Tres Marias raccoon
|Tres Marias raccoon|
|Subspecies:||P. l. insularis|
|Procyon lotor insularis
The Tres Marias raccoon (Procyon lotor insularis) is a subspecies of the common raccoon endemic on the two main islands of the Islas Marías, an archipelago off the western coast of the Mexican state of Nayarit. Although sometimes considered to be a valid species, the Tres Marias raccoon is now regarded to be a subspecies of the common raccoon, introduced to the Islas Marías in the recent past. It is slightly larger than the common raccoon and has a distinctive angular skull. There are fewer than 250 mature individuals on the islands, they are hunted by the islanders and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated their conservation status as being "endangered".
In its initial description in 1898, the Tres Marias raccoon was classified as a subspecies of the common raccoon (Procyon lotor) by Clinton Hart Merriam. In 1950, Edward Alphonso Goldman identified it as a distinct species, a view that has been upheld by most scientists until recently. In a study of a pair of mounted specimens in 2005, Kristofer M. Helgen and Don E. Wilson came to the conclusion that there are morphological differences between the Tres Marias raccoon and the subspecies Procyon lotor hernandezii of the common raccoon found on the Mexican mainland, but that they are not large enough to justify the classification as distinct species. It is therefore assumed that the Tres Marias raccoon was introduced to the Islas Marías not long ago. Subsequently, the Tres Marias raccoon was listed as a subspecies of the common raccoon in the third edition of Mammal Species of the World by Wilson and DeeAnn M. Reeder published in 2005.
The average body length of five adult males, including the tail, was stated as 84.1 cm (33.1 in) by Edward William Nelson in 1898. Three mounted specimens, which were between 84.0 and 90.4 cm (33.1 and 35.6 in) long, were measured in 2005. Samuel I. Zeveloff calls the Tres Marias raccoon large compared to an average sized common raccoon, so that it is not an example of insular dwarfism. The coat of the Tres Marias raccoon is pale and short and on its underparts only a few guard hairs cover the light brown ground hairs. The most distinctive feature compared to other subspecies is its angular skull.
In 1996, the Tres Marias raccoon was classified as endangered by the IUCN since less than 250 mature individuals were living in the wild. The subspecies Procyon insularis vicinus endemic on María Magdalena is assumed to be extinct. Since only two mounted specimens exist in museums, it will probably never be known whether it is taxonomically distinct from the subspecies endemic on María Madre. The Tres Marias raccoon is hunted by the islanders and no conservation efforts have been made to protect the species from extinction. Considering its small range, the Tres Marias raccoon was most likely never numerous, like the four other island raccoons (Cozumel raccoon, Bahaman raccoon, Guadeloupe raccoon and the extinct Barbados raccoon).
- Zeveloff, Samuel I. (2002). Raccoons: A Natural History. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Books. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-1-58834-033-7. (This source was used for the whole article unless noted otherwise.)
- Helgen, Kristofer M.; Wilson, Don E. (2005). "A Systematic and Zoogeographic Overview of the Raccoons of Mexico and Central America". In Sánchez-Cordero, Víctor; Medellín, Rodrigo A. Contribuciones mastozoológicas en homenaje a Bernardo Villa. Mexico City: Instituto de Ecología of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. p. 230. ISBN 978-970-32-2603-0. Retrieved 2008-08-09. (This source was used for the whole chapter about classification.)
- 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.
- Nelson, E. W.; Goldman, E. A. (1898). "Procyon lotor insularis subsp. nov. Tres Marias Raccoon.". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. Washington: Biological Society of Washington. 12: 17.
- Mustelid Specialist Group (1996). "Procyon insularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2007. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2008-08-05.