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Sylvilagus cunicularius

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Sylvilagus cunicularius
Species Authority: (Waterhouse, 1848)
Common Name/s:
English Mexican Cottontail
Spanish Conejo Montés, Conejo De Montes, Conejo Serrano
Taxonomic Notes: There are three recognized subspecies: Sylvilagus cunicularius cunicularius, S. c. insolitus, and S. c. pacificus (Cervantes et al. 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern 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.
Reviewer/s: Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Sylvilagus cunicularius is abundant throughout its range and does not appear to be experiencing a severe decline (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, Cervantes et al. 2005).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Sylvilagus cunicularius is endemic to Mexico and the distribution extends from mid-Sinaloa, continuing south along the Pacific coast to Oaxaca, including the Axis Neovolcanic and western region of Veracruz (Cervantes et al. 2005). Its altitudinal distribution ranges from sea level to approximately 4,300 m (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). Presently there are three subspecies: S. c. cunicularius which occurs in the central portion if the distribution (Axis Neovolcanic into the states of Michoacán, Guerrero, and Oaxaca), S. c. insolitus occurring in the northern extent of the species’ distribution from mid-Sinaloa along the Pacific coastal plain to the south-central region of Jalisco, and S. c. pacificus which occurs from the southern region of Jalisco south along to the Pacific coastal plain to Oaxaca (Hall 1981).
Countries:
Native:
Mexico (Colima, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México Distrito Federal, México State, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Tlaxcala, Veracruz)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Sylvilagus cunicularius is known to be abundant throughout its range (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). It has been reported that the average density was 27±5.4 individuals/km² in La Malinche National Park, Tlaxcala, which varies according to the rainy and dry seasons (Gonzalez et al. 2007). There have been some declines associated with areas where overgrazing, hunting, and habitat degradation occur (Chapman and Ceballos 1990).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Sylvilagus cunicularius occurs in tropical, semi-arid, and temperate forest, open forest, dense shrub and grassland. In central Mexico it is abundant in pine and pine-oak forest and in western Mexico it occurs in pastures, dry deciduous forest, and areas of disturbed vegetation (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). From southern Sinaloa to western Michoacán, S. cunicularius occurs along the coastal plain at sea level to the mountain slopes (Chapman and Ceballos 1990).

Preliminary results of a radiotelemetry survey indicate that the size of home ranges in La Malinche National Park, Tlaxcala, is 0.2-0.7 sq. km for both sexes (Vazquez et al. 2006).

S. cunicularius is able to reproduce throughout the year (Chapman and Ceballos 1990), with peak reproduction occurring in March through October (Vazquez et al. 2006). There are six young produced per litter and gestation time is 30 days (Cervantes et al. 2005). Total length for this species ranges from 48.5-51.5 cm (Cervantes et al. 2005).

S. cunicularius is sympatric with other Lagomorphs in portions of its range, including Romerolagus diazi, Sylvilagus audubonii, S. floridanus, Lepus callotis, and L. californicus (Cervantes et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Sylvilagus cunicularius is threatened in some areas by overgrazing, hunting, and habitat destruction, which has caused the decline of some populations (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). It is also vulnerable to human-induced fires and volcanic activity. Habitat reduction has been estimated to be between 13-23% over the last three generations (Cuarón and de Grammont pers. comm.). A climate change model generated for 2050, indicated that there will be 22% range reduction (primarily along the Pacific coast, impacting S. c. pacificus) from the current potential range of this species (Martinez-Villeda 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Although abundant throughout its range, this species experiences some pressure from habitat destruction, overgrazing, and hunting (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). Due to potential loss of habitat resulting from global climate change, research should be conducted regarding population density and habitat transformation (along the Pacific coast) for S. c. pacificus, to determine the impact on survivability (Martinez-Villeda 2006).
Citation: Mexican Association for Conservation and Study of Lagomorphs (AMCELA), Romero Malpica, F.J. & Rangel Cordero, H. 2008. Sylvilagus cunicularius. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 April 2014.
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