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Perodicticus potto

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA PRIMATES LORISIDAE

Scientific Name: Perodicticus potto
Species Authority: (Müller, 1766)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Potto, Potto Gibbon
Spanish Poto De Bosman
Synonym(s):
Pseudopotto martini Schwartz, 1996
Taxonomic Notes: Grubb et al. (2003) recognized three subspecies; P. p. potto, P. p. edwardsi and P. p. ibeanus. Several of these subspecies may actually deserve recognition as distinct species, but they are retained here as subspecies following Grubb et al. (2003) and Pimley and Bearder (in press). Butynski and De Jong (2007) described a fourth subspecies, P. p. stockleyi, from Mt Kenya.

There has been some debate surrounding the taxonomic status of Pseudopotto martini, described by Schwartz (1996), with Groves (1998) calling attention to its distinctive features, and Sarmiento (1998) suggesting that these supposed diagnostic characters lie within the range of variation of Perodicticus potto or arose as a result of captivity. Grubb et al. (2003) note that although this is a name validly assigned to museum specimens, there are only two such specimens, and their exact locality of origin is not recorded. The latter authors were of the opinion that there was insufficient evidence that this name refers to a real, distinct population, and recommended that the name not be included in the taxonomy of African primates. Accordingly, Pseudopotto martini is here treated as a synonym of P. potto.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Oates, J.F., Butynski, T.M., Kingdon, J., Bearder, S., Pimley, E. & De Jong, Y.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern as this species is widespread and common. It may be declining in some areas, but there is no evidence of a significant range-wide population decline that would warrant listing in a higher category of threat.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species has a wide range from about Sierra Leone and south-eastern Guinea to south-western Kenya, at elevations of 600 to 2,300 m asl, with an isolated population east of the rift valley (Butynski and De Jong 2007; Pimley and Bearder in press). Surprisingly, there are no records at all for Tanzania (see Butynski and De Jong 2007).

There are four subspecies: the nominate P. p. potto (here taken to include the form "juju") is found in West Africa from Sierra Leone to the Niger River in Nigeria (there are no confirmed records for Senegal, Gambia or Guinea-Bissau); P. p. edwardsi is found from the Niger River in Nigeria east through Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea (not found on Bioko), Congo, and then south of the Congo River through Democratic Republic of Congo as far east as Irneti and as far south as Angola; P. p. ibeanus occurs from east and south of the Ubangi River, and north and east of Congo River, DR Congo, eastwards extending east of the Lualaba River to north-west Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to the Kakamega and Nandi forests and surrounds in south-western Kenya (see Butynski and de Jong 2007); and P. p stockleyi is known only from the type locality, Mount Kenya, at 1830 m, and is isolated from the nearest P. p. ibeanus population by at least 170 km (Butynski and de Jong 2007). A Potto obtained by Peirce (1975) at Muguga (2100 m) on the southern slopes of the Aberdares Range may well represent the latter subspecies.

Pseudopotto martini, originally described as a new genus but here included in the synonymy of P. potto, is currently known only from one skeleton (which came from a specimen that died at Zurich Zoo) and two skulls, as well as some undocumented sightings, around Mount Kupe, Cameroon, at 820-940 m altitude. However, this animal was never observed once on Mt Kupe during the course of two years of field work (E. Pimley pers. comm.), and only P. potto (some with long tails) were recorded.
Countries:
Native:
Angola (Angola); Benin; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Liberia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sierra Leone; Togo; Uganda
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Pottos are widespread and common. Density averages 8 – 10 animals/km² at Makokou, in north-east Gabon (Charles-Dominique 1977) and 4.7 animals/km² in mixed secondary forest and farm bush on Mt. Kupe, Cameroon (Pimley 2002). Butynski and De jong (2007) summarize encounter rates and densities for P. p. ibeanus, noting that densities range between <2 and 28 individuals/km².

The recently described P. p. stockleyi is known only from a single specimen collected in 1938.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species inhabits all strata of lowland and montane tropical moist forest, swamp forest, and other lowland forest types. It is commonest in secondary and colonising forests, and along the margins of these forests. Its diet shows distinct seasonal variation: gums are dominant during drier periods, with insects, snails, and fruits (such as figs, Musanga, Parinari, Uapaca, and Myrianthus) taken during the rains. Pottos are solitary animals, but do display some degree of sociality (Pimley et al. 2005; AMJP). Charles-Dominique (1977) recorded females ranging over 3-9 ha, and males over 9-40 ha with their ranges overlapping that of one or more females; however, Pimley et al. (2005; IJP) found no significant difference in the range area of pottos between males (mean = 30.6 ha ± 2.97) and females (mean = 31.5 ha ± 7.25). The females give birth to one young annually. Wild pottos in Gabon lived to at least nine years of age (Charles-Dominique 1977).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Pottos are known to be widespread in secondary and primary forests, and even in disturbed forest near human habitation. There are probably no major threats resulting in a range-wide population decline, but localized declines are likely taking place due to habitat loss from clear-cutting and intensive agriculture, and from hunting.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES and on Class B of the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. This species is present in many protected areas throughout its range.

It seems that the ’Mount Kenya Potto’ P. p. stockleyi either occurs at low densities or is highly local in its distribution, or (probably) both. There is also, of course, the possibility that this taxon is extinct. Determining the geographic range, abundance, and conservation status of this subspecies is a priority for primate conservation action in Kenya (see Butynski and De Jong 2007).

Bibliography [top]

Bearder, S. K., Ambrose, L., Harcourt, C., Honess, P., Perkin, A., Pimley, E., Pullen, S. and Svoboda, N. 2003. Species-typical patterns of contact, sleeping site use and social cohesion among nocturnal primates in Africa. Folia Primatologica 74: 337-354.

Butynski, T. and De Jong, Y. 2007. Distribution of the Potto Perodicticus potto (Primates: Lorisidae) in Eastern Africa, with a description of a new subspecies from Mount Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History 96: 113-147.

Charles-Dominique, P. 1977. Ecology and Behaviour of Nocturnal Primates. Duckworth, London, UK.

Groves, C. 1998. Pseudopotto martini: A new potto? African Primates 3: 42-43.

Grubb, P., Butynski, T. M., Oates, J. F., Bearder, S. K., Disotell, T. R., Groves, C. P. and Struhsaker, T. T. 2003. Assessment of the Diversity of African Primates. International Journal of Primatology 24(6): 1301-1357.

Pimley, E. and Bearder, S. In press. Perodicticus potto. In: T. Butynski, J. Kalena and J. Kingdon (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Pimley, E. R. 2002. The behavioural ecology and genetics of two nocturnal prosimians: Pottos (Perodicticus potto edwardsi) and Allen's bushbabies (Galago alleni cameronensis). Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cambridge.

Pimley, E. R., Bearder, S. K. and Dixon, A. F. 2005. Home range analysis of Perodicticus potto edwardsi and Sciurocheirus cameronensis. International Journal of Primatology 26: 191-206.

Pimley, E. R., Bearder, S. K. and Dixon, A. F. 2005. Social Organization of Milne-Edwards' Potto. American Journal of Primatology 66: 317-330.

Sarmiento, E. 1998. The validity of "Pseudopotto martini". African Primates 3: 44-45.

Schwarz, J. H. 1996. Pseudopotto martini: A new genus and species of extant lorisiform primate. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 78: 1-14.

Smeenk, C., Godfrey, L. R. and Williams, F. L. 2006. The early specimens of the potto Perodicticus potto (Statius Müller, 1776) in the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, with the selection of a neotype. Zoologische Mededelingen 80: 139-164.


Citation: Oates, J.F., Butynski, T.M., Kingdon, J., Bearder, S., Pimley, E. & De Jong, Y. 2008. Perodicticus potto. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 December 2014.
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