Guadeloupe raccoon

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Guadeloupe raccoon
Procyon minor01.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Procyon
Species: P. lotor
Subspecies: P. l. minor
Binomial name
Procyon lotor minor
Miller, 1911

The Guadeloupe raccoon (Procyon lotor minor) is a common raccoon endemic on the two main islands Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre of Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles.[1]

Classification[edit]

Thought to be a distinct species in the past, two studies in 1999 and 2003 yielded the result that the Guadeloupe raccoon is a subspecies of the common raccoon (Procyon lotor). The study of its morphological and genetic traits done in 2003 by Kristofer M. Helgen and Don E. Wilson indicated that the Guadeloupe raccoon was introduced by humans just a few centuries ago. This assumption is supported by the fact that the Guadeloupe raccoon seems to be closely related to the Bahaman raccoon (Procyon lotor maynardi), which is endemic on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, an archipelago nearly 2,000 km (1,243 mi) away.[2] Therefore, the Guadeloupe raccoon is listed to be consubspecific with the Bahaman raccoon in the third edition of Mammal Species of the World and its former scientific name Procyon (lotor) minor is listed as a synonym for Procyon lotor maynardi.[3]

Description[edit]

Compared to an average sized common raccoon the Guadeloupe raccoon is small with a delicate skull, making it probably an example of insular dwarfism. The coat is dark gray with a slight ocher tint on the neck and shoulders. On the underparts only few guard hairs cover the light brown ground hairs.

Conservation[edit]

In 1996, the Guadeloupe raccoon was classified as endangered by the IUCN because its population number of less than 2,500 mature individuals has continued to decline.[4] Considering its small range, the Guadeloupe raccoon was most likely never numerous, just as well as the four other island raccoons (Cozumel raccoon, Tres Marias raccoon, Bahaman raccoon and the extinct animal of the Barbados raccoon).

The Guadeloupe raccoon suffers from the destruction of its habitat on Guadeloupe, mangrove forests and the rainforest. Furthermore, it is still hunted by the islanders for food and is threatened by the reported introduction of the crab-eating raccoon. The Guadeloupe raccoon has been chosen as emblematic species for the Guadeloupe National Park, but it may face extinction without additional conservation efforts.

On the other hand, Helgen and Wilson are of the opinion that the Guadeloupe raccoon itself could be considered to be an invasive species which poses a threat to the insular ecosystem.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zeveloff, Samuel I. (2002). Raccoons: A Natural History. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Books. pp. 42, 44. ISBN 978-1-58834-033-7.  (This source was used for all information in this article unless noted otherwise.)
  2. ^ a b Helgen, Kristofer M.; Wilson, Don E. (January 2003). "Taxonomic status and conservation relevance of the raccoons (Procyon spp.) of the West Indies". Journal of Zoology. Oxford: The Zoological Society of London. 259 (1): 69–76. doi:10.1017/S0952836902002972. 
  3. ^ Wilson, Don E.; Reeder, DeeAnn M. (2005). "Procyon". Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 627–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  4. ^ Mustelid Specialist Group (1996). "Procyon minor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2007. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2008-08-08.