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Distribution and abundance of the Amami rabbit Pentalagus furnessi in the Amami and Tokuno Islands, Japan

  • Ken Sugimura, Shigeho Sato (a1), Fumio Yamada (a2), Shintaro Abe (a3), Hirofumi Hirakawa (a4) and Yukari Handa (a3)...

Abstract

The Amami rabbit Pentalagus furnessi is a rare forest-dwelling form endemic to the Amami and Tokuno Islands in Japan. In order to estimate the distribution and abundance of the Amami rabbit we counted their faecal pellets along forest roads and streams as well as within the forests on Amami and Tokuno Islands during January 1993–March 1995. The number of pellets/ km along a stream gave a practical index for measuring relative abundance. The rabbit was estimated to be distributed over about 370 sq km on Amami Island and 33 sq km on Tokuno Island. There was a large variance in faecal abundance among the survey routes. Some populations were completely isolated and thought to be very small. The size of a local population was positively correlated with those of neighbouring populations and the amount of mature forest relative to other serai stages. We compared the results of this survey with those of previous surveys to find that the total population of this species appears to be declining. Some conservation measures are proposed for forest habitat management, designed to avert the decline of the Amami rabbit and to ensure its preservation.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

(corresponding author)Forest Management Division, National Institute of Forest Science, PO Box 16, Tsukuba-Norin-Danchinai, Ibaraki Prefecture 305–8687, Japan. Tel.: +81 298 73 3211; fax: +81 298 3799; e-mail: kensugi@ffpri.affrc.go.jp

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