Vulnerable island carnivores: the endangered endemic dwarf procyonids from Cozumel Island
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Insular carnivores represent some of the most critically threatened species, but also the least known. To evaluate the conservation status of these species, thorough abundance estimates are urgently required. To better understand the population biology and conservation status of the endemic and threatened pygmy raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus) and dwarf coati (Nasua nelsoni) on Cozumel Island, Mexico, we worked island-wide to identify the presence of these species, and for the pygmy raccoon we studied several populations in depth during 2001–2003. On Cozumel, trapping was conducted for >6,600 trap nights in 19 locations of varying habitat types. A total of 96 pygmy raccoons (47 males and 49 females) and a single adult, male dwarf coati (N. nelsoni) were captured. Estimated total annual pygmy raccoon population size ± SE was 80 ± 26.1, resulting in an average density of 22 ± 5.1 raccoons/km2 for the three small sites where the animals persist. Based in part on the findings of this study that indicate these species have a restricted range and small population numbers, the IUCN recently changed the listing of the pygmy raccoon to Critically Endangered from Endangered. In contrast, the status of the dwarf coati (Endangered) has not been changed, although the taxon is in eminent danger of extinction and in need of immediate conservation action.