroviejoi
Species Authority: Palacios, 1977
Common Name/s:
English Broom Hare
Spanish Liebre De Piornal, LIEBRE DE PIORNAL
French LIÈVRE DE CASTROVIEJO
Taxonomic Notes: Past concerns regarding taxonomic status have been resolved with recent genetic evidence that support the classification of Lepus castroviejoi as one of two endemic species of Lepus inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula (Alves et al. 2003, Melo-Ferreira et al. 2005). Recent molecular data suggest that L. castroviejoi is a sister taxa to L. corsicanus (Alves et al. 2002).

There are no subspecies recognized for Lepus castroviejoi (Flux and Angermann 1990, Hoffmann and Smith 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H.
Reviewer/s: Alves, P.C. & Ballesteros, F. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Lepus castroviejoi is restricted to a relatively small geographic range of approximately 5,000 km². (Ballesteros 2003). This species is considered fragmented, as it occupies highly specialized patches of scarce habitat (Ballesteros in press). These fragmented populations form a dispersed metapopulation within a matrix of unsuitable habitat (Ballesteros in press). Population declines have been observed along the northern portion of its range and in the marginal habitat in which it occurs (Ballesteros et al. 1996).
History:
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The distribution of L. castroviejoi is limited to the Cantabrian Mountains in the northwest of Spain (Flux and Angermann 1990). It occupies elevations of 1,000 to 1,900 m between Sierra de los Ancares and Sierra de Pena Labra (Flux and Angermann 1990, Ballesteros 2003). The total distribution is approximately 25 - 40 km from north to south, 230 km east to west (Flux and Angermann 1990). It is estimated that the extent of occurrence is 5,000 km² (Ballesteros 2003). This species is considered fragmented, as it occupies highly specialized patches of habitat that is scarce (Ballesteros, in press).
Countries:
Native:
Spain
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: L. castroviejoi is experiencing a decline in relation to specific portions of its distribution that are disturbed by human activities and excessive hunting (Ballesteros et al. 1996). Fragmentation, resulting from the patchy distribution of suitable habitat, has produced a dispersed metapopulation of this species (Ballesteros, in press). A habitat suitability model indicated that L. castroviejoi was experiencing a decreasing population trend of 16.67% and a 4.17% increase within its metapopulation structure, with no appreciable change for 70.82% of the populations (Acevedo et al. 2007).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Little is known about the home range, population density, and food preferences, but they are likely to be similar to those of European hares in comparable habitat. No information is available on reproduction (Alves pers. comm.).

L. castroviejoi occupies an elevational range of 1,300-1,900 m, descending in winter to 1,000 m to avoid snow. This habitat consists of heathland where the dominant vegetation forms are Erica, Calluna, and Vaccinium and shrub where the cover consists of Cytisus, Genista, and Juniperus (Flux and Angermann 1990, Alves and Niethammer 2003). A habitat suitability model determined that L. castroviejoi, "selects areas characterized by a high percentage of broom and heather scrublands, high altitude and slope, and limited human accessibility (quantified as distance to roads variable) (Acevedo et al. 2007). Its habitat also includes cleared areas of mixed deciduous forest of Fagus and Quercus (Palacios 1977). L. castroviejoi also selects habitat that has been burned and areas where broom has been cleared within Somiedo Natural Park (Ballesteros et al. 1996). Nocturnal censuses with spotlights in Somiedo Natural Park determined average densities of 6.83/100 ha (Gonzalez-Quiros et al. 1992).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There has been excessive hunting at the western edge of its distribution where hares are isolated from the rest of the population during the summer (Palacios and Ramos 1979).

In addition to over harvesting, this species is subject to predation, poisoning (fertilizer and pesticides) and habitat change (Ballesteros et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Recommended conservation actions are (Ballesteros et al. 1996):
- Research to determine the effects of habitat change, predation pressure, and illegal hunting.
- Develop a global hunting plan for all regional reserves and private hunting areas, accommodating specific characteristics of the situation for the species.
- Avoid any restocking with other hare species within the extent of occurrence of L. castroviejoi.
- Development of direct or indirect predator control, especially in conjunction with foxes and domestic dogs and cats.
- Restoration of altered habitat that is no longer suitable for L. castroviejoi.

The establishment of corridors among local populations should be considered to bolster interbreeding within the metapopulation (Acevedo et al. 2007).

Research should also be conducted to improve knowledge of reproduction and genetic structure (Alves pers. comm.). Although L. castroviejoi is listed as endangered in Spain, it is still hunted as a game species in some regions (Cantabria and Leon) (Alves per. comm.).

The ability to implement policies to manage and conserve this species should be easy, because a substantial portion of its area of occupancy lies within reserves (Ballesteros et al. 1996).
Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Lepus castroviejoi. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 24 April 2014.
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