Equus asinus - Linnaeus, 1758
Ass
Other English Common Names: Feral Ass, donkey
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Equus asinus Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 180690)
French Common Names: âne commun
Spanish Common Names: Burro, Asno
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105962
Element Code: AMATA01020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Other Mammals
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Perissodactyla Equidae Equus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Equus asinus
Taxonomic Comments: See Grubb (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) for a discussion of nomenclature (e.g., E. asinus versus E. africanus).

The scientific name change of Equus africanus from Equus asinus was adopted in March 2003 by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. Based on the same opinion, the use of the E. africanus was also adopted by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals in 2008. CITES originally followed Wilson and Reeder (2005), however, because of the wild and domestic taxonomy issue previously raised by the Commission and the problems it created for enforcement officials, the Parties agreed to deviate from Wilson and Reeder by adopting the name E. africanus for the wild form of the African wild ass (listed in CITES Appendix I) and retaining the name E. asinus for the domesticated form, which is not listed under CITES. USFWS also has decided to follow this taxonomy and assign endangered status to E. africanus wherever found, and not the common domesticated or feral burro and donkey (E. asinus).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNA
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Sep2003
Global Status Last Changed: 04Sep2003
Rounded Global Status: GNA - Not Applicable
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (29Nov2011)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Arizona (SNA), Hawaii (SNA), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Native to northeastern Africa. Domesticated worldwide. Introduced and feral in the western U.S.: mainly Arizona, California, and Nevada (Slade and Godfrey 1982). Also feral on island of Hawaii (Tomich 1986) (since mid-1950s), on St. John (Virgin Islands) (Turner 1984), and elsewhere in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Population Size Comments: Several thousand in California, Arizona, and Nevada; not more than a few hundred elsewhere (Slade and Godfrey 1982).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Native to northeastern Africa. Domesticated worldwide. Introduced and feral in the western U.S.: mainly Arizona, California, and Nevada (Slade and Godfrey 1982). Also feral on island of Hawaii (Tomich 1986) (since mid-1950s), on St. John (Virgin Islands) (Turner 1984), and elsewhere in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AZexotic, HIexotic, NMexotic, NNexotic, NVexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005

Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: In southern California, about 2/3 of reproductive age (1.5+ years) females, 1/4 of yearling females, and 60% of lactating females were pregnant.
Ecology Comments: Males may maintain small territory during breeding season. Older males tend to be solitary when not with estrous females. Females usually alone with foal or with other females and foals. Home range over 1-2 years: 4-97 sq km.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Survives in harsh environments (e.g., Death Valley). On St. John, Virgin Islands: dry cactus/woodland, beaches, grassy flats (Turner 1984). In Arizona, remained close to permanent water in warmer months (Seegmiller and Ohmart 1981).
Adult Food Habits: Herbivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: In western Arizona, annual diet was 22% grasses and sedges, 33% forbs, and 40% browse (Seegmiller and Ohmart 1981); overlapped broadly with bighorn sheep in species eaten; generally selected green and growing vegetation.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Under Wild Horse and Burro Act, can be adopted for use in riding or as pet; Act generally prohibits commercial exploitation. Some regard it a pest, citing fouling of water, competition with domestic stock, or displacement of native ungulates.
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: High capacity for population increase; management must be an on-going consideration (Perryman and Muchlinski 1987, but see Jenkins 1989). Study in western Arizona concluded that bighorn sheep population may be limited through resource competition with burro; advocated removal of burros from areas where they are sympatric with bighorn (Seegmiller and Ohmart 1981).

Regulated by Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Most lands with are burros managed by BLM (see Boyles 1986).

Woodward and Sponenberg (1992) recommended that some desert populations be preserved as free-roaming herds for the purpose of maintaining an important store of genetic variation; an area near Marietta, Nevada, is being managed specifically for burros.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 08Dec1993
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Boyles, J. S. 1986. Managing America's wild horses and burros. J. Equine Vet. Sci. 6:261-265.

  • Bradley, R.D., L.K. Ammerman, R.J. Baker, L.C. Bradley, J.A. Cook. R.C. Dowler, C. Jones, D.J. Schmidly, F.B. Stangl Jr., R.A. Van den Bussche and B. Würsig. 2014. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2014. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 327:1-28. Available at: <http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/publications/opapers/ops/OP327.pdf> (Accessed April 1, 2015)

  • Ingles, L. G. 1965. Mammals of the Pacific States. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.

  • Jenkins, S. H. 1989. Comments on an inappropriate population model for feral burros. J. Mamm. 70:667-670.

  • Johnson, R. A., S. W. Carothers, and T. J. McGill. 1987. Demography of feral burros in the Mohave Desert. J. Wildl. Manage. 51:916-920.

  • Jones, J. K., Jr., R. S. Hoffman, D. W. Rice, C. Jones, R. J. Baker, and M. D. Engstrom. 1992a. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, The Museum, Texas Tech University, 146:1-23.

  • Kramer, R. J. 1971. Hawaiian land mammals. Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo, Japan. 347 pp.

  • Lever, C. 1985. Naturalized mammals of the world. Longman Group Limited, England.

  • McCort, W. D. 1980. The behavior and social organization of feral asses (EQUUS ASINUS) on Ossabaw Island, Georgia. Diss. Abstr. Int., B Sci. Eng. 41(1):56-B.

  • McKnight, T. L. 1958. The feral burro in the United States: distribution and problems. J. Wildl. Manage. 22: 163-179.

  • Moehlman, P. D. 1972. Getting to know the wild burrows of Death Valley. National Geographic 141(5):502-517.

  • Perryman, P., and A. Muchlinski. 1987. Population dynamicsof feral burros at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, California. J. Mamm. 68:435-438.

  • Seegmiller, R. F., and R. D. Ohmart. 1981. Ecological relationships of feral burros and desert bighorn sheep. Wildlife Monographs No. 78:1-58.

  • Slade, L. M., and E. B. Godfrey. 1982. Wild horses. Pages 1089-1098 in Chapman, J. A., and G. A. Feldhamer, eds. Wild mammals of North America. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore.

  • Tirira, D. 1999. Mamíferos del Ecuador. Museo de Zoología, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito.

  • Tomich, P. Q. 1986. Mammals in Hawai'i. A synopsis and notational bibliography. Second edition. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 375 pp.

  • Turner, M. G. 1984. Habitat utilization by burros in Virgin Islands National Park. J. Wildl. Manage. 48:1461- 1464.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. Available online at: http://vertebrates.si.edu/msw/mswcfapp/msw/index.cfm

  • Woodward, S. L. 1979. The social system of feral asses (EQUUS ASINUS). Z. Tierpsychol. 49:304-316.

  • Woodward, S. L., and D. P. Sponenberg. 1992. Feral livestock in America: identification of populations important for the conservation of genetic diversity. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, p. 148.

  • Zeiner, D. C., W. F. Laudenslayer, Jr., K. E. Mayer, and M. White, editors. 1990b. California's wildlife. Volume III. Mammals. State of California, The Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA. 407 pp.

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