Bradypus variegatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Pilosa Bradypodidae

Scientific Name: Bradypus variegatus
Species Authority: Schinz, 1825
Common Name(s):
English Brown-throated Sloth, Bolivian Three-toed Sloth, Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth
French Aï De Bolivie, Bradype, Paresseux Tridactyle, Paresseux Tridactyle De Bolivie
Spanish Guasa, Perezoso Bayo, Perezoso Grisaceo, Perezoso Tridáctilo
Taxonomic Notes:

According to Gardner (2007) seven subspecies are recognized: B. v. boliviensis (Gray, 1871); B.v. brasiliensis Blainville, 1840; B.v. ephippiger R.A. Philippi, 1870; B.v. gorgon O. Thomas, 1926; B.v. infuscatus Wagler, 1831; B.v. trivittatus Cornalia, 1849; and B.v. variegates Schinz, 1825.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-10-06
Assessor(s): Moraes-Barros, N., Chiarello, A. & Plese, T.
Reviewer(s): Abba, A.M. & Superina, M.
Contributor(s): González-Maya, J.F.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Superina, M.
Bradypus variegatus is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution including a large part of the Amazon forest, presumed large population, its occurrence in a number of protected areas, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Bradypus variegatus ranges from Honduras in the north, through southern Central America. In South America, it ranges from Colombia into western and southern Venezuela, and south into Ecuador, eastern Peru and Bolivia, into Brazil and northern Argentina (where it is now considered to be extirpated). Its distribution overlaps with B. torquatus in the central part of the Atlantic forest (Hirsch and Chiarello 2012). In Brazil, the species currently occurs in forested areas of the Amazon, Atlantic forest, and possibly in the contact zones between these biomes and Cerrado. There are historical records of B. variegatus in the Caatinga biome (Moraes-Barros unpublished data 2010).
There are no confirmed records for B. variegatus in the Pantanal biome of Brazil, but the species might occur in the contact zones between this biome and the Amazon forest to the north. Additional field studies are necessary in order to properly define the current species distribution in the Cerrado, Caatinga and Pantanal.

The southernmost distribution of this sloth in Brazil was reported by Cabrera (1957) as the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which could, however, not be confirmed (Gardner 2007). It is historically absent from the state of Santa Catarina (Brazil) and northeastern Argentina; the southernmost confirmed record of the species is near Londrina, in the state of Paraná, Brazil, but today it is considered extinct in this state (Mikich and Bernils 2004). The last record from Argentina was collected in Jujuy province and dates back to 1916 (Vizcaíno et al. 2006), but field studies specifically aiming at this species are lacking from this country. Bradypus variegatus is found from sea level to at least 2,400 m asl (Ureña et al. 1986).
Countries occurrence:
Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil (Acre, Alagoas, Amazonas, Bahia, Brasília Distrito Federal, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraíba, Paraná, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rondônia, Roraima, São Paulo, Sergipe, Tocantins); Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Possibly extinct:
Argentina (Jujuy)
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:10000000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Upper elevation limit (metres):2400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Population densities of B. variegatus have been estimated at 2.2 to 6.7 animals per hectare in the Brazilian Amazon (Queiroz 1995), 8.5 animals per hectare in Panama (Montgomery and Sunquist 1975), 0.6 to 4.5 animals per hectare in the tropical dry forest of Colombia (Acevedo and Sanchez 2007) and 0.7 animals per hectare on Isla Palma, Valle, Colombia (Carvajal-Nieto et al. 2013). No demographic information is available from the remaining area of distribution. Bradypus variegatus is commonly found in public squares, where densities can reach 12.5 animals per hectare (Manchester and Jorge 2009).

Recent phylogeographic studies reveal that B. variegatus from the Central American, Western Amazon and Atlantic forests constitute distinct and unique evolutionary units that are distinguishable by molecular and morphological traits.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Bradypus variegatus has been recorded from a number of forest types including seasonal mesic tropical forest, semi-deciduous forest (inland Atlantic Forest), cloud forest, and lowland tropical forest. It inhabits cacao (Theobroma cacao) plantations in Costa Rica (Vaughan et al. 2007, Ramirez et al. 2011). This sloth species produces one litter of one infant at intervals of at least 19 months (T. Plese pers. comm. 2010). Mating period varies depending on the year and geographical region, but occurs mainly in spring (i.e., from July to November in South America and from February to May in Central America).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):6

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In Brazil, especially in the northeastern region and in the Amazon, and in Colombia the common sloth is hunted and sold in public markets as food, medicine, and as a pet species. In several touristic sites, B. variegatus is used by locals to entertain visitors.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It appears that there are no major threats to B. variegatus at the global level. Nevertheless, some subpopulations, especially in Colombia and the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, are declining due to deforestation leading to severe habitat degradation and fragmentation. The lowest levels of genetic diversity of the species were observed in the Atlantic Forest; they were similar to the levels observed in the Critically Endangered Bradypus pygmaeus (Silva 2013). Furthermore, they are hunted by local indigenous communities. Wild-caught individuals, especially offspring, are sold as pets to tourists in Colombia (Moreno and Plese 2006). This illegal trade is increasing and represents a cause of concern due to its impact on the wild populations. Mortality on roads also occurs.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Bradypus variegatus is present in many protected areas. It is included in CITES Appendix II.

Classifications [top]

14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.8. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.7. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:Unknown
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%)   
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%)   
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%)   
→ 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:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

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Citation: Moraes-Barros, N., Chiarello, A. & Plese, T. 2014. Bradypus variegatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T3038A47437046. . Downloaded on 25 June 2017.
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