The family Eupleridae, the Malagasy carnivores, consists of eight species and seven genera in two subfamilies. The diversity of form and function in this family is such that some have suggested it be split into several families.
- Gaubert, P., W. Wozencraft, P. Cordeiro-Estrela, G. Veron. 2005. Mosaics of convergences and noise in morphological phylogenies: What's in a viverrid-like carnivoran?. Systematic Biology, 54(6): 865-894.
- Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2005. Mammal Species of the World. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Species in the family Eupleridae are restricted to the island of Madagascar.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
- Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Aside from molecular synapomorphies, euplerids have few traits in common. They tend to have slender bodies with relatively small heads and pointed rostra, although fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) are more cat-like in appearance, with blunt snouts. Head and body length ranges from 250 mm in Mungotictis and Salanoia to 800 mm in adult male Cryptoprocta. The thick, soft pelage is gray or brown, and spotted or striped in all but Eupleres and Cryptoprocta. The foot posture is plantigrade or digitigrade.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Euplerids live in a variety of habitats, from humid forests, marshes, bogs, and swamps, to deserts and savannahs.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog
- Schreiber, A., R. Wirth, M. Riffel, H. Van Rompaey. 1989. Weasels, Civets, Mongooses, and their Relatives. An Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
Euplerids are primarily carnivorous, consuming small mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, insects, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Eupleres goudotii is specialized for eating intertebrates such as earthworms. Fossa fossana and Galidia elegans may include some fruit in their diets in addition to animal matter.
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Eats eggs, Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods); herbivore (Frugivore ); omnivore
Euplerids that eat fruit are primary consumers, and all euplerids are secondary and higher-level consumers, because they eat a variety of animal matter. They, in turn, are eaten by humans and domestic dogs, and possibly other predators as well. Cryptoprocta ferox is the largest native predator on Madagascar and, except for humans, is at the top of the food chain.
No information is available on the specific predators of euplerids, besides humans and domestic dogs, both of which are not native to Madagascar. Cryptic coloration in the form of spots and stripes on neutral backgrounds probably conceals most species well. Eupleres goudotii is known to either run or freeze when disturbed, and Cryptoprocta ferox releases a foul-smelling substance from its anal glands when it is alarmed. Large birds of prey or large snakes are potential predators.
- humans (Homo sapiens)
- domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
Like other carnivores, euplerids can perceive visual, acoustic, chemical, and tactile signals. Communication is through scent in the form of glandular secretions and through a variety of cries, groans, and other vocalizations.
Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Euplerid lifespans in the wild are unknown. Cryptoprocta holds the longevity record in captivity, at 20 years.
Mating systems in Eupleridae vary, as social structure varies from species to species. Fossas form monogamous pairs, while species in the genera Galidia, Mungotictis, and Salanoia are either found alone or in pairs, suggesting that they are monogamous within, but not across, breeding seasons. Species in the genera Eupleres and Galidictis live alone, in pairs, or in small family groups, which also might indicate monogamy. Mungotictis individuals live in small groups with several adults of each sex, but it is not known whether all of the adults within a group breed. Cryptoprocta individuals are strictly solitary, suggesting a polygynous or polygynandrous mating system.
Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Euplerids have definite breeding seasons, which vary by species and last anywhere from two to eight months. Gestation lasts around three months. Usually there are just one or two young per litter, though Cryptoprocta can have up to four. Weaning takes place between two and four and a half months.
Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Like all eutherian mammals, euplerid females nuture their young through a placenta until the young are born. They then provide their offspring with milk for two to four and a half months. Females of some genera, such as Cryptoprocta, select dens in which to bear and nurse their young. Mungotictis individuals live in family groups of several adults, juveniles, and young; thus, offspring have an association with their parents beyond weaning.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents
- Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:5
Specimens with Barcodes:0
Species With Barcodes:3
All species in this family are threatened. Fossa fossana, Galidia elegans, Galidictis fasciata, and Salanoia concolor are considered vulnerable by the IUCN, and Cryptoprocta ferox, Eupleres goudotii, Galidictis grandidieri, and Mungotictis decemlineata are considered endangered. Cryptoprocta ferox, Eupleres goudotii, and Fossa fossana are on Appendix II of CITES. Habitat destruction in the form of deforestation is the main cause of their decline, though hunting by humans and predation by dogs also impact populations.
- IUCN, 2006. "2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed September 19, 2006 at www.redlist.org.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Cryptoprocta ferox individuals sometimes attack poultry. There are no reports of other euplerids negatively affecting humans.
Euplerids are commonly hunted for their meat.
Positive Impacts: food
Eupleridae is a family of carnivorans endemic to Madagascar and comprising 10 known living species in seven genera. The best known species is the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), in the subfamily Euplerinae. All species of Euplerinae were formerly classified as viverrids, while all species in the subfamily Galidiinae were classified as herpestids.
Recent molecular studies indicate the 10 living species of Madagascar carnivorans evolved from one ancestor that is thought to have rafted over from mainland Africa 18-24 million years ago. This makes Malagasy carnivorans a clade. They are closely allied with the true herpestid mongooses, their closest living relatives. The fossa and the Malagasy civet (Fossa fossana) are believed to be the most ancient surviving species within this group.
Taxonomy and phylogeny
Historically, the relationships of the Madagascar carnivorans have been contentious, but molecular evidence suggests they form a single clade, now recognized as the family Eupleridae. The hyena family Hyaenidae is a sister taxon of the euplerid and herpestid clade, and when grouped together with the viverrids and felids, as well as some smaller groups, forms the feliform (cat-like carnivores) clade.
The evolutionary divergence between the herpestids and the euplerids dates back to the Oligocene;. At that time, feliforms shared many similarities, particularly between the cats and the viverrids. Palaeoprionodon (within superfamily Aeluroidea), found in Europe and Asia from the late Eocene or early Oligocene, looked similar to the modern fossa, while Proailurus, an extinct form of cat, exhibited many viverrid-like characteristics. Despite these similarities in the fossil record, the modern Malagasy carnivores are distinctly different, with the Euplerinae and Galidiinae subfamilies bearing similarities with civets and mongooses, respectively. Species in Euplerinae (including the fossa, falanouc, and Malagasy civet) have auditory regions similar to those of viverrids, while those in Galidiinae have auditory regions similar to those of herpestids. Based on this trait, Robert M. Hunt Jr. proposed in 1996 that Madagascar was colonized twice, once by viverrids and once by herpestids. However, the genetic studies by Yoder and colleagues in 2003 suggested a single colonization event occurred by a primitive herpestid ancestor, which was quickly followed by adaptive radiation. The common ancestor arrived from Africa, probably by rafting, during the late Oligocene or early Miocene (24–18 Mya), though Philippe Gaubert and Veron estimated a divergence date of 19.4 Mya (16.5–22.7 Mya).
- Family Eupleridae
- Subfamily Euplerinae
- Subfamily Galidiinae
|Phylogeny of Malagasy carnivorans (Eupleridae)|
|Phylogeny of Eupleridae within Feliformia|
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Flynn, J; Finarelli, J. A.; Zehr, S; Hsu, J; Nedbal, M. A. (April 2005). "Molecular phylogeny of the carnivora (mammalia): assessing the impact of increased sampling on resolving enigmatic relationships". Syst. Biol. 54 (2): 317–37. doi:10.1080/10635150590923326. PMID 16012099.
- Yoder, AD; Burns, A.D.; Zehr, M.M.; Delefosse, S.; Veron, T.; Goodman, G.; Flynn, S.M. (2003). "Single origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African ancestor" (PDF). Nature 421 (6924): 734–737. doi:10.1038/nature01303. PMID 12610623. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
|last8=in Authors list (help)
- Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 559–561. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0.
- Yoder, A.D.; Flynn, J.J. (2003). "Origin of Malagasy Carnivora". In Goodman, S.M.; Benstead, J.P. The Natural History of Madagascar. University of Chicago Press. pp. 1253–1256. ISBN 0-226-30306-3.
- Barycka, E. (2007). "Evolution and systematics of the feliform Carnivora". Mammalian Biology 72 (5): 257–282. doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2006.10.011.
- Köhncke, M.; Leonhardt, K. (1986). "Cryptoprocta ferox" (PDF). Mammalian Species (254): 1–5. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- Gaubert, P.; Veron, G. (2003). "Exhaustive sample set among Viverridae reveals the sister-group of felids: the linsangs as a case of extreme morphological convergence within Feliformia" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society B 270 (1532): 2523–2530. doi:10.1098/rspb.2003.2521. PMC 1691530. PMID 14667345.
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