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Lepus tibetanus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Lepus tibetanus
Species Authority: Waterhouse, 1841
Common Name/s:
English Desert Hare
Taxonomic Notes: Until the 1930s Lepus tibetanus was considered a distinct species. The first major revision (Heptner 1934) united L. europaeus, L. tolai and L. tibetanus in a single species, but Ognev (1966:154) rejected this concept, stating that "...there is much evidence against considering the common hare, the Tolai and desert hares as one species...". Next, Ellerman (in Ellerman and Morrison-Scott 1955) placed L. tibetanus as a subspecies of L. capensis, along with L. tolai; he was supported by Petter (1959, 1961). Then Harrison (1972) added L. arabicus to L. capensis. Some, however, continued to follow Ognev. Bannikov (1954), Sokolov and Orlov (1980), and Shou (1962) provided details of distribution in Mongolia and China respectively. Luo (1981) performed a cluster analysis which he interpreted as supporting Ellerman et al., but was strongly criticized by Zhao et al. (1983) for his methodology. Qui (1989) then re-analyzed the data, and found that three races of L. tibetanus were clearly separated from four races of L. tolai (although Qui continued to employ L. capensis as the species name). L. tibetanus shares certain characteristics with L. oiostolus (but not L. capensis or L. tolai) of the adjacent Tibetan Plateau, most notably the relatively long premaxillary and short nasal bones, combined with greater procumbency of the incisors, as well as other cranial and pelage characters described by Ognev (1966). Evaluation of these characters across the zones of potential contact between the ten taxon pairs comprising L. capensis sensu lato, is necessary before the taxonomy of these hares can be resolved (Hoffmann 1998).

There are currently five recognized subspecies: Lepus tibetanus centrasiaticus, L. t. craspedotis, L. t. pamirensis, L. t. stoliczkanus, and L. t. tibetanus (Hoffmann and Smith 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: China Red List & Johnston, C.H.
Reviewer/s: Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Lepus tibetanus is a widespread species. There are no data available on population status, but it is presumed that the population is not declining at a rate sufficient to qualify it for listing under a threat category.
History:
1996 Not Evaluated

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The geographic distribution of L. tibetanus includes Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, extending east through northwestern China, southern Mongolia (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). It is allo- to parapatric with L. tolai, except in the Tien Shan range where is thought to be sympatric with L. tolai (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). L. tibetanus can be found up to elevations of 3,500-4,000 m (Smith and Xie 2008).
Countries:
Native:
Afghanistan; China (Gansu, Nei Mongol, Xinjiang); Mongolia; Pakistan
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are no data regarding the population.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: L. tibetanus occurs in grassland or scrub areas of desert, semi-desert, and steppe habitats (Smith and Xie 2008). This species is primarily crepuscular, but can be observed during the day (Smith and Xie 2008). Diet varies including "herbaceous plants, seeds, berries, roots and twigs" (Smith and Xie 2008). Total length of this species is 40.1-48.0 cm (Smith and Xie 2008). Litter sizes range from three to 10 young (Smith and Xie 2008). L. tibetanus undergoes parturition one to three times a year (Smith and Xie 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The threats to this species are not known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No conservation measures are currently in place for L. tibetanus. Research should be conducted to ascertain population status, as well as taxonomic studies (see Taxonomic Notes) to elucidate species status. This species was regionally Red Listed in China as Least Concern (Wang and Xie 2004).
Citation: China Red List & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Lepus tibetanus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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