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Leopardus geoffroyi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA FELIDAE

Scientific Name: Leopardus geoffroyi
Species Authority: (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844)
Common Name(s):
English Geoffroy's Cat
Spanish Gato de Mato, Gato Montés Común
French Chat de Geoffroy
Synonym(s):
Oncifelis geoffroyi (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844)
Taxonomic Notes: Taxonomy is currently under review by the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group.  Included in the genus Leopardus by Johnson et al. (2006). No genetic evidence of geographic subspecific partitioning was found in an analysis by Johnson et al. (1999). A zone of hybridization was found in southern Brazil where the northern extent of L. geoffroyi's range meets the southernmost extent of the range of the Oncilla, L. tigrinus (Eizirik et al. 2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-04-20
Assessor(s): Pereira, J., Lucherini, M. & Trigo, T.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Hunter, L., Schipper, J., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Lanz, T. & Breitenmoser, U.
Contributor(s): de Oliveira, T. & Acosta-Jamett, G.
Justification:
The Geoffroy´s Cat is listed as Least Concern because it is widespread and abundant over most of its range. This felid typically ranks first in felid abundance in several habitat types such as the dry forests of the Bolivian Chaco (Cuéllar et al. 2006) and of the Argentine Espinal (Caruso et al. 2012), scrublands of the Monte (Pereira et al. 2011), relicts of the natural Pampas grasslands (Manfredi et al. 2006), lowland cropland areas of the Andean subtropical forests (Di Bitetti et al. 2011), and grasslands of southern Brazil (Trigo et al. 2013). Its distribution range is considered to be continuous, but it does not occur in the high elevation areas (above 3,750 m) of the Andes. In the northern and central part of its range, this felid appears to have been favoured by the conversion of sub-tropical forests into croplands, while it seem to be tolerant to some degree of habitat alteration produced by livestock management. A recent expansion of its distribution has been documented in northeastern Argentina (Rinas et al. 2014). However, it is considered rare in Chile, mostly because of its limited distribution in this country (Iriarte et al. 2013) and Vulnerable in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (Almeida et al. 2013). Anthropogenic mortality (e.g. road-kills, persecution due to poultry predation) is intense in several areas (e.g., Pampas grasslands) and potential negative impacts from current trends in climate change have been proposed (Canepuccia et al. 2008, Pereira and Novaro 2014). A hybrid zone between L. geoffroyi and L. guttulus was identified in southern Brazil where the two species meet (Trigo et al. 2008, 2013b). These studies are currently indicating a possible natural origin for this event. In this case, this hybrid zone will be considered as an eligible process for conservation, by representing an important part of the evolutionary history of these species. However, specific studies are still needed to confirm this and evaluate whether anthropogenic influences such as human-induced changes in habitat or population densities in these areas could be influencing these hybridization events, and thus constituting a threat to these species by compromising their genetic integrity.
History:
2008 Near Threatened
2002 Near Threatened

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Geoffroy's Cat ranges from southeastern Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina east of the Andes and southern Brazil (below ca 30°S), Uruguay all the way to the Strait of Magellan in Chile, from sea level to 3,800 m (Oliveira 1994, Nowell and Jackson 1996, Cuellar et al. 2006, Dotta et al. 2007, M. Da Silva pers. comm.).
Countries:
Native:
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Chile; Paraguay; Uruguay
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is relatively common throughout most of its range, although heavy commercial hunting pressure from the 1960s to the late 1980s is believed to have reduced populations (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The species was recently downgraded from Potentially Vulnerable to Least Concern in Argentina (Ojeda et al. 2012). It is considered Rare in Chile (CONAMA 2009), occurring only in small areas in the south and east. In Brazil, where the species inhabits only the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, it is considered Vulnerable (Almeida et al. 2013), although relatively common and abundant in the pampas (T. Trigo pers. obs. 2014). In Bolivia it is considered the second most abundant felid after the Ocelot (Cuellar et al. 2006).

Density estimates include:
Bolivian Chaco (Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park ): 9-40/100 km² (Cuellar et al. 2006)
Argentine Monte (Lihué Calel National Park): up to 190-220/100 km² (Pereira et al. 2011), including several transient individuals
Argentine Espinal (altered dry shrublands): 45/100 km² (Caruso et al. 2012)
Chile (Torres del Paine National Park) 7-12/100 km² (W. Johnson pers. comm. in Nowell and Jackson 1996).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Described as occurring in a wide variety of habitat types of the subtropical and temperate Neotropics, including scrubby woodland, dry forests and savannas of the Chaco, Patagonian scrub, Monte desert/semi-desert, the Pampas grasslands, marshlands, etc. in both pristine and disturbed areas (Oliveira 1994, Pereira and Aprile 2012). It uses both open and closed habitats, but seems to be more associated with areas of denser cover in the predominately open areas of most of its range. Geoffroy's Cat is distributed throughout the pampas grasslands and arid Chaco shrub and woodlands, and up to 3,800 m in the Bolivian Andes (M. Da Silva pers. comm. 2014). Most of its range is arid or semi-arid (Pereira et al. 2006), but it also occurs in wetlands (e.g. Paraná River delta; Pereira et al. 2005). It is not found in either the tropical or temperate rainforests. It is sympatric throughout most of its range with the Pampas Cat (L. colocolo).

In a radiotelemetry study in wet pampas grassland of Argentina, Manfredi et al. (2006) found mean home range size from 2.5-3.4 km², with male ranges 25% larger than females. In Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, in beech forest, home ranges were larger, at 2.3-6.5 km² for two females, and 3.9-12.4 km² for five males (Johnson and Franklin 1991). In Argentina's Lihue Calel National Park, Pereira et al. (2012) found male home ranges of 2-3 km²; whereas females occupied areas of 0.2-0.6 km². Home ranges in adjacent cattle ranches scaled up to 4.4 km² for males and up to 3.7-4.9 km² for females. During a severe drought period in this same area, six radio-collared cats died of starvation when hare abundance fell from 5.6 to <0.8 per 10 km (Pereira et al. 2006).

Manfredi et al. (2004) found diet to vary by location in Argentina, consisting primarily of small rodent, but including other locally abundant species such as birds. In Chile, rodents and hares were primarily taken (Johnson and Franklin 1991). Plains Vizcachas are also prey (Branch 1995). In southern South America, where Vizcachas have become extinct, introduced European Hares (Lepus europaeus) are the major prey, although densities of both hares and Geoffroy's Cats were observed to decline markedly during a drought period (Pereira et al. 2006). Fish and frog remains were found in the stomachs of Geoffroy's Cats from Uruguay and Brazil (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Bisceglia et al. (2008) found that small mammals were the most frequent prey of Geoffroy´s Cats in Lihue Calel, representing at least the 63% of the food items throughout the year.

Geoffroy's Cat is a small solitary felid (4.3 kg), with an average litter size of 1.5 kittens, and predominantly nocturnal activity pattern. It seems to be the most abundant felid of the temperate Neotropics (Oliveira and Cassaro 2005, Lucherini et al. 2006, Pereira and Novaro 2014).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: For details on Use and Trade see under Threats.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Large numbers of pelts were exported from South America for the international fur trade from the 1960s to 1980s, but little trade took place after 1988 and the species was upgraded to CITES Appendix I in 1992 (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Cats are still killed as pests or poultry predators, and these pelts may be seen in local illegal trade. Currently, habitat loss and fragmentation, and retaliatory killing remains as the main threats. Potential negative impacts from current trends in climate change have been proposed (Canepuccia et al. 2008, Pereira et al. 2014)

During a health evaluation of Geoffroy´s Cats (Uhart et al. 2012) at two different protected areas in Argentina (Campos del Tuyu Wildlife Reserve and Lihué Calel National Park), antibodies to infectious peritonitis, feline panleukopenia, canine distemper virus, feline callicivirus, toxoplasmosis and dirofilariasis were found in tested animals. Adult parasites recovered from necropsied animals and eggs in fresh faeces revealed the presence of various nematode families, including Ascarididae, Trichuridae, Capillariideae, Rictulariidae, Spiruridae and Ancylostomatidae; cestodes from families Taenidae and Anaplocephaliidae and oocists of Eimeriidae (Beldomenico et al. 2005). These results suggest exposure (recent or past) to common domestic carnivore diseases, and indicate a potential risk to these Geoffroy´s Cats.

Human-related mortality accounted for most of Geoffroy’s Cat deaths recorded on cattle ranches near Lihué Calel National Park, with poaching, predation by dogs, and vehicle collision being the main causes of mortality (Pereira et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included in CITES Appendix I. The species is fully protected across its range, with hunting and trade prohibited in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs in a number of protected areas.

Citation: Pereira, J., Lucherini, M. & Trigo, T. 2015. Leopardus geoffroyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 July 2015.
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