Nasua nasua (Linnaeus)

VOSS, ROBERT S., LUNDE, DARRIN P. & SIMMONS, NANCY B., 2001, The Mammals Of Paracou, French Guiana: A Neotropical Lowland Rainforest Fauna Part 2. Nonvolant Species, Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 2001 (263), pp. 1-236 : 70-71

publication ID 10.1206/0003-0090(2001)263<0003:TMOPFG>2.0.CO;2

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Nasua nasua (Linnaeus)


Nasua nasua (Linnaeus)

VOUCHER MATERIAL: AMNH 267605 ; MNHN 1995.959 . Total = 2 specimens .

IDENTIFICATION: Our two vouchers, both juveniles, conform closely in pelage characters with the description of Surinamese specimens identified by Husson (1978) as Nasua nasua vittata Tschudi (1845) , the type locality of which is in Guyana. Unfortunately, the appropriate trinomial designation for coatis from the Guiana subregion of Amazonia, if indeed a subspecific classification is necessary, remains to be convincingly determined.

Tate (1939) identified the lowland coatis of the Guiana subregion as Nasua phaeocephala J. A. Allen (1904) —apparently overlooking the availability of Tschudi’s older name—and proposed a new name, dichromatica, for the montane population on Auyantepui in Venezuela. Subsequently, Cabrera (1958) referred all named forms of South American coatis to N. nasua , of which 11 subspecies were recognized as valid; in his classification, phaeocephala and dichromatica were both treated as subjective synonyms of N. n. vittata . According to Hershkovitz (1959), however, the oldest valid name for a Guianan coati is Viverra quasje Gmelin (1788) , a name said to be based primarily on a Surinamese specimen described and illustrated by Seba (1734). Although Seba’s specimen (BMNH, the presumptive type of quasje , was reported to be extant by Thomas (1892), we have found no evidence that it has been examined by any subsequent author.

Decker’s (1991) revision of Nasua did not explicitly recognize any valid subspecies of N. nasua , but Gompper and Decker (1998) listed ten, including N. n. vittata (with phaeocephala and dichromatica as synonyms). Confusingly, Gompper and Decker listed quasje as a synonym of N. n. nasua , thus implying that two valid taxa of coatis occur in the Guianas. Without having undertaken a specimen­based revision of coati taxonomy, we are unable to evaluate the possible significance of any geographic variation in Nasua nasua that might occur in the Guiana subregion of Amazonia. However, it is clear from the literature reviewed above that if the French Guianan and Surinamese populations

TABLE 15 Measurements (mm) and Weights (kg) of Adult Potos flavus from Paracoua

(as represented by our vouchers and Husson’s material) are distinct from the nominate form, the correct name for them may be quasje Gmelin , not vittata Tschudi. Clearly , resolving the application of Gmelin’s name and reexamining Seba’s original specimen should be a priority in any future revisionary study.

FIELD OBSERVATIONS: Coatis are uncommon at Paracou. P. Petronelli (personal commun., 1993) told us that he had seen coatis only twice in ten years, once in an experimental plot of disturbed forest (a group of two animals), and the second time in primary forest near a stream (a group of seven or eight); both sightings were in daytime. We encountered coatis only three times in the course of our inventory fieldwork. (1) On 15 August 1993, R. W. Kays sighted a group estimated to consist of about 20 individuals in a large tree at night; the tree was in welldrained primary forest, and the animals (including our two vouchers) were perching among the branches, about 20 m above the ground. (2) L. H. Emmons sighted a group of unknown size in swampy primary forest at 09:25 hours on 13 October 1994. (3) A. L. Peffley encountered a solitary individual of unknown sex in swampy primary forest at 09:00 hours on 18 October 1994.