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Erythrolamprus cursor 

Scope: Global
Language: English
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_onStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Dipsadidae

Scientific Name: Erythrolamprus cursor
Species Authority: (Lacépède, 1789)
Common Name(s):
English Lacépède's Ground Snake
Synonym(s):
Coluber cursor Lacépède, 1789
Liophis cursor (Lacépède, 1789)
Taxonomic Source(s): Grazziotin, F.G., Zaher, H., Murphy, R.W., Scrocchi, G., Benavides, M.A., Zhang, Y.-P. and Bonatto, S.L. 2012. Molecular phylogeny of the New World Dipsadidae (Serpentes: Colubroidea): a reappraisal. Cladistics 28(5): 437-459. DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2012.00393.x.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) B1ab(v)+2ab(v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-07-21
Assessor(s): Dewynter, M., Daltry, J.C. & Powell, R.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Contributor(s): Hedges, B. & Hanson, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): NatureServe
Justification:
Listed as Critically Endangered on the basis that this species has a maximum extent of occurrence of 0.06 km2, representing a single location where any surviving population is at extreme risk from stochastic events, inbreeding, and likely predation by invasive house mice, all of which are likely to result in a decline in the number of mature individuals in any surviving population. The species is considered extinct on Martinique and intensive targeted surveys have failed to record any evidence that snakes survive on Rocher du Diamant. While experts searching for this species have concluded that it is probably now extinct, there are recent anecdotal reports of snakes on Rocher du Diamant and a small part of the island was inaccessible to surveyors, so a it is possible that a very small number of individuals survive.
Date last seen: 1968
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This snake is known only from Martinique and the 0.06 km2 satellite of Rocher du Diamant (Henderson and Powell 2009). It was last recorded on the main island in 1965 (and the last record from the northern part of the island was in 1879), and from Rocher du Diamant in 1968. It is presumed to be extinct on Martinique, where many years of intensive searches have failed to record it (M. Dewynter pers. comm. 2015).

Until recently it was believed to remain on Rocher du Diamant (0.06 km2). A 10-day targeted survey in 2014, including baiting traps, failed to record any evidence that the species survives on Rocher du Diamant, and it has not been found in other recent surveys (Caut and Jowers 2016). These authors concluded that the species is most likely extinct, although they were unable to survey the most remote parts of the island. There are, however, credible anecdotal reports of early-morning sightings as late as 2015 (M. Dewynter pers. comm. 2015).
Countries occurrence:
Possibly extinct:
Martinique
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:4
Number of Locations:1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species was reported to be common across Martinique before 1879 (Dewynter et al. in press), however, it has never since been recorded from this island's north and was last recorded from Martinique in 1965. It has almost certainly been lost from Martinique. If it is still present on Rocher du Diamant, from which it was last recorded in 1968 (Breuil 2002) it is at a very low population density (Powell and Henderson 2005, Henderson and Powell 2009). Although historical reports indicate that it was abundant here in the 18th Century nothing is reported of its abundance or population trends on the islet since, however, comparison with congeners suggests that the island may never have supported a population in excess of 50 individuals (Caut and Jowers 2016). A targeted survey was carried out on Rocher du Diamant, involving two researchers surveying both visually and with snake-specific intercept traps between 4 and 14 June 2014 (Caut and Jowers 2016). This effort failed to record any evidence that the species still exists, with no records of either individuals, eggs, or skins although the traps successfully recorded every reptile species known to survive on the island (Caut and Jowers 2016). Although these authors conclude that the species is probably extinct, they note that some areas of the islet were inaccessible to their survey on logistical grounds.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurred in both mesic and arid habitats; on arid Rocher du Diamant it was found in thick vegetation. Historical records from Martinique include a range of habitats, including forest in the wettest part of the island (Dewynter et al. in press). It was presumably a ground-dwelling active forager that fed on lizards, frogs and insects. It was an egg laying species (Henderson and Powell 2009).
Systems:Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There was at one point (mid-20th Century) a tradition for young men from coastal Martinique to visit this island, collect snakes, and release them on Martinique, as a way of impressing women (M. Dewynter pers. comm. 2015).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species was rapidly lost from Martinique following the introduction of mongoose in the 1870s, although a population survived until at least 1965 when the animal was last recorded. The cause of the species' apparent extinction on Rocher du Diamant is less clear, as the islet is too small to sustain a mongoose population and rats appear never to have been present (Caut and Jowers 2016). Contributing factors may include invasive house mice (which appear to occur on the islet at high densities - Caut and Jowers 2016), stochastic effects and the impacts of inbreeding, and declines may have been exacerbated by a mid-20th Century local tradition of removing snakes from the island and releasing them on Martinique, which is no longer suitable for the snake's persistence. The islet may not have been large enough to support a viable population based on comparisons with the Saint Lucia racer, whose global population size of fewer than 30 individuals is thought to be close to the carrying capacity of a larger islet off the coast of Saint Lucia (J. Daltry pers. comm. 2015). The exact causes of the species' apparent extinction on Rocher du Diamant are particularly difficult to determine given that, while it appears to have persisted on this islet from at least the 18th Century to as late as the early 1960s, nothing is recorded of any changes in abundance between these two periods or of any novel pressures acting on the islet (Caut and Jowers 2016).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is likely extinct or, if any remaining individuals survive, it is unlikely that any effective conservation is possible. While Rocher du Diamant is now a protected area and uninhabited, this protection dates only to 2008 and house mice - which may prey on eggs or juveniles - are present in apparently high densities (Caut and Jowers 2016). Repeated targeted surveys have failed to provide any evidence of a surviving population. Nevertheless, anecdotal observations suggest a small number of animals may persist, and visitors to the island should be encouraged to photograph or document any snake sightings.

Citation: Dewynter, M., Daltry, J.C. & Powell, R. 2016. Erythrolamprus cursor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T12079A71739671. . Downloaded on 08 December 2016.
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