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Arroyo Hondo, Dominican Republic

Turvey S.T.,UK Institute of Zoology | Fernandez-Secades C.,Imperial College London | Nunez-Mino J.M.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Hart T.,University of Oxford | And 4 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Local ecological knowledge is an increasingly used, cost-effective source of data for conservation research and management. However, untrained observers are more likely to provide meaningful information on species that are charismatic and easily identifiable (e.g. large-bodied vertebrates) or of socio-economic importance, and may ignore or misidentify smaller-bodied, elusive and non-charismatic species. These problems may be further exacerbated by variation in environmental awareness and perception between different socio-cultural and ethnic groups often present across the range of threatened non-charismatic species. A community-based interview survey was carried out in southern Hispaniola on both sides of the Dominican Republic-Haitian border, to investigate the usefulness of local ecological knowledge for assessing status and threats to the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium). These two small-bodied nocturnal endemic mammals are rarely targeted for bushmeat or encountered by rural community members, and may be confused with each other and with non-native small mammals. We demonstrate that, despite their elusive nature, both solenodons and hutias can be accurately identified by substantial numbers of respondents in rural communities. New quantitative data on levels of anthropogenic mortality also indicate that predation by free-roaming village dogs is responsible for numerous solenodon and hutia deaths. However, patterns of awareness and experience may be influenced by variation both in species status, ecology and distribution and in socio-cultural factors, and Dominican and Haitian respondents from the same landscapes have very different levels of awareness and experience of Hispaniolan native mammals, demonstrating an important distinction between local ecological knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge. © 2013. Source

Turvey S.T.,UK Institute of Zoology | Hansford J.,UK Institute of Zoology | Hansford J.,University of Southampton | Kennerley R.J.,UK Institute of Zoology | And 5 more authors.
Zootaxa | Year: 2015

Continued uncertainty persists over the taxonomic status of many threatened Caribbean mammal populations. Recent molecular analysis has identified three genetically isolated allopatric hutia populations on Hispaniola that diverged during the Middle Pleistocene, with observed levels of sequence divergence interpreted as representing subspecies-level differentiation through comparison with genetic data for other capromyids. Subsequent analysis of existing museum specimens has demonstrated biogeographically congruent morphometric differentiation for two of these three populations, Plagiodontia aedium aedium (southwestern population) and P. aedium hylaeum (northern population). We report the first craniodental material for the southeastern Hispaniolan hutia population, and demonstrate that this population can also be differentiated using quantitative morphometric analysis from other Hispaniolan hutia subspecies. The holotype skull of P. aedium aedium, of unknown geographic provenance within Hispaniola, clusters morphometrically with the southwestern population. The southeastern Hispaniolan subspecies is described as Plagiodontia aedium bondi subsp. nov., and is assessed as Endangered under Criterion B1a,biii,v on the IUCN Red List. Copyright © 2015 Magnolia Press. Source

Hansford J.,University of York | Hansford J.,UK Institute of Zoology | Nunez-Mino J.M.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Young R.P.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | And 4 more authors.
Systematics and Biodiversity | Year: 2012

Understanding the dynamics of the Late Quaternary Caribbean mammal extinction event is complicated by continuing uncertainty over the taxonomic status of many species. Hispaniola is one of the few Caribbean islands to retain native non-volant mammals; however, there has been little consensus over past or present levels of diversity in Hispaniolan hutias (Capromyidae: Plagiodontinae). Craniodental measurement data from modern hutia specimens, previously classified as both Plagiodontia aedium and P. hylaeum, display morphological differences between Hispaniola's northern and southern palaeo-islands using MANOVA and PCA. Although attempts to amplify mitochondrial DNA from the holotype of P. aedium were unsuccessful, this specimen is morphometrically associated with southern palaeo-island specimens. The mandibular size distribution of recent Plagiodontia specimens is unimodal, but the Late Quaternary mandibular size distribution is multimodal and displays much broader measurement spread, representing multiple extinct species. Finite Mixture Analysis was used to assess the best fit of different taxonomic hypotheses to the fossil mandibular size distribution. All retained FMA models include living hutias and P. spelaeum as distinct taxa; PCA further demonstrates that levels of morphological variation between modern hutia populations are lower than levels between living hutias and P. spelaeum, so that living hutias are interpreted as the single species P. aedium. Taxonomic differentiation for larger-bodied hutias is less well defined, but most retained models show only one larger species, for which the only available name is P. velozi. 'Plagiodontia' araeum is morphologically distinct from other species and is reassigned to Hyperplagiodontia. Hispaniola's plagiodontine fauna has lost its largest and smallest representatives; similar trends of body size selectivity in extinction risk are shown more widely across the Caribbean mammal fauna, possibly due to different regional anthropogenic threats (invasive mammals, hunting) affecting small-bodied and large-bodied mammals during the recent past. This apparent pattern of extinction selectivity is named the 'Goldilocks Hypothesis'. © 2012 The Natural History Museum. Source

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