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Sylvilagus dicei

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Sylvilagus dicei
Species Authority: Harris, 1932
Common Name(s):
English Dice's Cottontail
Taxonomic Notes: There are no recognized subspecies of Sylvilagus dicei. S. dicei was formerly included in S. brasiliensis (Hoffmann and Smith 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F.
Reviewer(s): Johnston, C.H. and Smith, A.T. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Sylvilagus dicei is not a well known species, yet evidence suggests that in some portions of its range there are numerous potential threats. Thus, this species is possibly endangered due to its restricted range and invasive predators; however, its entire distribution is within protected areas. Until further research and survey work has been conducted on the effects of potential threats to this species it is not possible to apply the Red List categories and criteria and thus the species is considered to be Data Deficient; and further research is an urgent priority.
History:
1996 Endangered (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Endangered
1994 Insufficiently Known (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Sylvilagus dicei occurs in a limited range only in the Cordillera de Talamanca of Costa Rica and in western Panama (Reid 1997) at high elevations (above 1,640 m in Cervantes, Costa Rica, to 3,800 m in Cerro Chirropo, Costa Rica). It occurs to 1,180 m at Rancho de Rio Jimenez in Panama (Diersing 1981).
Countries:
Native:
Costa Rica; Panama
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Very little is known about population status of Sylvilagus dicei, but the species may be common in the Paramo ecosystem and highland forest of Panama and Costa Rica (Reid 1997).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Very little is known about the ecology of Sylvilagus dicei, but it is presumed to be similar to S. brasiliensis, of which S. dicei was formerly a subspecies (Reid 1997). This species is most abundant in the paramo grasslands (such as those in the Chirropo massif) but also occurs in the shrublands and oak cloud forests surrounding and associated with these high elevation ecosystems (Schipper pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats that currently affect Sylvilagus dicei are poorly known (Chapman and Ceballos 1990) as few people have studied it. During several camera-trap studies in the paramo, high elevation grasslands and cloud forests of the Chirropo massif, the species was found to be relatively abundant throughout the region based on photographic evidence and scats (Schipper pers. comm.). However, interviews with locals in the area suggest that the species was previously more common than it is today, and likely had a larger distribution that extended down to lower elevations (which have since been converted to cattle pasture and other agriculture). The following are potential threats for S. dicei in the Talamanca mountain region of Costa Rica (Schipper pers. comm.):
1. Coyotes - a non-native carnivore (natural range expansion south following cattle) and is likely the greatest consumer of S. dicei in the Talamancans. Probably less of a threat in forested areas, but in paramo and grassland their bones are in nearly every scat found.
2. Fire - lower elevations of Talamanca are burned annually for range control, but the paramos burn periodically and completely over large areas (also human caused - accidental and intentional). This likely has a short term effect by removing forage and a longer term effect by removing hiding places.
3. Habitat loss - coupled with fire is the reduction of forest habitat along the lower reaches of the species' range. This has the effect of range contraction, as it is already limited entirely to the Montane forest areas, which are being logged and cleared for pasture right up to the park border.
4. Mesocarnivore explosions - along the contact zone with S. dicei and humans there is intensive hunting of large mammal fauna, which has the indirect effect of increasing the number of mesocarnivores (coyotes, tayra, and other rabbit predators).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A status survey is needed for Sylvilagus dicei before conservation measures can be recommended (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). Owing to a lack of knowledge about the species it is recommended that research be conducted on population, biology/ecology, threats, and use.

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. 2008. Sylvilagus dicei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 August 2014.
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