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Mustela frenata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA MUSTELIDAE

Scientific Name: Mustela frenata
Species Authority: Lichtenstein, 1831
Common Name(s):
English Long-tailed Weasel
Spanish Comedreja Andina

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Reid, F. & Helgen, K.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
This species is listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range and is relatively common across its range. This species is tolerant to a moderate amount of land-use change and can often benefit from human presence. However, M. frenata populations generally fluctuate, and they frequently become locally extinct in response to changes in prey numbers (King 1989).
History:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Long-tailed weasels have the largest distribution of any mustelid in the Western Hemisphere. The range of the long-tail weasel includes most of North America, extending from just north of the United States-Canadian border and south to Central America to northern South America (Sheffield and Thomas, 1997). In South America it is known from Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia (Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons and Feer, 1990; King, 1989).
Countries:
Native:
Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Canada; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Long-tailed weasels are widespread and fairly common throughout their range (Wilson and Ruff, 1999). M. frenata is difficult to census. Estimates of densities vary widely by habitat and prey availability (King, 1989). Population density was found to vary from about 1/2.6 ha to 1/260 ha (Nowak, 2005). Jackson (1961) found population density averages 1 per 7-40 acres, depending upon habitat and environmental conditions (Baker 1983). M. frenata populations are more stable than those of M. erminea or M. nivalis. However, M. frenata populations generally fluctuate, and they frequently become locally extinct in response to changes in prey numbers (King, 1989).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Found in a wide variety of habitats, usually near water. Favored habitats include brushland and open woodlands, field edges, riparian grasslands, swamps, and marshes (Sheffield, in Wilson and Ruff 1999). Dens are in abandoned burrow made by other mammal, rock crevice, brushpile, stump hollow, or space among tree roots; one individual may use multiple dens. Tolerant of close proximity to humans.

M. frenata is usually most abundant in late seral stages or ecotones where prey diversity is greatest (Wilson and Ruff, 1999). Its diet consists mainly of rodents and other small mammals. It is primarily nocturnal but is frequently active by day. It can climb and swim, but apparently not as well as M. erminea. Waterways provide access to suitable habitat and are a natural avenue far dispersal, particularly in areas that otherwise are unsuitable (Fagerstone, 1987). Home ranges vary from 4 to 120 ha and may overlap. Basically solitary, though more social where prey is abundant and habitat optimal.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Movements of radio-tagged weasels in Indiana were consistent with the notion that long-tailed weasels may be sensitive to agriculturally induced fragmentation of habitat and the importance of maintaining landscape connectivity for species conservation (Gehring and Swihart, 2004). Additional threats include monoculture and drainage of wetlands. Perhaps affected directly and indirectly by pesticide use (effects on reproduction, habitat, and/or food supply).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species occurs in many protected areas across its range.

Citation: Reid, F. & Helgen, K. 2008. Mustela frenata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 July 2014.
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