A Review of the Biology and Conservation of the Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi)

  • Fumio Yamada

The Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi, Stone 1900) is a monotpypic and unique ancestral rabbit found in the subtropical and tropical zone of southern Japan (Corbet 1983; Yamada and Cervantes 2005). The rabbit is endemic to Amami-Ohshima (712 km2) and Tokuno-Shima (248 km2) islands which originally lacked predatory mammals, in the Ryukyu Archipelago. Both islands are located in the subtropical zone (mean annual temperature of 21°C) with much rainfall (3,000 mm per year). P. furnessi is mainly found in mountainous habitats with a forest cover of 86% on Amami-Ohshima Island, and 44% on Tokuno-Shima Island. It occurs in coastal scarp rocks with cycads and mountain forest with oaks. It ranges from sea level to 694 m on Amami-Ohshima Island, and to 645 m on Tokuno-Shima Island, an altitudinal rage low in comparison with other rabbits found in the tropics. Some biological knowledge on the rabbit has been revealed gradually, however, population size of the rabbit has been decreased rapidly, because of human and invasive species impacts. I reviewed biology and conservation status of the rabbit by surveying recent research data in order to understand the rabbit.


Home Range Size Forest Product Research Institute Natural Monument Ryukyu Archipelago Shrub Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abe Y (1931) A synopsis of the leporine mammals of Japan. J Sci Hiroshima Univ 1:45–63.Google Scholar
  2. Abe H (1963) Two nests of Pentalagus furnessi (Stone). J Mammal Soc Jap 2:58–59.Google Scholar
  3. Bell DJ, Oliver WLR, Ghose RK (1990) The hispid hare. In: Chapman JA, Flux JEC (eds) Rabbits, hares, and pikas. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, pp 128–136.Google Scholar
  4. Chapman JA, Flux JEC, Smith AT, Bell DJ, Ceballos GG, Dixon KR, Dobler FC, Formozov NA, Ghose RK, Oliver WLR, Robinson TJ, Schneider E, Stuart SN, Sugimura K, Changlin Z (1990) Conservation action needed for rabbits, hares and pikas. In: Chapman JA, Flux JEC (eds) Rabbits, hares, and pikas. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, pp 154–167.Google Scholar
  5. Cervantes FA, Lorenzo C, Hoffmann RS (1990) Romerolagus diazi. Mammal Spec 360:1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Corbet GB (1983) A review of classification in the family Leporidae. Acta Zool Fenn 174:11–15.Google Scholar
  7. Dawson MR (1958) Later Tertiary Leporidae of North America. University of Kansas Paleontological Contributions, Vertebrata 6:1–75.Google Scholar
  8. Daxner G, Fejfar O (1967) Über die Gattungen Alilepus Dice, 1931 und Pliopentalagus Gureev, 1964 (Lagomorpha, Mammalia). Ann Nat Mus Wien 71:37–55.Google Scholar
  9. Duthie AG, Robinson TJ (1990) The African rabbits. In: Chapman JA, Flux JEC (eds) Rabbits, hares, and pikas. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, pp 127–127.Google Scholar
  10. Flux JEC, Angerman R (1990) The hares and jackrabbits. In: Chapman JA, Flux JEC (eds) Rabbits, hares, and pikas. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, pp 61–94.Google Scholar
  11. Green JS, Flinders JT (1980) Brachylagus idahoensis. Mammal Spec 125:1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gureev AA (1964) Fauna of the USSR, Mammals, Lagomorpha. Nauk, Moscow, USSR.Google Scholar
  13. Halanych KM, Robinson JT (1999) Multiple substitutions affect the phylogenetic utility of cytochrome b and 12S rRNA data: examining a rapid radiation in leporid (Lagomorpha) evolution. J Mol Evol 48:369–379.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hayashida S, Otsuka J, Nishinakagawa H (1967) Observations on bones of Pentalagus furnessi Stone. J Mammal Soc Jap 3:109–117.Google Scholar
  15. Hibbard CW (1963) The origin of the P3 pattern of Sylvilagus, Caprolagus, Oryctolagus and Lepus. J Mammal 44:1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. IUCN (2000) 2000 IUCN red list of threatened species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  17. Kirino M (1977) Amami rabbit Choubunsya. Tokyo, Japan.Google Scholar
  18. Lyon MW (1904) Classification of the hares and their allies. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 45:321–447.Google Scholar
  19. Matthee CA, van Vuuren BJ, Bell D, Robinson JT (2004) A molecular supermatrix of the rabbits and hares (Leporidae) allows for the identification of five intercontinental exchanges during the Miocene. Syst Biol 53:433–447.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ministry of the Environment (2002) Red list and red data book for mammals in Japan. Ministry of the Environment, Tokyo, Japan.Google Scholar
  21. Nowak RM (1999) Walker's mammals of the world, 6th edn. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.Google Scholar
  22. Smith AT (2008) Conservation of endangered lagomorphs. In: Alves PC, Ferrand N, Hackländer K (eds) Lagomorph Biology: Evolution, Ecology and Conservation. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 297–316.Google Scholar
  23. Stone W (1900) Descriptions of a new rabbit from the Liu kiu Islands and a new flying squirrel from Borneo. Proc Acad Nat Sci Phil 52:460–463.Google Scholar
  24. Sugimura K, Sato S, Yamada F, Abe S, Hirakawa H, Handa Y (2000) Distribution and abundance of the Amami rabbit Pentalagus furnessi in the Amami and Tokuno Islands, Japan. Oryx 34:198–206.Google Scholar
  25. Sugimura K, Yamada F (2004) Estimating population size of the Amami rabbit Pentalagus furnessi based on fecal pellet counts on Amami Island, Japan. Acta Zool Sinica 50:519–526.Google Scholar
  26. Tomida Y, Otsuka H (1993) First discovery of fossil Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi) from Tokunoshima, Southern Japan. Bull Nat Sci Mus, Tokyo, Ser C 19:73–79.Google Scholar
  27. Tomida Y (1997) Why has Amami rabbit been classified in the subfamily Palaeolaginae in Japan? Kaseki (Fossils) 63:20–28.Google Scholar
  28. Tomida Y, Jin C (2002) Morphological evolution of the genus Pliopentalagus based on the fossil material from Anhui Province China: a preliminary study. In: Kubodera T, Higuchi M, Miyawaki R (eds) Proceedings of the third and forth symposia on collection building and natural history studies in Asia and the Pacific Rim (National Sci Mus Monogr 22), pp 97–107.Google Scholar
  29. Uchida S (1920) Animals on Amami-Ohshima Island in Kagoshima. Department of the Interior, Investigation Report on the Historic Scenes, Scenic Beauties and Natural Monuments 23:41–65.Google Scholar
  30. Wildlife Conservation Group (1984) Research on Ryukyu rabbit Pentalagus furnessi in 1973: In: WWF Japan (ed) Conservation of the Nansei Shoto. Part I. World Wildlife Fund Japan, Tokyo, Japan, pp 248–274.Google Scholar
  31. Yamada F, Sugimura K, Abe S, Handa Y (2000) Present status and conservation of the endangered Amami rabbit Pentalagus furnessi. Tropics 10:87–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Yamada F, Takaki M, Suzuki H (2002) Molecular phylogeny of Japanese Leporidae, the Amami rabbit Pentalagus furnessi, the Japanese hare Lepus brachyurus, and the mountain hare Lepus timidus, inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Genes Gen Syst 77:107–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yamada F (2002) Impacts and control of introduced small Indian mongoose on Amami Island, Japan. In: Veitch CR, Clout MN (eds) Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, pp 389–392.Google Scholar
  34. Yamada F, Sugimura K (2004) Negative impact of an invasive small Indian mongoose Herpestes javanicus on native wildlife species and evaluation of a control project in Amami-Ohshima and Okinawa Islands, Japan. Glob Environ Res 8:117–124.Google Scholar
  35. Yamada F, Cervantes FA (2005) Pentalagus furnessi. Mammal Spec 782:1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fumio Yamada
    • 1
  1. 1.Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTsukuba-Norin, IbarakiJapan

Personalised recommendations