Leopardus wiedii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA FELIDAE

Scientific Name: Leopardus wiedii
Species Authority: (Schinz, 1821)
Common Name(s):
English Margay, Tree Ocelot
Spanish Gato Montés, Caucel, Gato Pintado, Tigrillo
Taxonomic Notes: This species is genetically very diverse across its range and shows a high degree of population structure, with three distinct clusters: Central America and Mexico, northern South America and southern South America. The demarcation between northern and southern South America was identified as the Amazon river. In Central America, there were weaker differences between populations from the north (Mexico and Guatemala) and those from the south of this region (Eizirik et al. 1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
This species is declining through much of its range due to human induced conversion of native forest habitats to agriculture and pasture and is predicted to continue at a rate approaching (but less than) 30% over the next 18 years (3 generations). Although Amazonia is often considered a stronghold for the species, recent estimates suggest that the species is not as abundant as previously perceived (Oliveira et al. in submission). Over the next 10 years it is predicted that degradation of the Amazon by roads, fire and deforestation will fragment and isolate remaining populations. Protected areas outside of the Amazon are not expected to retain viable populations over the next few years (and likely do not at present) (Oliveira et al. in press). This species will likely qualify for VU A4c in the near future and should be periodically reviewed (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
History:
2002 Least Concern
1994 Insufficiently Known (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The margay ranges from the tropical lowlands of Mexico south through Central America and the Amazon basin and southern Brazil and Paraguay (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs marginally in northern Argentina and in Uruguay along riverine forest (Dotta et al. 2007). It generally occurs from 0-1,500 m; however, it has rarely been recorded up to 3,000 m in the Andes (Oliveira 1994).
Countries:
Native:
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Uruguay; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is predominantly rare throughout their range (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). In general, margays occur at densities <5 indiv/100 km², but have been estimated as high as 20 indiv/100 km² in some highly localized areas (Oliveira et al. in submission). Where ocelots co-occur, margay densities are expected to be much lower than 5 per 100 km² (Oliveira et al. in submission). The margay is negatively impacted by ocelot numbers and does not seem to attain effective population size for long term persistence in any Conservation Unit outside the Amazon basin possibly due to the “ocelot effect” (Oliveira et al. in press). Thus, viable populations are expected to occur mostly outside protected areas or where ocelot numbers are low. With the exception of the Amazon mega-reserves, it is not expected to be adequately protected anywhere else. Margays are undergoing a continuing decline due primarily to habitat loss to deforestation (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007). Considered Vulnerable in Brazil (Machado et al. 2005) and Argentina (Diaz and Ojeda 2000), and Near Threatened in Colombia (Rodriguez-Mahecha et al., 2006) and Threatened in Mexico (SEMARNAT 2002) and Costa Rica (MINAE).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The margay is strongly associated with forest habitat/tree cover, both evergreen and deciduous, although it has been occasionally reported outside forested areas (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It seems to be absent from the semi-arid scrub of the Caatinga domain in Brazil, with the possible exception of some evergreen forest enclaves (Oliveira pers. comm.). It appears to be less tolerant of human settlement and altered habitat than its close relatives, the ocelot and oncilla, but does make use of it. This species is thought to be more arboreal and better adapted to live in trees than other cat species. Margay will use highly disturbed forest, abandoned plantations and other agroforestry systems which provide sufficient tree cover (Schipper pers. comm.; Oliveira pers. comm.).

The margay is a small-sized (3.3 kg) solitary felid, with an average litter size of 1.09 (1–2) (Oliveira and Cassaro 2005). Activity pattern is predominately nocturno-crepuscular, with few records of daytime activity. Prey base consists mostly of small mammals, birds and reptiles, with average prey size at <200 g, but does include larger sized prey (>1 kg). Although margays are highly arboreal, most prey recorded are terrestrial (Oliveira 1998). The limited information on home range size varies from 1 to 20 km². The margay occurs at low population densities throughout most of its range, and its numbers/densities are negatively impacted by the larger ocelot, its potential intra-guild predator/competitor (Oliveira et al. in press, in submission).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The margay has been one of the most heavily exploited Latin American cats decades ago. Margays began to appear in international trade at a time of concern over the level of exploitation of the ocelot, and species of spotted cats in trade were rarely verified. Illegal hunting for domestic markets or for the underground skin trade has been reported to be a continuing a problem in some areas (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Current threats to this species include habitat loss, fragmentation, roads, illegal trade (pets and pelts - animals sometimes enter the pet trade), and retaliatory killing (animals are often shot due to depredation on poultry). Populations, especially outside the Amazon basin, are severely fragmented and are being reduced by habitat conversion to plantations and pasture. The species is susceptible to disease outbreaks (in Tamaulipas, MX there is an ongoing threat from disease). In Brazil, populations of the Atlantic forest are more threatened than those of the Amazon (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007)

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix I. This species is protected across most of its range, with hunting and trade prohibited in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Populations in protected areas are expected to be very low, likely because of the impact of the higher ocelot densities (Oliveira et al. in press, in submission). Further studies are required on the species ecology, demographics, natural history, and threats.

Bibliography [top]

de Oliveira, T. G. 1994. Neotropical cats: ecology and conservation. EDUFMA, São Luís, MA, Brazil.

de Oliveira, T. G. and Cassaro, K. 2005. Guia de campo dos felinos do Brasil. Instituto Pró-Carnívoros/Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo/Sociedade de Zoológicos do Brasil/Pró-Vida Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil.

Díaz, G. B and Ojeda, R. A. (eds). 2000. Libro rojo: mamíferos amenazados de la Argentina. pp. 106 pp.. Soc. Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamíferos, Buenos Aires.

Dotta, G., Queirolo, D. and Senra, A. 2007. Distribution and conservation stuatus of small felids on the Uruguyan savanna ecoregion, southern Brazil and Uruguay. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-19 September: Abstracts, pp. 105. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Eizirik, E., Bonatto, S. L., Salzano, F. M., Johnson, W. E., O'Brien, S. J., Crawshaw Jr., P. G., Vie, J.-C. and Brousset, D. M. 1998. Phylogeographic patterns and evolution of the mitochondrial DNA control region in two neotropical cats (Mammalia, felidae). Journal of Molecular Evolution 47: 613-624.

Machado, A. B. M., Drummond, G. M. and Martins, C. S. 2005. Lista da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção: Incluindo as Espécies Quase Ameaçadas e Deficientes em Dados. Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. 1996. Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Oliveira, T. G. De. 1998. Leopardus wiedii. Mammalian Species 579: 1-6.

Oliveira, T. G. de, Mazim F. D., Kasper, C. B., Tortato, M. A., Soares, J. B. G. and Marques, R. V. Submitted. Small Neotropical felids density in Brazil: a preliminary demographic assessment of the little known species. Biological Conservation.

Oliveira, T. G. de, Tortato, M. A., Silveira, L., Kasper, C. B., Mazim, F. D., Lucherini, M. Jácomo, A. T., Soares, J. B. G., Marques, R. V. and Sunquist, M. In press. Ocelot ecology and its effect in the small-felid guild in the lowland Neotropics. In: D. W. Macdonald and A. Loveridge (eds), Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Rodriguez-Mahecha, J. V., Alberico, M., Trujillo, F. and Jorgenson, J. 2006. Libro Rojo de los Mamíferos de Colombia. Serie Libros Rojos de Especies Amenazadas de Colombia. Conservación Internacional Colombia & Ministerio de Ambiente, vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial, Bogota, Colombia.

Sunquist, M. and Sunquist, F. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. University of Chicago Press.


Citation: Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C. 2008. Leopardus wiedii. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 October 2014.
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