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South Andean Deer (Huemul) - Hippocamelus bisulcus
Scalesofanubis: Wrote:South Andean Deer (Huemul) - Hippocamelus bisulcus

[Image: prj-huemul-red.jpg]

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Suborder: Ruminantia
Family: Cervidae
Genus: Hippocamelus
Species: Hippocamelus bisulcus

[Image: andean_deer.jpg]

The South Andean Deer, Hippocamelus bisulcus, also known as the Chilean Guemal or Huemul (/ˈweɪmuːl/ WAY-mool), is an endangered species of deer native to the mountains of Argentina and Chile. One of two mid-sized deer of the Hippocamelus genus, the South Andean Deer ranges across the high mountainsides and cold valleys of the Andes. The distribution and habitat, behaviour, and diet of the deer have all been the subject of study. The viability of the small remaining population is an outstanding concern to researchers.  The Huemul is part of Chile's National Coat of Arms and it is since 2006 a National Natural Monument.

[Image: huemul-photo-credit-rod-chile1.jpg]

The South Andean Deer is well-adapted to broken, difficult terrain with a stocky build and short legs. A brown to greyish-brown coat tapers to white undersides and a white marked throat; the long, curled hairs of the coat provide protection against cold and moisture. Does are 70 to 80 kg. (154-176 lbs.) and stand 80 cm. (31 in.), while bucks are 90 kg (198 lbs.) and 90 cm (35 in). (Other weight suggestions are lower.) There is no sexual size difference amongst fawns, which are born unspotted.
 Sexual dimorphism is notable. Only the bucks have antlers, which are shed each year toward the end of winter. Males also have a distinctive black "face mask", which curves into an elongated heart-shape surrounding a forehead of the principal brown colour. Unusually for a dimorphic ungulate, research has shown South Andean Deer will congregate in mixed-sex groups, and the length of time spent inter-mixing increases with group size. The farther the animals are from rocky slopes the larger the size of observed groups, suggesting predation rates are lowest on slopes and greatest in open areas such as valley bottoms

Destribution and Habitat

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The animal ranges across a variety of often difficult habitat. Open periglacial scrubland, low bluffs and other rocky areas, and upland forests and forest-border are principal range types. One study of coastal fjord populations found males and juveniles preferred periglacial grassland; females were mainly found on bluffs, and fawns exclusively so. Gunnera plants were a principal dietary item.
 While previously found over much of southwestern South America, the current status of the South Andean Deer is critical. Numbers in Argentina were estimated at 350–600, in fragmented groups, as of 2005. Argentinian national authorities have been criticized for calling the species' situation satisfactory, where research shows declining numbers; further research on habitat viability and conservation centers have been urged.
 Pressures on Huemul populations include economic activities and invasive species. One study in Argentina's Nahuel Huapi National Park found thirty-two plant items in its diet. The most common of these, the Lenga Beech (Nothofagus pumilio), was also a primary food item of the Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), causing displacement to marginal areas and increased vulnerability for the smaller South Andean Deer. Both decreased reproduction rates and increased morbidity may be affecting the population in Argentina; predation by the Cougar, the South Andean Deer's only natural predator, remains a principal cause of mortality in Argentina.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
Life-threatening foot disease found in endangered huemul deer in Chile
Virus could pose conservation threat to huemul populations

Date:  April 17, 2019
Source:  University of California - Davis

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A huemul deer in Chilean Patagonia. Credit: Alejandro Vila/Wildlife Conservation Society

Scientists report the first cases of foot disease for endangered huemul deer in Chilean Patagonia in a study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of California, Davis' One Health Institute, with partnering institutions in Chile and the United States.
In the study, published April 17 in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found foot lesions in 24 huemul deer in Chile's Bernardo O'Higgins National Park between 2005 and 2010. The park remains one of the few strongholds for the species, which lives in the rugged mountainous terrain of southern Argentina and Chile.
The foot disease causes severe pain, swelling, partial or complete loss of the hoof and in many cases, death. Affected animals become unable to move and forage, leaving them susceptible to starvation and predation.
Researchers identified parapoxvirus as the likely cause of the disease. About 40 percent of the 24 affected deer died, suggesting the virus could pose a considerable conservation threat to the already vulnerable species.
"We knew that deer were getting sick and dying from this disease for many years, but we didn't know what was causing it," said corresponding author Marcela Uhart, a wildlife veterinarian with the UC Davis One Health Institute and director of the Latin America Program within UC Davis' Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center. "We're really excited that we found a potential cause for this disease. Now we need to learn from it so we can be better prepared to help this species."


Culturally iconic, the huemul deer appears alongside the condor on Chile's coat of arms and symbolizes biodiversity in the region.
While only about 2,500 remain in the wild today, huemul deer were once widespread in Patagonian forests. Then, in the 19th century, habitat loss, poaching and livestock disease began contributing to their decline. Today, the huemul deer is the most endangered deer in South America.
"Considering the critical situation of huemul deer, this finding is a significant first step toward identifying and implementing solutions," said lead author Alejandro Vila, the Scientific Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Chile. "We will continue to work closely with all relevant stakeholders for the recovery of this flagship species."


The lab analysis provided some indication that this disease may have originated with livestock, as well, but more research is needed to confirm. Parapoxvirus DNA present in the sample was highly associated with bovine viruses.
Three-quarters of the deer affected by the foot disease were found in the Huemules Valley, where cattle were introduced in 1991 before being removed in 2004. The remaining quarter of affected deer were found in the more isolated Bernardo and Katraska Valleys, which were always free of cattle and had no cases of the foot disease until six sick deer were found between 2008 and 2010.


The study said a better system for monitoring the population, collecting high-quality samples and ensuring their delivery for lab analysis could help researchers, land managers and wildlife veterinarians more quickly identify problems huemul deer face and find ways to help them.
"It's very rare to link an endangered species with the cause of a disease," Uhart said. "Disease is one reason this species is not doing well. A collaborative framework that involves the different stakeholders can help us put the right pieces in place to diagnose and help the species."
Such a framework requires collaboration among academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and government agencies, the authors emphasize.
"We are very pleased with the outcome of this collaborative investigation," said Alejandra Silva, Regional Director of the National Forestry Service (CONAF) for Magallanes and Antarctica. "Given how complex it is to work in remote and isolated locations and the costs involved in pursuing sophisticated diagnostics, we recognize the value of partnering with academia and the non-governmental sector to solve problems threatening our wild species."
Additional coauthors for the study include Cristóbal Briceño of University of Chile; Denise McAloose and Tracie Seimon from Wildlife Conservation Society in New York; Anibal Armién from University of Minnesota; Nicholas Be from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Elizabeth Mauldin and James Thissen from University of Pennsylvania; Manuel Quezada from University of Concepción in Chile; and Ana Hinojosa, José Paredes, Iván Avendaño, and Alejandra Silva from CONAF in Chile.
The study received financial support from CONAF, Michel Durand, Weeden Foundation, Agnes Gundt, Wuppertal Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Story Source: University of California - Davis. "Life-threatening foot disease found in endangered huemul deer in Chile: Virus could pose conservation threat to huemul populations." ScienceDaily. (accessed April 18, 2019).

Journal Reference:
  1. Alejandro R. Vila, Cristóbal Briceño, Denise McAloose, Tracie A. Seimon, Anibal G. Armién, Elizabeth A. Mauldin, Nicholas A. Be, James B. Thissen, Ana Hinojosa, Manuel Quezada, José Paredes, Iván Avendaño, Alejandra Silva, Marcela M. Uhart. Putative parapoxvirus-associated foot disease in the endangered huemul deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus) in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, Chile. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (4): e0213667 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213667
The huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) is an endangered cervid endemic to southern Argentina and Chile. Here we report foot lesions in 24 huemul from Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, Chile, between 2005 and 2010. Affected deer displayed variably severe clinical signs, including lameness and soft tissue swelling of the limbs proximal to the hoof or in the interdigital space, ulceration of the swollen tissues, and some developed severe proliferative tissue changes that caused various types of abnormal wear, entrapment, and/or displacement of the hooves and/or dewclaws. Animals showed signs of intense pain and reduced mobility followed by loss of body condition and recumbency, which often preceded death. The disease affected both genders and all age categories. Morbidity and mortality reached 80% and 40%, respectively. Diagnostics were restricted to a limited number of cases from which samples were available. Histology revealed severe papillomatous epidermal hyperplasia and superficial dermatitis. Electron microscopy identified viral particles consistent with viruses in the Chordopoxvirinae subfamily. The presence of parapoxvirus DNA was confirmed by a pan-poxvirus PCR assay, showing high identity (98%) with bovine papular stomatitis virus and pseudocowpoxvirus. This is the first report of foot disease in huemul deer in Chile, putatively attributed to poxvirus. Given the high morbidity and mortality observed, this virus might pose a considerable conservation threat to huemul deer in Chilean Patagonia. Moreover, this report highlights a need for improved monitoring of huemul populations and synergistic, rapid response efforts to adequately address disease events that threaten the species.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]

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