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New records of the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) in Mexico.

The geographical distributions of the cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus) and jackrabbits (Lepus) in Mexico are poorly documented. This report represents the first record of the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) from the state of Quintana Roo and of the black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) from the state of Tlaxcala. Voucher specimens are deposited with the holdings of the Coleccion Nacional de Mamiferos (IBUNAM) of the Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City.

Only a few individual specimens of Sylvilagus floridanus have been recorded from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico; all are from the states of Campeche and Tabasco (Jones et al. 1974; Hall 1981; Dowler & Engstrom 1988). This species has not been recorded from Quintana Roo (Ramirez-Pulido et al. 1986; Sanchez-Herrera et al. 1986; Ramirez-Pulido & Castro-Campillo 1990) in the eastern region of the Peninsula, although its presence there was suggested by Navarro et al. (1990).

An adult female (IBUNAM-8344) and an adult male (IBUNAM-8345) were collected at Rancho La Ceiba, 2 km SE of Laguna Chichankanab, Municipio Jose Maria Morelos, Quintana Roo, on 22 May 1964. Details on their capture and habitat are unknown. The presence of these specimens extends the range of the species approximately 188 km to the east of Campeche, Campeche, and 102 km to the south of Chichen-Itza, Yucatan, the nearest previously recorded localities.

Selected measurements (mm) of these specimens are (female and male) respectively: total length, 485, --; length of tail, 47, --; length of hind foot, 89, --; length of ear from the notch, 85, --; greatest length of skull, 77.1, 77.0; zygomatic breadth, 37.0, 33.7; mastoid breadth, 22.0, 21.2; length of maxillary toothrow, 14.4, 13.9; width of bulla, 7.3, 7.3. Based on the color of the fur, size of the auditory bullae, and the obvious fusion of the postorbital processes with the cranium (Nelson 1909; Dowler & Engstrom 1988), these specimens are assigned to S. floridanus yucatanicus.

In central Mexico, only a few records of Lepus californicus have been reported from the states of Queretaro and Hidalgo. This region represents the southernmost known occurrence of this species in North America. Nelson (1909) suggested that L. californicus occurred in Tlaxcala and in the extreme northern part of the state of Mexico. The occurrence in the state of Mexico was later confirmed by Ceballos Gonzalez & Galindo Leal (1984). However, the presence of this species in Tlaxcala has not been documented.

Two adult specimens, a female (IBUNAM-27648) and a male (IBUNAM-27649), were collected near Capulac, Municipio Tlaxco, Tlaxcala, on 2 June 1990. This species was common at this locality based on numerous sightings. The specimens were collected early in the morning in open xeric vegetation dominated by cacti and brush. This record extends the known range for L. californicus approximately 58 km to the ESE from Irolo, Hidalgo (type locality of L. californicus festinus), the closest recorded locality.

Selected measurements (mm) of the specimens (female and male, respectively) are: total length, 580, --; length of tail, 75, --; length of hind foot, 125, --; length of ear from the notch, 145, --; weight, 2467.5 g, --; greatest length of skull, 94.0, 95.7; zygomatic breadth, 43.6, 43.9; mastoid breadth, 27.0, 26.6; length of maxillary toothrow, 16.4, 16.9; width of bulla, 10.1, 9.4.

The locality of this new record is at the southeastern border of the range of Lepus californicus festinus and is geographically separated from that of L. californicus asellus. In addition, these specimens exhibit larger ears, a gray nape, and smaller skulls (Nelson 1909) than L. californicus asellus and are most similar to L. californicus festinus. Accordingly, these specimens are assigned to L. californicus festinus.

In summary, these new records of these two species suggest a poor knowledge of their geographical distribution in Mexico rather than a recent range extension, and lead to a better understanding of their known ranges.

Resumen. -- Este informe documenta registros de distribucion nuevos para una especie de conejo y una de liebre del sur y centro de Mexico, respectivamente. El conejo cola de algodon del este (Sylvilagus floridanus) es registrado en Quintana Roo y la liebre cola negra (Lepus californicus) en Tlaxcala.


M. A. Villalba assisted during specimen collection. C. Pozo provided information on leporid holdings of the mammal collection of Centro de Investigaciones de Quintana Roo. J. Ramirez-Pulido, C. Jones and an anonymous reviewer provided valuable comments on an earlier draft. Direccion General de Asuntos del Personal Academico, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (grant IN-203793 to B. Villa-R. and F. A. Cervantes), and the IUCN/SSC Lagomorph Specialist Group (grant from the Sir Peter Scott Fund to F. A. Cervantes) supported this research.


Ceballos Gonzalez, G. & C. Galindo Leal. 1984. Mamiferos silvestres de la Cuenca de Mexico. Editorial Limusa. Mexico. Distrito Federal, 299 pp.

Jones, J. K. Jr., H. H. Genoways & J. D. Smith. 1974. Annotated checklist of mammals of the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. III. Marsupialia, Insectivora, Primates, Edentata, Lagomorpha. Ocass. Papers, Mus., Texas Tech Univ., 23:1-12.

Hall, E. R. 1981. The mammals of North America. Vol. 1. John Wiley & Sons. New York. xv + 600 + 90 pp.

Dowler, R. C. & M. D. Engstrom. 1988. Distributional records of mammals from the southwestern Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Ann. Carnegie Mus., 57(7):159-166.

Sanchez-Herrera, O., G. Tellez-Giron, R. A. Medellin & G. Urbano-Vidales. 1986. New records of mammals from Quintana Roo, Mexico. Mammalia, 50(2):275-278.

Navarro, D., T. Jimenez & J. Juarez. 1990. Los mamiferos de Quintana Roo. Pp. 351-450, in Diversidad biologica en la Reserva de la Biosfera de Sian Ka'an, Quintana Roo, Mexico (L. D. Navarro, & J. G. Robinson, eds.). Centro de Investigaciones de Quintana Roo. Chetumal, Quintana Roo., 471 pp.

Nelson, E. W. 1909. The rabbits of North America. N. Amer. Fauna, 29:1-314.

Ramirez-Pulido, J., M. C. Britton, A. Perdomo & A. Castro. 1986. Guia de los mamiferos de Mexico. Referencias hasta 1983. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa. Mexico, Distrito Federal. 720 pp.

Ramirez-Pulido, J. & A. Castro-Campillo. 1990. Bibliografia reciente de los mamiferos de Mexico 1983/1988. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa. Mexico, Distrito Federal. 120 pp.

Fernando A. Cervantes, Consuelo Lorenzo and *Mark D. Engstrom

Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biologia, UNAM Apartado Postal 70-153, Coyoacan. 04510 Mexico, D. F. Mexico and *Department of Mammalogy, Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 2C6.

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Title Annotation:GENERAL NOTES
Author:Cervantes, Fernando A.; Lorenzo, Consuelo; Engstrom, Mark D.
Publication:The Texas Journal of Science
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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