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Moschiola meminna

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA TRAGULIDAE

Scientific Name: Moschiola meminna
Species Authority: (Erxleben, 1777)
Common Name/s:
English White-spotted Chevrotain, Chevrotain, Indian Spotted Chevrotain, Indian Mouse Deer, White-spotted Mousedeer
French Tragule D'Inde
Synonym/s:
Moschus meminna Erxleben, 1777
Tragulus meminna Hodgson, 1843
Taxonomic Notes: Moschiola meminna was recently revised by Groves and Meijaard (2005) who restricted animals of this name to the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Previous to this, all populations within Moschiola were considered conspecific, under the name M. meminna (as the oldest in the genus) and, prior to Groves and Grubb (1987), often as Tragulus meminna. The reality of the Groves and Meijaard (2005) taxonomic hypothesis, of two distinct species of chevrotain on Sri Lanka, one each in the dry and wet zones (and perhaps a third in the hill zone), and another in India, would benefit from independent corroboration: only three wet zone skulls were available for the key analysis, making the significance of their absolute separation from the dry zone series difficult to assess. However, as skull differences co-vary with pelage and body proportions, their taxonomic proposals are followed here, in the hope that so doing will encourage the generation of further information to consolidate or modify the arrangement. The hill zone animals are not considered under this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Duckworth, J.W. & Timmins, R.J.
Reviewer/s: Black, P.A. & Gonzalez, S. (Deer Red List Authority)
Justification:
The dry zone is much too extensive to allow listing as even Near Threatened through range criteria for a species that is well distributed throughout the zone. Chevrotains remain widespread and common within this zone, surviving well, even, despite heavy hunting, outside protected areas and in artificial woody habitats such as coconut plantations. Assuming that all chevrotains in this zone are White-spotted Chevrotains, there is thus no basis to invoke any overall decline significant enough to list this species even as Near Threatened. There are, however, no data to confirm that the species' populations are stable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Moschiola meminna, as used here, is endemic to the dry zone of Sri Lanka: localities listed in Groves and Meijaard (2005: 421) suggest that it may well occur throughout this zone. This covers most of the island, except for the southwestern quarter and the central mountain range (Pocock 1939). Previous to the taxonomic revision of Groves and Meijaard (2005), no effort was made to distinguish Sri Lankan chevrotains into different forms, and so past records other than the specimens Groves and Meijaard (2005) analysed cannot be retrospectively, objectively, assigned to this species in its current taxonomic sense. No published records additional to Groves and Meijaard (2005) and following their suggested taxonomy were traced. Objective identification (i.e. not solely on the basis of habitat and location) of further animals at various localities within the island is required to test the hypothesis of Groves and Meijaard (2005) of a strict segregation of habitat between this species and M. kathygre; these authors stressed their “admittedly small sample sizes”. Currently it would therefore be rash for species-level identification to be assigned to individuals under the Groves and Meijaard (2005) taxonomic hypothesis solely on the basis of habitat.
Countries:
Native:
Sri Lanka
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species appears to be widespread, based on localities of confirmed specimens in Groves and Meijaard (2005). White-spotted Chevrotain is “fairly common in forests throughout the dry zone both inside and outside protected areas” (P. Fernando pers. comm. 2008). It is commonly found not only in all forest types within the dry zone but also in coconut plantations and home gardens (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2008). K.A.I. Nekaris (pers. comm. 2008) saw many chevrotains in the dry zone during spot-light surveys in 2001. Sri Lanka chevrotain densities of around 0.58 animals/km² reported by Dubost (2001) are likely to concern the dry zone species, but the original source has not been traced and so, without clarification of the underlying methodology and assumptions leading to the estimate, their reliability is unknown.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Other than that this chevrotain lives in deciduous vegetation formations, little information has been traced specific to the species as here defined. Information for the genus is reviewed under M. indica. It is seldom far from water (Eisenberg and Lockhart 1972). It is basically a forest species, being found commonly in all forest types within the dry zone, and also in coconut plantations and home gardens (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In past centuries, there has been a major loss of habitat available to this chevrotain and thus in its population, reflecting a rise in the human population of Sri Lanka from one million in the 19th century to twenty million now (Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne pers. comm. 2008). A number of well secured protected areas within the dry zone support chevrotains. The effects of forest degradation and fragmentation on this chevrotain are probably not severe, given its ability to survive in home gardens, coconut plantations, etc. (see Habitat and ecology). Sri Lankan chevrotains are commonly hunted in areas where conservation management was suspended during the civil war, with firearms, for their meat (Santiapillai and Wijeyamotan 2003), but it seems unlikely that this is at sufficient levels to restrain population levels within reasonably-sized blocks of remaining habitat. In the dry zone they remain fairly common in forests even outside protected areas, despite widespread hunting (P. Fernando pers. comm. 2008). Hunting techniques which could be dangerous for chevrotains include a lot of trap guns in the forest (set usually for pigs) as well as live electric wires, taken off the post, dragged through the forest and set in rice paddies (K.A.I. Nekaris pers. comm. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Many protected areas exist within the species’s range, some of which are very well secured. In the wider landscape, it is important to understand the effects of current habitat degradation trends and hunting levels upon the species.
Citation: Duckworth, J.W. & Timmins, R.J. 2008. Moschiola meminna. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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