Procyon pygmaeus 

Scope:Global
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_onStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Procyonidae

Scientific Name: Procyon pygmaeus
Species Authority: Merriam, 1901
Common Name(s):
English Pygmy Raccoon, Cozumel Raccoon Bear, Cozumel Raccoon, Cozumel Island Raccoon
Taxonomic Notes: Placed in Procyon pygmaeus according to Merriam (1901), Goldman (1950), Hall (1981), Lazell (1981), and Helgen and Wilson (2005). Body size and cranial characters have been sufficient to consider P. pygmaeus a separate species (Merriam 1901, Goldman 1950, Jones and Lawlor 1965). Morphometric data from McFadden (2004) and García-Vasco (2005) support the suggestion that Pygmy Raccoon is a true dwarf and a separate species. Analysis of mtDNA indicates that this species is genetically distinct from the Yucatan Peninsula P. lotor (i.e., the closest congeneric populations; McFadden et al. 2008). Helgen and Wilson (2003) considered P. pygmaeus to be the only valid taxon among the insular raccoons from the Caribbean.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-02-11
Assessor(s): Cuarón, A.D., de Grammont, P.C. & McFadden, K.
Reviewer(s): Schipper, J. & González-Maya, J.F.
Contributor(s): Gompper, M.
Justification:
This species is considered to be Critically Endangered because of its small population size (confined to a single island) and population concentration: all individuals comprise only one subpopulation. Although multiple population estimates exist, the precautionary estimated typical total population size for Pygmy Raccoon in the wild is fewer than 250 mature individuals, and all research to date indicates a declining population. Although the actual number is likely to be very elastic over time (considering population fluctuations around tropical hurricanes) the overall trend is a rapid decline in mature individuals because of ongoing human encroachment (tourism, urban growth, development) into the very small remaining habitat fragments, invasive species (predators and pathogens), road expansion and the increasing magnitude and severity of hurricanes. Following is the rationale for Critically Endangered under C2a(ii)b:

Criterion C: small population size and decline
Based on estimates of population size including juveniles (323-955), and  an estimate that 59% of the population comprises mature individuals, the number of the latter is likely to range from 192 to 567. Following the precautionary principle by using the lower limit, the number of mature individuals is many fewer than 250.

C2a(ii): a continuing decline in the population size because of habitat loss and the effects of introduced species, with at least 90% of mature individuals in one subpopulation
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 2008 – Critically Endangered (CR)
  • 1996 – Endangered (EN)
  • 1994 – Insufficiently Known (K)
  • 1990 – Insufficiently Known (K)
  • 1988 – Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Pygmy Raccoon is confined to Cozumel Island (189 square miles; 488 km²) off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (Cuarón et al. 2004). The entire range lies between sea level and 20 m a.s.l.
Countries occurrence:
Native:
Mexico
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:104Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:526
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):20
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:All individuals comprise a single subpopulation. The total subpopulation estimate for P. pygmaeus, including juveniles, ranges from 323 (McFadden 2004) to 955 (Copa-Alvaro 2007). Considering that 59.4% of captured individuals are adults (McFadden and Mairi 2013), then the estimated number of mature individuals ranges from 192 to 567. During 2006, a total of 105 different known individuals, including juveniles, was caught, indicating a total population of at least this number (Copa-Alvaro 2007). 

Density estimates vary between sites and years, and range from 12.4 to 112 individuals/km² (McFadden 2004, Copa-Alvaro 2007).

Male-female ratios are fairly balanced: McFadden et al. (2010) conducted a subsample survey at two sites and of the total 96 Pygmy Raccoons captured, there were 47 males and 49 females. However García-Vasco (2005) found the proportion lightly skewed to females, but not significantly different from 1:1.

The species is severely affected by hurricanes and the population size fluctuates around these events. Because total population size is already severely depressed by human activities, it is increasingly difficult for the species to recover following these natural disasters. After major hurricanes, Pygmy Raccoon density can decline at a particular site by as much as 60% and the proportion of juveniles in the population can diminish significantly (Copa-Alvaro 2007). The impact of hurricanes might vary between regions or vegetation types on the island (Copa-Alvaro 2007).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:192Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Information on the ecology of Pygmy Raccoon has been summarized in Cuarón et al. (2004), McFadden (2004), and de Villa-Meza et al. (2011). Pygmy Raccoon prefers mangrove stands and sandy areas, but it is also found in semi-evergreen and sub-deciduous tropical forests and agricultural areas. Abundance varies considerable across vegetation types. Most of the population lives in the coastal areas of the island, and a large proportion of the central part of the island is uninhabited or has only a very low density. Pygmy Raccoon may inhabit areas near human settlements, and/or paved and unpaved roads (Cuarón et al. 2004, McFadden 2004, García-Vasco 2005, Copa-Alvaro 2007).

Pygmy Raccoon is mainly nocturnal, although it is not uncommon to see it during daylight (Cuarón et al. 2004, García-Vasco 2005). Generally it is solitary, but sometimes forms family groups (Jones and Lawlor 1965, Cuarón et al. 2004). McFadden and Meiri (2013) concluded that dwarfism in the Pygmy Raccoon may be an insular adaptation to the fewer resources found on Cozumel Island compared with the mainland.

It is omnivorous, with a preference for crabs followed by fruits, insects, crayfish, and small vertebrates (McFadden et al. 2006). The relevance of the different food items varies strongly between seasons and sites, and following major changes in habitat quality because of hurricanes (McFadden et al. 2006).

The Pygmy Raccoon is particularly vulnerable to introduced pathogens and diseases such as mange, rabies and dog distemper from exotic animals (Cuarón et al. 2004, McFadden 2004, Mena 2007). The parasites Eimeria nutalli, Placoconus lotoris, Capillaria procyonis, a Physaloptera sp., a mite in the family Listrophoridae, and a trematode in the family Heterophyidae have been collected from P. pygmaeus (McFadden et al. 2005). The identification of Toxoplasma gondii in some Pygmy Raccoons suggests a recent spillover from domestic cats (McFadden et al. 2005).  Pygmy Raccoon has been exposed to infectious canine hepatitis, canine distemper and feline panleukopenia viruses (McFadden et al. 2005, Mena 2007).

Pygmy Raccoons share the same mitochondrial DNA haplotypes, suggesting a recent population bottleneck that might be related to a founder effect (McFadden et al. 2008).
Systems:Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):4.4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: For information on use and trade, see under Threats.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Cozumel Island has been substantially developed for tourism. Until about 2005, Cozumel was still relatively well-conserved, with close to 90% of the island covered by natural vegetation (Romero-Nájera 2004, Romero-Nájera et al. 2007), but the situation is deteriorating rapidly. The interior of the island is less developed, but Pygmy Raccoon is rare or absent there (Cuarón et al. 2004, García-Vasco 2005, Copa-Alvaro 2007). There is only a very small area of prime raccoon habitat and this is on the coast where most of the tourist development is taking place.

The expansion and widening of the road system is fragmenting the vegetation of the island in at least three areas (Cuarón et al. 2004, de Villa-Meza et al. 2011). The widening of roads is potentially increasing their barrier effect and exacerbating their impact on the conservation of Pygmy Raccoon and other native species (de Villa-Meza et al. 2011). Most cases of Pygmy Raccoon mortality documented since 2001 have been the result of animals being run over by cars on the island's highways (García-Vasco 2005).

Alien invasive predators, such as the snake Boa constrictor, as well as domestic and feral dogs, may have an important impact on the Pygmy Raccoon population and it is confirmed that feral dogs predate them (Martínez-Morales and Cuarón 1999, García-Vasco 2005, Bautista 2006). Additionally, introduced carnivores to the island could easily become a source of parasites and pathogens that could potentially affect negatively Pygmy Raccoon populations (Cuarón et al. 2004, McFadden et al. 2005, Mena 2007). The introduction of the closely related Northern Raccoon P. lotor (there are frequent vehicle ferries between the island and mainland), usually for pets, is a risk of genetic introgression and a potential source of parasites and pathogens (Cuarón et al. 2004).

Hurricanes are the main natural threat recognized for the Cozumel biota (Cuarón et al. 2004, Perdomo 2006, Barillas 2007, Copa-Alvaro 2007). For Pygmy Raccoon, hurricanes cause drastic population decline, reduction in the proportion of juveniles, direct injury, and facilitate pathological change (Copa-Alvaro 2007, Mena 2007). The frequency, magnitude and duration of hurricanes in the Caribbean Basin is increasing (Goldenberg et al. 2001), so they are an issue of major concern because there may be a synergistic effect with anthropogenic disturbance.

Hunting and collection of Pygmy Raccoons as pets is currently not an important threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Pygmy Raccoon is endemic to and legally protected in Mexico. It is included in the official Mexican list of threatened species as "En Peligro de Extinción" (SEMARNAT 2010). An island-wide ecological ordinance programme (Programa de Ordenamiento Ecologico Local) that seeks to determine the pattern of land occupation, minimising conflict and maximising consensus among stakeholders, has recently been implemented and is in the process of being officially decreed. There are initiatives underway to establish two new protected areas on Cozumel Island. An invasive alien animal control programme is underway on the island. This programme has focused primarily on urban stray dogs and cats, and it is necessary to expand it to feral dogs and cats, House Rats Rattus rattus and House Mice Mus musculus, and the snake Boa constrictor. There is work in progress for the establishment of a captive breeding programme. An environmental education programme promotes the conservation of Cozumel endemic biota. A long-term initiative for the study and conservation of Cozumel's native biota has been undertaken, promoted and sustained by a Mexican interdisciplinary multi-institutional team. Cuaron et al (2009)  summarized the conservation initiatives which have been undertaken in order to advance the status of knowledge and conservation of Cozumel Raccoon.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.7. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability: Marginal  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Boa constrictor)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Canis familiaris)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Procyon lotor)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.1. Hybridisation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms & flooding
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Barillas, A.L. 2007. Influencia de la exposicion de borde sobre la estructura de la vegetacion de la selva mediana en la Isla Cozumel. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Bautista, S.M. 2006. Distribucion, abundancia y dieta de perros y gatos ferales en la Isla Cozumel. Instituto de Ecologıa A.C..

Copa-Alvaro, M. 2007. Efectos de los huracanes Emily y Wilma en la abundancia de mamıferos medianos en la Isla Cozumel, Mexico. Universidad Nacional Auto´noma de Mexico.

Cuarón, A.D., Martínez-Morales, M.A., Mcfadden, K.W., Gompper, M.E. and Valenzuela, D. 2004. The status of dwarf carnivores on Cozumel Island, Mexico. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 317-331.

Cuaron, A.D., Valenzuela-Galvan, D., Garcia-Vasco, D., Copa, M.E., Bautista, S., Mena, H., Martinez-Godinez, D., Gonzalez-Baca, C., Bojorquez-Tapia, L.A., Barraza, L. and de Grammont, P.C. 2009. Conservation of the endemic dwarf carnivores of Cozumel Island, Mexico. Small Carnivore Conservation 41: 15-21.

Decker, D.M. and Wozencraft, W.C. 1991. Phylogenetic analysis of recent procyonid genera. Journal of Mammalogy 72(1): 42-55.

de Villa-Meza, A., Villa-Flores, R., Cuarón, A. and Valenzuela-Galván, D. 2011. Procyon pygmaeus (Carnivora: Procyonidae). Mammalian Species 43: 87-93.

Garcia-Vasco, D. 2005. Distribucion, abundancia y aspectos poblacionales del mapache enano (Procyon pygmaeus), un carnı´voro insular endemico. Universidad Veracruzana.

Glatston, A.R. 1994. The Red Panda, Olingos, Coatis, Raccoons, and their Relatives. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Procyonids and Ailurids. IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid and Procyonid Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

Goldenberg, S.B., Landsea, C.W., Mestas-Nunez, A.M., and Gray, W.M. 2001. The recent increase in Altantic hurricane activity: causes and implications. Science 293: 474-479.

Goldman, E.A. 1950. Raccoons of North and Middle America. North American Fauna 60: 1–153.

Hall, E.R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.

Hall, E. R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. New York, John Wiley and Sons..

Helgen, K.M. and Wilson, D.E. 2003. Taxonomic status and conservation relevance of the raccoons (Procyon spp.) of the West Indies. Journal of Zoology (London) 259: 69-76.

Helgen, K.M. and Wilson, D.E. 2005. A systematic and zoogeographic overview of the raccoons of Mexico and Central America. In: V. Sanchez-Cordero and R.A. Medellin (eds), Contribuciones Mastozoologicas: en Homenaje a Bernardo Villa, pp. 221-236. Instituto de Biología e Instituto de Ecología, UNAM, Mexico.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Jones, J.K., Jr. and Lawlor, T.E. 1965. Mammals from Isla Cozumel, Mexico, with description of a new species of harvest mouse. University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History 16: 409-419.

Lazell Jr., J.D. 1981. Field and taxonomic studies of tropical American raccoons. In: National Geographic Society (ed.), National Geographic Society Research Reports.

Martinez-Morales, M.A. and Cuaron, A.D. 1999. Boa constrictor, an introduced predator threatening the endemic fauna on Cozumel Island, Mexico. Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 957-963.

McFadden, K. 2004. The ecology, evolution and natural history of the endangered carnivores of Cozumel Island, Mexico. Ph.D. Thesis, Columbia University.

McFadden, K., Sambrotto, R., Medellin, R. and Gompper, M. 2006. Feeding habits of endangered Pygmy Raccoons (Procyon pygmaeus) based on stable isotope and fecal analyses. Journal of Mammalogy 87(3): 501-509.

McFadden, K.W. and Meiri, S. 2013. Dwarfism in insular carnivores: a case study of the Pygmy Raccoon. Journal of Zoology 289(3): 213-221.

McFadden, K.W., García-Vasco, D., Cuarón, A.D., Valenzuela-Galván, D., Medellín, R.A. and Gompper, M.E. 2010. Vulnerable island carnivores: the endangered endemic dwarf procyonids from Cozumel Island. Biodiversity and Conservation 19(2): 491-502.

McFadden, K.W., Gompper, M.E. Valenzuela, D.G. and Morales, J.C. 2008. Evolutionary history of the Critically Endangered Cozumel dwarf carnivores inferred from mitochondrial DNA analyses. Journal of Zoology (London) 276(176-186).

McFadden, K.W., Wade, S.E., Dubovi, E.J. and Gompper, M.E. 2005. A serology and fecal parasitology survey of the Critically Endangered Pygmy Raccoon (Procyon pygameus). Journal of Wildlife Disease 41: 615-617.

Mena, H. 2007. Presencia de Leptospira spp. y moquillo canino en poblaciones de perros y carnı´voros silvestres en la Isla Cozumel. Universidad Nacional Auto´noma de Mexico.

Merriam, C.H. 1901. Six new mammals from Cozumel Island, Yucatan. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 14: 99–104.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Perdomo, H. 2006. Caminos como barreras para el movimiento de aves y efectos del huraca´n Wilma, en una comunidad de aves de sotobosque de la selva mediana subcaducifolia de la Isla Cozumel. Universidad Nacional Auto´noma de Mexico.

Romero-Najera, I. 2004. Distribucion, abundancia y uso de habitat de Boa constrictor introducida a la Isla Cozumel. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Romero-Najera, I., Cuaron, A.D. and Gonzalez-Baca, C. 2007. Distribution, abundance, and habitat use of introduced Boa constrictor threatening the native biota of Cozumel Island, Mexico. Biodiversity and Conservation 16: 1183-1195.

Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT). 2010. Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-SEMARNAT- 2010, Proteccion ambiental-Especies nativas de Me´xico de flora y fauna silvestres-Categorı´as de riesgo y especificaciones para su inclusio´n, exclusio´n o cambio-Lista de especies en riesgo. Jueves 30 de diciembre de Diario Oficial de la Federacion. Ciudad de Mexico.


Citation: Cuarón, A.D., de Grammont, P.C. & McFadden, K. 2016. Procyon pygmaeus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T18267A45201913. . Downloaded on 25 July 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided