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Abstract

The natural history and ecology of Neotropical forest-canids and caecilian amphibians are little documented, both for their natural rarity and secretive habitats. Herein we report the Short-eared Dog Atelocynus microtis predating on the caecilian amphibian Caecilia tentaculata. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first predation event of a canid on a caecilian.
COMUNICACIÓN/COMMUNICATION SECCIÓN/SECTION B
EN CIENCIAS E INGENIERÍAS
AVANCES
First record of a canid (Atelocynus microtis) predating on a caecilian amphibian
Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia1, Diego Mosquera2
1Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales.
Diego de Robles y Vía Interoceánica, Quito, Ecuador.
2Estación de Biodiversidad Tiputini, Universidad San Francisco de Quito.
Diego de Robles y Vía Interoceánica, Quito, Ecuador.
*Autor principal/Corresponding author, e-mail: dcisneros@usfq.edu.ec
Editado por/Edited by: C. Zambrano, Ph.D.
Recibido/Received: 04/29/2010. Aceptado/Accepted: 09/19/2010.
Publicado en línea/Published on Web: 12/08/2010. Impreso/Printed: 12/08/2010.
Abstract
The natural history and ecology of Neotropical forest-canids and caecilian amphibians are
little documented, both for their natural rarity and secretive habitats. Herein we report
the Short-eared Dog Atelocynus microtis predating on the caecilian amphibian Caecilia
tentaculata. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first predation event of a canid on a
caecilian.
Keywords. Canidae, Caeciilidae, predation, Amazonia, Ecuador.
Resumen
La historia natural y ecología de los cánidos de bosques Neotropicales y de los anfibios
apodos han sido poco documentados, en ambos casos debido a su rareza natural y hábitos
reservados. Aquí reportamos un evento de predación por parte del Perro de Orejas Cortas
Atelocynus microtis sobre una Cecilia o Ilulo Caecilia tentaculata. Basados en una amplia
revisión bibliográfica, este parece ser elprimer evento de predación reportado de un cánido
sobre una cecilia.
Palabras Clave. Canidae, Caeciilidae, predación, Amazonia, Ecuador.
Figure 1: Atelocynus microtis carrying a Caecilia tentaculata.
Tiputini Biodiversity Station, 23 April 2007.
TheShort-eared Dog Atelocynus microtis (Sclater, 1883)
is a medium-sized canid found in undisturbed habitats
of western and central Amazonia of Colombia, Ecuador,
Brazil, and Bolivia [1, 2]. Despite its wide distribution,
Atelocynus microtis is one of the rarest carnivores in
the world and has been classified under the IUCN Red
List category of Near Threatened; very little is known
about its natural history [2, 3]. Data on its diet are scant
and most existing information derives from a long-term
study in Cocha-Cashu, Peru [2]. Available data suggest
that Atelocynus microtis is a generalist carnivore, with
an important dietary contribution coming from fishes,
and including insects, small mammals, fruits, amphib-
ians, crabs, birds and reptiles [2, 3, 4] . Caecilians are a
poorly understood group of tropical, limbless worm-like
fossorial amphibians of the order Gymnophiona. Their
predator–prey relationships are inadequately known, with
few reports of predators. Here, we contribute informa-
tion on the diet of Atelocynus and predators of caecilians
by reporting Atelocynus microtis feeding on a caecilian
in Ecuadorian Amazonia.
A photograph of an adult Atelocynus microtis carrying a
caecilian in the mouth was obtained on 23 April 2007 at
06:47 at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (Fig. 1). Tipu-
tini Biodiversity Station—TBS is located ca. 280 km
http://www.usfq.edu.ec/avances/B5-2-3-2010
Avances, 2010, Vol. 2, No.3, Pags. B5-B6
Avances, 2010, Vol. 2, No.3, Pags. B5-B6 Cisneros-Heredia y Mosquera
ESE from Quito, in Amazonian Ecuador (038’17”S,
7609’01”W; 190–270 m elevational range). This re-
search station is managed by Universidad San Francisco
de Quito (USFQ) and preserves a tract of 6.5 km2of
old-growth tropical forest. Primary Lowland Evergreen
Non-flooded forests cover most of TBS, with narrow
areas along the river and streams covered by flooded
forests. A photographic monitoring programme using
camera traps triggered by heat and motion was estab-
lished at TBS in December 2004. The photograph of
Atelocynus with the caecilian was taken by a camera
set along a trail located in a hilly area covered by non-
flooded forest. Identification of the caecilian was based
on its body size and colouration, a combination of fea-
tures that is diagnostic for Caecilia tentaculata (Lin-
naeus, 1758) among all Gymnophiona from Amazonia,
where it is the stouter, longer, and heavier caecilian.
As far as we are aware, this is the first report of Ate-
locynus or any other canid preying on caecilians, and
in fact the first report of Atelocynus feeding on a fosso-
rial, elongate vertebrate. Previously the only amphib-
ians reported as part of its diet have been frogs [2].
Reported predators of caecilians mainly include a va-
riety of snakes ([5, 6]; and citations therein), with occa-
sional records of spiders, ants, turtles, domestic chick-
ens, hawks, free-ranging pigs, and tenrecs preying on
caecilian [7, 8]. Caecilians have granular glands in their
skin that produce toxins, which may help dissuade preda-
tors [9], yet Atelocynus microtis did not seem to be de-
terred by toxins that Caecilia tentaculata might pro-
duce. Caecilia tentaculata inhabits most wet-forested
areas of South America east of the Andes, including the
Amazonian lowlands. The geographic range of Atelo-
cynus microtis completely overlaps that of Caecilia ten-
taculata, and predation events may not be rare. How-
ever, due to the secretive habits of both species, little
information is available on their ecological interactions.
Acknowledgements
Support for the camera-trapping project was provided
by a National Geographic Society Grant (7602-04), with
ongoing support provided by University of Missouri–St.
Louis, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and Carol
Walton Expeditions, Inc. Research permits were pro-
vided by Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador. We ex-
press our gratitude to C. Barriga de Romo, D. Romo,
Ma. E. Heredia, L. Heredia, and the entire staff of TBS
for their continuous support.
References
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... Little is known about the ecology of short-eared dogs with most available information based on anecdotal evidence (Peres 1991;Koester et al. 2008;Cisneros-Heredia & Mosquera 2010), from individuals kept in captivity in several zoos (Nowak 2005), from a study conducted on a captive male progressively reintroduced into the Peruvian rainforest, and from observations of a small number of wild individuals in Peru (Leite-Pitman et al. 2003a). Most of its life-history remains virtually unknown, with little information on demography, habitat preference, spatial use and distribution (Leite-Pitman & Williams 2004;Leite-Pitman & De Mello Beisiegel 2013). ...
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A capture of and some notes on Atelocynus microtis (sclater, 1883) (Carnivora: Canidae) in the Colombian Amazon
  • T Defler
  • A Santacruz
Defler, T. and Santacruz, A. 1994. "A capture of and some notes on Atelocynus microtis (sclater, 1883) (Carnivora: Canidae) in the Colombian Amazon". Trianea. 5, 417419.