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Romerolagus diazi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Romerolagus diazi
Species Authority: (Ferrari-Pérez, 1893)
Common Name(s):
English Volcano Rabbit
Spanish Conejo De Los Volcanes, Conejo De Díaz, Conejo Zacatuche, Teporingo, Zacatuche
French Lapin Des Volcans, Lapin De Diaz
Taxonomic Notes: There are no recognized subspecies of Romerolagus diazi (Hall 1981).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Mexican Association for Conservation and Study of Lagomorphs (AMCELA), Romero Malpica, F.J., Rangel Cordero, H., de Grammont, P.C. & Cuarón, A.D.
Reviewer(s): Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Romerolagus diazi is endemic to a small region of Mexico, with an area of occupancy of approximately 386 km² (Velazquez 1994). This range is becoming increasingly fragmented and the area of available suitable habitat is decreasing (Velazquez et al. 1993).
History:
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)
1988 Endangered (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Endangered (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Endangered (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Romerolagus diazi is endemic to Mexico, restricted to the Transverse Neovolcanic Belt, mainly in discontinuous patches on four volcanoes (Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, El Pelado, and Tlaloc) (Fa and Bell 1990), spanning approximately 386 km² (Velazquez 1994). R. diazi has apparently disappeared from some of its historical range in the central Transverse Neovolcanic Belt, including the eastern slopes of Iztaccihuatl and the Nevada de Toluca (Fa and Bell 1990). There is an approximate extent of occurrence of 1,841 sq. km (Cuaron and de Grammont pers. comm.). The range of R. diazi is becoming smaller and increasingly fragmented as a result of human induced and natural causes (Velazquez et al. 1993).

R. diazi occurs between 2,800 m and 4,250 m in elevation (Fa and Bell 1990), but occurs at the highest density between 3,150 m and 3,400 m (Velazquez 1994).
Countries:
Native:
Mexico (México Distrito Federal, México State, Morelos)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: A 1994 study on El Pelado used fecal pellet counts and direct censusing by line transect (on horseback) to estimate population size and concluded that the population size of R. diazi was between 2,478 and 12,120 individuals, recommending the smaller number be considered for conservation purposes due to broad confidence limits (Velazquez 1994).
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Romerolagus diazi is a habitat specialist (Velazquez et al. 1993). It is found at its highest density in a subalpine habitat containing bunchgrass (“zacaton”) and pine communities (Velazquez et al. 1993). In areas where bunchgrass is less abundant, they give birth in cracks and abandoned burrows (Velazquez et al. 1993). It is unlikely that R. diazi constructs burrows of its own (Fa and Bell 1990).

The diet of R. diazi is not well known, but local reports indicate that the species feeds upon the young leaves of grasses and some spiny herbs (Fa and Bell 1990). Gestation time for this species is 38-40 (Cervantes et al. 1990). R. diazi may be reproductively active year round with peak breeding season occurring "during the warm, rainy summer" (Cervantes et al. 1990). Adults of a captive breeding program weighed 400-600 g, with birth weights for females 25-27 g and males 32 g (Matsuzaki et al. 1982). Total length of newborns ranges from 8.3-10.6 cm (Cervantes et al. 1990). Mean total length of adults ranges between 26.8-32.0 (Cervantes et al. 1990).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In some areas, this species is hunted for food.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Romerolagus diazi is threatened by habitat destruction, caused by livestock grazing, agriculture and property development encroachment, logging, harvest of the “zacaton” grasses, and forest fire (98% of which are started by humans attempting to encourage new pasture growth) (Fa and Bell 1990). The range of R. diazi exists within 45 minutes of one of the world’s largest cities (Mexico D. F.) and urban expansion has resulted in habitat loss (Fa and Bell 1990). Habitat loss has been estimated at 15-20% over the last three generations (Cuaron and de Grammont pers. comm.).

Fragmentation of R. diazi habitat is caused by contiguous habitat loss and by highway construction, causing the fragmented populations to become genetically isolated, increasing their risk of local extinction from random processes (Velazquez et al. 1993).

Though hunting is illegal, it continues because of lack of local knowledge of its protected status, and lack of enforcement (Cervantes et al. 1990, Fa and Bell 1990).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Romerolagus diazi is listed under Appendix I of CITES (1973), and hunting is illegal according to Mexican law, but poorly enforced (Fa and Bell 1990). R. diazi occurs within the protected areas Izta-Popo and Zoquiapan National Parks, but hunting, grazing, and grass burning persist within the park boundaries (Cervantes et al. 1990; Fa and Bell 1990; Velazquez et al. 1993).

Captive breeding programs have been established with some success, but infant mortality in captivity is very high (Fa and Bell 1990).

It is recommended that conservation measures focus on habitat management, particularly the control of burning and overgrazing of the bunchgrass “zacaton” habitat, and enforcement of the existing laws prohibiting hunting and trade of R. diazi (Fa and Bell 1990). Management of the protected areas should be improved and education plans at local, national, and international levels should be implemented (Fa and Bell 1990). Captive colonies, especially those in the zoos of Mexico, D. F., should be used to educate the public about the protected status of R. diazi (Fa and Bell 1990).

Citation: Mexican Association for Conservation and Study of Lagomorphs (AMCELA), Romero Malpica, F.J., Rangel Cordero, H., de Grammont, P.C. & Cuarón, A.D. 2008. Romerolagus diazi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 September 2014.
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