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Natural history of the Chinchilla genus (Bennett 1829). Considerations of their ecology, taxonomy and conservation status

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Abstract

Over the last years there has been new and valuable information in both wild chinchillas, however this is still insuffi cient for effective protection. In this paper we review some fundamental aspects of its natural history, synthesizing and delivering new information about their ecology, taxonomy and conservation status, based on the review of available literature, and fi eld data collection. In relation to their ecology we have been identifi ed new colonies of both species, for scientifi c research as well as environmental technical reports. For most of these colonies we identifi ed vegetation to which they are associated, predators and other sympatric rodent species. The taxonomy of these species is controversial. A proposal was submitted to ICZN in 2003, and the recommendations were to describe a neotype for genus and species, but the original specimens described by Bennett (1829), Lichtenstein (1830) and Waterhouse (1844) are in museums from Europe and should be considered as syntypes. Conservation status of both species is critically endangered because most colonies are threatened by mining exploitation. Therefore, it is essential to explore new regions to identify new colonies and compare them with modern methods such as molecular markers. Finally, with this information we argue the need to develop a conservation programs for both species; it should consider critical areas of their biology, such as ecology, genetics and reproduction. KEYWORDS: Chinchilla, conservation plans, critical endangered, distribution, endemism, new colonies.
135
Natural history of the Chinchilla genus (Bennett 1829). Considerations
of their ecology, taxonomy and conservation status
Historia natural del género Chinchilla (Bennett 1829). Consideraciones de su ecología,
taxonomía y estado de conservación
PABLO VALLADARES FAÚNDEZ1*, ÁNGEL SPOTORNO OYARZÚN2 & CARLOS ZULETA RAMOS 3
1Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Tarapacá. Avenida General Velásquez 1775, Arica, Chile.
2Laboratorio de Citogenética Evolutiva, Programa de Genética Humana, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de
Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
3Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de La Serena, Casilla 599, La Serena, Chile.
*Email: pvalladares@uta.cl
ABSTRACT
Over the last years there has been new and valuable information in both wild chinchillas, however this is still insuf cient
for effective protection. In this paper we review some fundamental aspects of its natural history, synthesizing and delivering
new information about their ecology, taxonomy and conservation status, based on the review of available literature, and
eld data collection. In relation to their ecology we have been identi ed new colonies of both species, for scienti c research
as well as environmental technical reports. For most of these colonies we identi ed vegetation to which they are associated,
predators and other sympatric rodent species. The taxonomy of these species is controversial. A proposal was submitted
to ICZN in 2003, and the recommendations were to describe a neotype for genus and species, but the original specimens
described by Bennett (1829), Lichtenstein (1830) and Waterhouse (1844) are in museums from Europe and should be
considered as syntypes. Conservation status of both species is critically endangered because most colonies are threatened
by mining exploitation. Therefore, it is essential to explore new regions to identify new colonies and compare them with
modern methods such as molecular markers. Finally, with this information we argue the need to develop a conservation
programs for both species; it should consider critical areas of their biology, such as ecology, genetics and reproduction.
KEYWORDS: Chinchilla, conservation plans, critical endangered, distribution, endemism, new colonies.
RESUMEN
En los últimos años se ha generado nueva y valiosa información de las dos especies silvestres de chinchillas; sin embargo
ésta sigue siendo insu ciente para una protección efectiva. En este trabajo hacemos una revisión de algunos aspectos
fundamentales de su historia natural, sintetizando y entregando nuevos antecedentes de su ecología, taxonomía y estado de
conservación, en base a la revisión de la literatura disponible, y toma de datos en el campo. En relación a su ecología, hemos
identi cado nuevas colonias de ambas especies, tanto por investigación cientí ca como por reportes técnicos ambientales.
Para la mayoría de esas colonias se ha identi cado la vegetación a la que están asociadas, depredadores y otras especies
de roedores simpátridos. La taxonomía de ambas especies ha sido controversial. Una propuesta fue sometida a la ICZN en
el 2003 y las recomendaciones fueron describir un neotipo para el género y ambas especies; sin embargo, los especímenes
originales descritos por Bennett (1829), Lichtenstein (1830) y Waterhouse (1844) existen en museos de Europa y deben
ser considerados como los respectivos sintipos. Finalmente, el estado de conservación de estas especies ha sido catalogado
como críticamente en peligro tanto por instituciones nacionales como internacionales, esto debido a que la mayoría de
las colonias son pequeñas, fragmentadas y aisladas, sin embargo, ahora la mayor amenaza es la relación geográ ca de
las nuevas colonias con áreas de explotación minera. Se argumenta con esta información la necesidad de desarrollar un
programa de conservación de ambas especies, que considere ámbitos fundamentales de la biología de la especie, tales como
la ecología, genética y reproducción.
PALABRAS CLAVES: Chinchilla, conservation plans, critical endangered, distribution, endemism, new colonies.
Gayana 78(2): 135-143, 2014. ISSN 0717-652X
Gayana 78(2), 2014
136
INTRODUCTION
The Chinchilla genus (Bennett 1829) comprises two wild and
endemic species of Chile, Chinchilla chinchilla (Lichtenstein
1830) commonly known as short-tail or andean chinchilla,
and C. lanigera (Molina 1782), commonly known as the
long-tail or coastal chinchilla. Both chinchillids species had
a wide distributions; short tail chinchilla includes historical
distribution from Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia (Chacón
1892; Walle 1914; House 1953; Grau 1986; Jiménez 1996;
Anderson 1997; Eisenberg & Redford 2000; Parera 2002;
Woods & Kilpatrick 2005) and coastal chinchilla ranges
from Choapa river (32°S) to north Potrerillos (26°S) (Grau
1986; Jiménez 1996). Actually the distribution is restricted
to few, small and fragmented colonies (Valladares 2012;
Valladares et al. 2012).
In relation to ecology, the knowledge for both species is
very poor (Jimenez 1996). Studies conducted during the
last few decades have been restricted to ecophysiology
(Cortés et al. 2000; Ostojic et al. 2002; Cortés et al. 2003),
diet (Cortés et al. 2002; Tirado et al. 2012) and distribution
(Valladares 2012; Valladares et al. 2012; Valladares et al.
2014). There are little information about social behavior,
predators, competitive species and null information about
temporal abundance.
About the taxonomy, the major biological questions is
the number of species of chinchillas to be recognized
(Anderson 1997), one (Osgood 1941, 1943, Allen 1942);
two (Cabrera &Yepes 1960; Cabrera 1961; Spotorno et
al. 2004a), or three (Prell 1934a; Bidlingmaier 1937), but
according to Miller et al. (1983) this taxonomic issue could
never be resolved because there were no wild colonies.
Other unresolved topics in taxonomy is the determination of
a neotype for the Chinchilla genus (Bennet 1829), lanigera
(Molina 1782) and chinchilla (Lichtenstein 1830) species,
to contribute to the taxonomic stability suggested by the
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
(ICZN - case 3278; Valladares & Spotorno 2003).
The critical conservation status for both species is derived
by the more than 20 million specimens that were killed
only in Chile at the beginning of twentieth century (Albert
1900, 1901; Iriarte & Jaksic 1986). Although both species
were considered extinct during 1960´s, C. chinchilla was
rediscovery by Spotorno et al. (1998) and Valladares et al.
(2012); and C. lanigera by Mohlis (1983) and Spotorno et
al. (2004a).
In this work we present a timely update on past reviews of
information, which will be a useful tool for both planning
future conservation efforts and mitigation of human–
wildlife con icts, such as the mining exploitation.
METHODS
To evaluate the ecology and conservation status of both
species, we revisited scienti c information (e.g. Jiménez
1987, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996; Spotorno et al. 1998; Cortés
et al. 2002; Spotorno et al. 2004a,b; Valladares 2012;
Valladares et al. 2012; Tirado et al. 2012) and technical and
public reports. In other hand, we took eld data to assess
the vegetation associated with the colonies of chinchillas,
as well as the sympatric species of rodents and predators
(Valladares et al. 2014).
To evaluate the taxonomy, we assessed old papers and collect
speci c information from curators of European and South
American collections, for example the National Museum of
Natural History, Leiden, Holland; Natural History Museum
of London, England, and Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz
Institut for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity at the
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, Museo Argentino
de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, Argentina.
RESULTS
ECOLOGY
Colonies from Las Chinchillas National Reserve were
characteristic by ranging between 0,9 to 10.7 individuals/
ha. Most of the scattered colonies were located on steep and
dry equatorial-facing slopes, where long-tail chinchillas eat
the succulent bromeliad Puya berteroniana. Their refuges
corresponded to rock crevices and boulder piles (Jiménez
1987, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996). The main plant species
eaten by C. lanigera was the perennial graminoid Nassella
chilensis, and secondarily Heliotropium stenophyllum,
Lobelia polyphylla, Bridgesia incisifolia and Adiantum
chilense (Cortés et al. 2002). They coexisted with a diverse
assemblage of rodents such as Abrocoma bennetti, Abrothrix
olivaceus, A. longipilis and Octodon degus (Muñoz-
Pedreros & Gil 2009). The main predators of the chinchillas
in Coquimbo region were the foxes Lycalopex culpaeus and
L. griseus (Muñoz-Pedreros & Gil 2009). Other biological
aspects such as reproduction, growth, and dispersion are
unknown. The diet as well as predators of the small and
isolated colony at La Higuera are unkown. In relation to
the Atacama colony, it was located 44 km from the coast,
and inhabits in the middle of a very arid hill, approximately
1150 m in height, and surrounded by extensive dunes of the
Atacama Desert (Valladares et al. 2014). Forty two points
with feces, footprints and/or wallows were identi ed, nine of
them showing recent activity. The vegetation was identi ed
as Heliotropium sclerocarpum, Tetragonia microcarpa,
Gymnophytum exuosum, Nolana sp., and particularly
Eriocyse aurata, probably the main source of water and
food, with 87% of its cactus gnawed by rodents. No other
137
Natural history of the Chinchilla genus: PABLO VALLADARES FAÚNDEZ ET AL.
sympatric species were reported, but Phyllotys darwini
was collected near there (Valladares 2012). An owl Bubo
magallanicus was observed as the unique predator (Table
1), although foxes were occasionally observed by mining-
workers (Valladares et al. 2014).
Colonies of C. chinchilla from Antofagasta region
are associated to Parasthrephia lepydophylla, P.
quadrangularis, Baccharis incarum, Chuquira gaulicina
and Adesmia horrida (Spotorno et al. 1998), Baccharis
tola, Adesmia caespitosa, A. erinacea, Fabiana byroides,
Stipa chrysophylla and Cristaria andicola (Tirado et al.
2012), with preferences in diet to S. chrysophylla (59,1%).
Its colonies are sympatric with Abrocoma cinerea, Phyllotis
cf xanthopygus, Abrothix andinus dolichonyx and Lama
guanicoe (Spotorno et al. 1998; Tirado et al. 2012). The
habitat for the Atacama colonies corresponded to a stream
with boulders, and medium-sized caves, with sparse scrub
vegetation of Stipa frigida and Senecio volckmannii (Table
1). Other species of rodents were Phyllotis cf xanthopygus
and Abrothrix andinus (Valladares et al. 2012). A second
colony was detected at a northern site, in Santa Rosa
lagoon (26º49’11”S and 69º05’67”W), corresponding to the
northern area of the National Park, where remains of a jaw
and feces were found. The principal predator identi ed in
the three recognized colonies is Lycalopex culpaeus (Lagos
et al. 2012).
TAXONOMY
Both actually recognized species (C. lanigera y C.
chinchilla) has had a controversial taxonomy. Bennett
(1829) commented the original description of lanigera by
Molina, saying that it had “much error and few thruth”.
Nevertheless, the original descriptions were not in doubt,
until Prell (1934a,b). He rejected Molina’s name as
ambiguous, unidenti able, or even applicable to a different
animal of the genus Abrocoma or “chinchilla rat”, which
lives in the same territory. The acceptance of this latter
interpretation would alter the nomenclature of that genus,
because lanigera of Molina would be an older name than
names now used for species of Abrocoma. In such case,
the chinchilla of the Andes and coastal mountains south to
Illapel would be without speci c name, and he proposed
Chinchilla velligera. On other hand, Lichtenstein (1830)
described Eriomys chinchilla from Perú, near Lima (Prell
1934a; Osgood 1941, 1943), or probably north of Chile
(Allen 1942). Waterhouse (1848) described Chinchilla
brevicaudata from Perú, but according with Osgood (1943),
it was based on the same specimens as Eriomys chinchilla
Lichtenstein, evidently a renaming to avoid tautonomy.
The northern chinchilla has received several names,
Callomys aureus d´Orbignyi & Geoffroy (1830), Chinchilla
major Trouessart (1898), Chinchilla boliviana Brass
(1911), Chinchilla intermedia Dennler (1939), Chinchilla
lanigera boliviana and Chinchilla lanigera brevicaudata
Allen (1942), Chinchilla chinchilla and Chinchilla
boliviana Prell (1934b), Chinchilla c. chinchilla and C. c.
boliviana Osgood (1941, 1943), Chinchilla brevicaudata
brevicaudata and C. brevicaudata boliviana (Cabrera 1961)
but nobody designated a type specimen. Cabrera (1960,
1961), Ipinza (1969), Tamayo & Frassinetti (1980) and
Woods (1993); Redford & Eisenberg (1992) and Spotorno
et al. (2004a,b) recognized C. lanigera Molina (1782) and
C. brevicaudata Waterhouse (1848); but Anderson (1997)
and Valladares (2002) recognized C. chinchilla Lichtenstein
(1830) for the “short tail” chinchilla species. Valladares
(2002) and Spotorno et al. (2004a) recognized two species
based in molecular divergence from part of cytocrome b
gene sequences. Tate (1935) recognized Chinchilla as the
genotype and the species lanigera Molina, but he was not
sure about the taxonomic position of Chinchilla chinchilla
and Chinchilla brevicaudata.
According to Smeenk (in litt), Waterhouse (1848) described
C. brevicaudata based in three specimens identi ed as
Eriomys chinchilla, one at the Berlin Museum (not seen by
him) and two at the Leyden Museum, which he measured
himself. Both specimens were collected or obtained by
D´Orbigny and Prévost and described as a new species by
Waterhouse. D´Orbigny collected in Bolivia between July
1830 and June 1833. He stayed in La Paz from 19 April to 27
June 1833; he arranged and packed his collections amassed
during his various expeditions in the country. La Paz may
have been only the place where the specimens were acquired
or shiped rather than the exact collecting locality. Specimens
obtained by Prévost from Chile are not further documented;
the Leiden Museum received some mammals from him in
1835 and 1839. According to Smeenk, both specimens were
determined as syntypes (RMNH.MAM.39393 y RMNH.
MAM.39394). On the other hand, the specimen reviewed by
Lichtenstein was deposited in the Museum für Naturkunde,
Leibniz Institut for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity
at the Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, with number
BZN1878; on the label is determined as Eriomys chinchilla,
collected by Salmin in Perú. Finally, the specimen reviewed
by Bennett is deposited on Collection of Department
of Zoology (Mammals sections) of the Natural History
Museum of London (code GMCM 54a1).
In the absence of consensus on the priority of the species
name, the matter was referred to the International
Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN - case
3278), appealing to Article 23 of the Code of Zoological
Nomenclature (4th Edition) establishing the Law of Priority
over the name most commonly used. This request was
answered on September 1, 2003, stating that the speci c
Gayana 78(2), 2014
138
epithet chinchilla is the oldest available for the species
and is therefore valid. It was also suggested to determine a
neotype for the Chinchilla genus (Bennet 1829), lanigera
(Molina 1782) and chinchilla (Lichtenstein 1830) species to
contribute to taxonomic stability.
CONSERVATION STATUS
In relation to the conservation status, Cofré & Marquet
(1999), based on a Priority Conservation Index, cataloged C.
chinchilla in an ‘Endangered’ category. According to these
authors, C. chinchilla had features such as geographical
distribution of 85.000 km2, with a local abundance of 63.1
ind/km2, inhabit two countries and is mentioned in another
list of conservation as “rare”, “undetermined or inadequately
known.” In light of the background found in the literature,
there are still doubts about its range, as it can be restricted
just to three colonies (Valladares et al. 2012). The short tail
chinchilla was considered extinct in Peru and Bolivia (Honaki
et al. 1982; Bernal & Silva 2003), but today in Bolivia this
species is considered “Critically Endangered”, since it is still
possible to nd wild populations. This position is supported
by information from residents of the southern department
of Potosi (Tarifa 2009). In Perú, it was recently listed as
“Critically Endangered” by Supreme Decree N º 034-2004-
AG, although there is no data supporting the presence of this
species in this country. Meanwhile in Argentina, the species
has been listed as “Critically Endangered” (Díaz & Ojeda
2000; Chébez & Olivera 2008). In Chile, C. chinchilla
has been evaluated as “Endangered” by the Regulation of
the Law of Hunting (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero 2012).
CONAF published in 1988 the Red Book of Vertebrates in
Chile, cataloging this species as “Endangered”. The species
is “Extinguished” in the Tarapacá region, and “Endangered”
in the Antofagasta and Atacama regions (Muñoz-Pedreros
& Gil 2009). In any case, the short tail chinchilla has been
classi ed as “Critically Endangered” by CITES (http://
cites.org/eng/resources/species.html), by IUCN (D’Elia &
Ojeda 2008a), and by the Evolutionary Distinct & Globally
Endangered program (EDGE, www.edgeofexistence.org/
mammals/top_100.php) (Table 2), without conservation
attentions and further surveys to establish the location
of wild populations of this species as well as urgent
conservation actions. C. chinchilla is currently classied as
“Endangered” or “Critically Endangered”, but not Extinct
by Perú, Bolivia and Argentina. Interestingly, the absence of
wild living specimen’s collection has not been documented
along this extensive area.
C. lanigera has been classi ed as “Endangered” by CONAF
(1988), but they specify that it is considered “Extinct” in
the Antofagasta and Atacama regions, and as “Endangered”
in the Coquimbo region. By the Regulation of the Law of
Hunting (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero 2012), it has been
evaluated as “Endangered” for north and central Chile,
and “Critically Endangered” by IUCN (D’Elia & Ojeda
2008b), due to “a drastic past and an ongoing declination
of the population, estimated to be more than 90% over the
past three generations (15 years). This species has been
reduced to a fraction of the original distribution and is under
continuing pressures due to illegal hunting and reduction of
habitat quality”. C. lanigera was evaluated as “Critically
Endangered” by the Evolutionary Distinct & Globally
Endangered program (EDGE, www.edgeofexistence.org/
mammals/top_100.php), without conservation attentions
and further surveys to establish the location of wild
populations of this species with urgent conservation actions
(Table 2). Both species were evaluated by Ministerio del
Medio Ambiente of Chile as Critically Endangered for C.
chinchilla and Endangered for C. lanigera.
Currently, the greatest threat to these species is the proximity
of their colonies to mining exploitation areas. In the case of
C. lanigera, colonies of “Las Chinchillas” National Reserve
and other external colonies of the reserve, are near to the
mineral project “El Espino” in the Coquimbo region (see
http://seia.sea.gob.cl), but the base line of this project did not
recognized the presence of chinchillids in the in uence area,
although the National Reserve “Las Chinchillas” is only to 8
kms south. A colony reported by a mining company “Cerro
Blanco” from White Mountain Titanium Corporation,
near to Vallenar, Atacama region, where in their line base
mentioned a record of C. lanigera in winter, 2012 (see
http://seia.sea.gob.cl). On the other hand, colonies of C.
chinchilla from Atacama region were reported nearly to a
mineral project (Valladares et al. 2012; Lagos et al. 2012),
but other new colonies were recently identi ed by others
companies, for example the prospection and exploration of
the “Salares 7” from Salares Lithium Company (see http://
seia.sea.gob.cl), where in their line base of vertebrates show
a photography of footprints of C. brevicaudata [sic], and
“Salares Norte Mining” from Gold Fields Salares Norte
Company (see http://seia.sea.gob.cl), where in their base
line show photograph’s of short tail chinchilla.
139
Natural history of the Chinchilla genus: PABLO VALLADARES FAÚNDEZ ET AL.
LOCALITY COORDINATES HIGH VEGETATION DIET OTHER RODENTS PREDATORS THREATHENED WPA
Chinchilla chinchilla
Morro Negro,
Antofagasta region
25º00’S,
68º45’W over 4000 Baccharis tola A. erinacea Abrocoma cinerea no identi ed no identi ed Llullaillaco
National Park
Adesmia caespitosa S. chrysophylla Abrothrix andinus
dolichonyx
Adesmia erinacea Phyllotis rupestris
Fabiana byroides Eligmodontia puerulus
Stipa chrysophylla
Cristaria andicola
El Laco,
Antofagasta region
23º44’S,
67º28’W 3500 Parasthrephia
lepydophylla unknow Abrothrix andinus
dolichonyx Galictis cuja mining
exploitation -
P. quadrangularis Phyllotis rupestris Puma concolor
Baccharis incarum Eligmodontia puerulus
Chuquiraga ulicina Abrocoma cinerea
Adesmia horrida
Quebrada Piedras
Lindas, Atacama
region
27º28’S,
69º00’W over 4000 Stipa frigida unknow Phyllotys cf xanthopygus Puma concolor mining
exploitation
Nevado Tres
Cruces National
Park
Senecio volkmanii Abrothrix andinus Lycalopex culpaeus
Lagidium viscacia
Chinchilla lanigera
Aucó,
Coquimbo region
31°30´S,
71°06´W 400 - 1900 Nassella chilensis N. chilensis Octodon degus Lycalopex culpaeus
road and
mining
exploitation
Las Chinchillas
National Reserve
Heliotropium
stenophyllum B. incisfolia Abrocoma bennetti Lycalopex griseus
Lobelia polyphylla P. chilensis Abrothrix longipils Galictis cuja
Bridgesia incisifolia L. polyphylla Abrothrix olivaceus Bubo magallanicus
Adiantum chilense H. stenophylum Olygoryzomys
longicaudatus Buteo melanoleucus
Puya berteroniana Phyllotis darwini
Porlieria chilensis
Corral de Piedras, La
Higuera,
Coquimbo region*
29°53´S,
70°52´W 800 Balsamocarpon
brevifolium unknow Abrothrix olivaceus Buteo polyosoma no identi ed -
TABLE 1. Ecological characteristics of C. chinchilla and C. lanigera, cited by Jiménez 1987, 1989, 1995, 1996, Spotorno et al. 1998, Spotorno et al. 2004a,b, Mohlis 1983, Valladares
2012, Valladares et al. 2012, Cortés et al. 2002, Lagos et al. 2012, Tirado et al. 2012, * this work. WPA: Wild Protected Areas.
TABLA 1. Características ecológicas de C. chinchilla y C. lanigera, citado por Jiménez 1987, 1989, 1995, 1996, Spotorno et al. 1998, Spotorno et al. 2004a,b, Mohlis 1983, Valladares
2012, Valladares et al. 2012, Cortés et al. 2002, Lagos et al. 2012, Tirado et al. 2012, * este trabajo. **pruebas indirectas. WPA: Áreas Silvestres Protegidas.
Gayana 78(2), 2014
140
Bridgesia incisifolia Octodon degus Conepatus chinga
Cordia decandra Phyllotis darwini Galictis cuja
Echinopsis chiloensis Spalacopus cyanus Buteo melanoleucus
Ephedra chilensis Lycalopex culpaeus
Eulychnia acida
Lycalopex griseus
Flourensia thurifera
Krameria cistoidea
Fundo El Durazno
Coquimbo región**
29°16´S,
65°39´W 706 Adesmia confusa unknow Abrocoma bennetti Galictis cuja mining
exploitation
Private Protected
Area
Bridgesia incisifolia Abrothrix longipils Buteo melanoleucus
Echinopsis chiloensis Abrothrix olivaceus Leopardus colocolo
Eulychnia acida Lagidium viscacia Lycalopex culpaeus
Puya berteroniana Octodon degus Lycalopex griseus
Senna cumingii Olygoryzomys
longicaudatus
Phyllotis darwini
Quebrada Curico
Coquimbo región*
29°88´S,
65°07´W 700 Acacia caven unknow Abrocoma bennetti Bubo magellanicus mining
exploitation -
Adesmia argentea Octodon degus Buteo melanoleucus
Adesmia confusa Phyllotis darwini Lycalopex culpaeus
Bridgesia incisifolia Spalacopus cyanus Lycalopex griseus
Colliguaja odorifera
Echinopsis chiloensis
Ephedra chilensis
Eulychnia acida
Flourensia thurifera
Maytenus boaria
Senna cumingii
new locality,
Atacama región*
26°55´S,
70°21´W 1135 Heliotropium
sclerocarpum unknow Phylotys darwini Bubo virginianus mining
exploitation -
Tetragonia microcarpa Lycalopex sp
Gymnophytum
exuosum
Nolana sp.
Eriocyse aurata
LOCALITY COORDINATES HIGH VEGETATION DIET OTHER RODENTS PREDATORS THREATHENED WPA
141
Natural history of the Chinchilla genus: PABLO VALLADARES FAÚNDEZ ET AL.
DISCUSSION
The past distributions of both wild species were indeed
extensive. In the case of C. chinchilla, it was distributed
from southern Perú, Bolivia, to northern Argentina and
Chile (Grau 1986); however, it has not been recorded
in these countries in the last 50 years and should be
determinate as extinct (Valladares et al. 2014). The actual
identi ed colonies are smaller and restricted to highland of
Antofagasta and Atacama regions, Chile. In the case of C.
lanigera, it is an endemic species of Chile living in coastal
Atacama and Coquimbo regions (Grau 1986). However,
after their main extermination, the distribution was restricted
to Las Chinchillas National Reserve (Mohlis 1983), and a
little colony northern of Coquimbo region (Spotorno et al.
2004a); but recently it was determinate a new colony for
Atacama region. Both species has been reduced to more than
95% of their original distribution, and the actual colonies
haven´t been evaluated in fundamental biological variables
for their conservation.
In relation to their ecology, the colony of C. lanigera from
Atacama (Valladares et al. 2014) was found in the Priority
Conservation Site “Desierto Florido” (Squeo et al. 2008),
where the effects of ENSO are very strong, with a signi cant
increase in rainfall and consequent increase vegetation,
generating strong population uctuations (Gutiérrez et al.
2008). Given that both chinchillas have medium body sizes,
relatively long life cycles, and long gestation periods among
the rodent species of the region (Meserve et al. 1995), it
is most probable that all colonies of chinchillids respond
to such environmental uctuations in a delayed multiyear
form, but we don´t have enough scienti c information about
their actual abundance and temporal uctuations.
About the number of species to be recognized, in this
moment we accept two species of chinchillids, C. chinchilla
and C. lanigera, but the new colonies should be analyzed
with modern techniques as molecular markers, particularly
the new colonies that represent extremes of distribution, for
example the most southern colonies of C. chinchilla and the
northern of C. lanigera, both from Atacama region, which
corresponds to the oldest geographic range of sympatry.
On the other hand, it is still pending identi cation of wild
colonies of Chinchilla in bordering countries, particularly in
Bolivia where in the past were described as different species
from those recognized here.
We accept the existence of syntype specimens in museums
from Europe, particularly the specimen reviewed by Bennett
(code GMCM 54a1) because it represents a syntype of the
Genus and lanigera species.
Colonies near to mining exploitation areas is a threat never
discussed in the bibliography before. It has a great importance
on the conservation topics because mining is associated
to toxicity for heavy metals and very large territorial
interventions. It will be important to develop a conservation
plan for these species in the north of Chile, with goals and
objectives clearly de ned, seeking funds for scienti c
research on diverse topics such as distribution, abundance,
ecology, reproduction, behavior, and genetic diversity. We
consider that under this background, effectively both C.
lanigera and C. chinchilla are in critical condition.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We thanks to Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero (SAG) for
permission to capture wild specimens (Resolution 306/2013
and 1061/2014), especially to José Andaur and Patricia Cáceres
for permission to analyze wild chinchilla specimens and for
information on locality of capture. To Claudia Fernandez-
Alarcón, Patricio Vélez and Paul Ramsay for their help in
the revision of the manuscript. To Diego Oliveras for send
me important information of C. chinchilla from Argentina.
To Chris Smeenk from Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity
Naturalis, Nederlands Centrum voor Biodiversiteit Naturalis,
Holland; Nora Lange from Collection Manager of the
Department of Mammals, Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz
Institut for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity at the
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, and Olga Beatriz
Vaccaro from Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales
“Bernardino Rivadavia”, Argentina, for send us important
CONAF (1988) ICP*** IUCN (2010) SAG (2012) CITES EDGE
C. chinchilla Endangered Endangered Critically Endangered Endangered Appendix I** Critically Endangered
C. lanigera Endangered* Critical Critically Endangered Endangered Appendix I** Critically Endangered
* Extinct in Antofagasta and Atacama regions,
Chile
** Lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants
*** Cofre and Marquet (1999)
Table 2. Conservation status of both C. lanigera and C. chinchilla species by national and international institutions.
Tabla 2. Estado de conservation de ambas especies, C. lanigera y C. chinchilla tanto por instituciones nacionales como internacionales.
Gayana 78(2), 2014
142
materials for taxonomy analysis. To University of Tarapacá
for Project UTA Mayor de Investigación Cientí ca y
Tecnológica 4713-13 and 4711-14 and Fondo de Protección
Ambiental (FPA 4-G-042-2013).
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... Smeenk, in litt.). Both specimens were collected or obtained by D'Orbigny and Prévost and described as a new species by Waterhouse Bennett (1829) is deposited in the collection of the Department of Zoology (Mammal section) of the Natural History Museum of London (code GMCM 54a1- Valladares et al. 2014b). ...
... In Argentina, C. chinchilla is listed as "Critically Endangered" by Diaz and Ojeda (2000), Chébez and Oliveras (2008), and Ojeda (2012). Interestingly, no wild specimen has been recently collected in these regions, and C. chinchilla is currently classified as "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered," but not "Extinct" by Perú and Argentina (Valladares et al. 2014b). ...
... Such highly fragmented and small mammalian populations generally have low genetic diversity and a high level of inbreeding, associated with reductions in fitness, further increasing the risk of extinction (Keller and Waller 2002). Currently, the principal threat to the wild C. chinchilla is the relationship between its populations and exploitation and mining prospecting (Valladares et al. 2014b). ...
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... In Argentina, C. chinchilla is listed as "Critically Endangered" by Diaz and Ojeda (2000), Chébez and Oliveras (2008), and Ojeda (2012). Interestingly, no wild specimen has been recently collected in these regions, and C. chinchilla is currently classified as "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered," but not "Extinct" by Perú and Argentina (Valladares et al. 2014b). ...
... Such highly fragmented and small mammalian populations generally have low genetic diversity and a high level of inbreeding, associated with reductions in fitness, further increasing the risk of extinction (Keller and Waller 2002). Currently, the principal threat to the wild C. chinchilla is the relationship between its populations and exploitation and mining prospecting (Valladares et al. 2014b). ...
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... Specifically, the genera Chinchilla and Lagidim are restricted to Altiplano and Puna environments (Valladares et al., 2014;Ojeda et al., 2015aOjeda et al., ,b, 2016. The main threats for Chinchilla populations are mining exploitation and commercial hunting for the fur trade (Valladares et al., 2014). ...
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Is present an annotated list of the terrestrial mammals species from the Atacama region, Chile. I analyse the distribution and conservation status based on field data, taxonomic collections, scientific, and technical reports from public institutions of Atacama. We have confirmed the presence of 24 species of terrestrial mammals, of which the most representative order is Rodentia, with 12 species (50%), followed by Carnívora with 5 species (20,8%), Chiroptera with 3 (12,5%), Artiodactyla with 2 (8,35%), and Didelphimorphia with 2 (8,35%). However, there are 15 other species mentioned in Atacama but which there are not scientific evidence. The conservation status is not coincident among different methods and it does not necessarily reflect the local situation. To each species assigned to the Atacama region further information is required about local abundance, distribution, presence in the protected areas, ecoregional landscape, climatic and geomorphological characteristics, and vegetation formations. Areas with the highest species richness are the provinces of Huasco and Copiapó, in the transverse valleys and coastline. However, we recognize the lack of scientific exploration in much of the region, particularly the highlands of the Province of Chañaral, where other species could be found.
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Studies of published records and of about 36,900 specimens of native mammals from Bolivia reveal that at least 327 species occur there. Probably more than 20 other species, either new to science or new to Bolivia, remain to be discovered. In addition to these species names, some 44 additional subspecies names are used. Most of the subspecies names reflect taxonomic history more than detailed knowledge of geographic variation. In this report, the taxonomic status of each taxon within Bolivia is noted. Scientific names that have been used for Bolivian specimens are given for each species and subspecies, and all known publications that have specifically referred to Bolivian specimens are cited, along with a few other works selected for special reasons. Specimens are listed, and localities are mapped, including the prediction of the probable distribution of each species within Bolivia. Illustrated keys are based primarily on external, cranial, and dental characters and include 10 domestic and introduced species in addition to native species. The number of species present in most local areas ranges from about 50 to 180. Analysis indicates four major faunal areas: lowland tropics, lowland temperate zone (including the chacoan area), forested yungas, and highlands (altiplano). The highland and lowland faunas are almost mutually exclusive; the break between temperate and tropical is indistinct.