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Carnivore diversity at a montane rainforest site in Ecuador's Gran Sumaco Biosphere Reserve

  • Anne-Marie C. Hodge (a1) and Brian S. Arbogast (a1)

Ecuador harbours a diverse assemblage of tropical mammals, yet the natural history and local-scale distributions of many species remain poorly understood. We conducted the first systematic camera-trap survey of terrestrial mammalian carnivores at Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary, a mid-elevation (1,250–1,450 m), montane rainforest site on the slopes of Sumaco Volcano, in the heart of the Tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot. We quantified trap success, latency to detection and temporal activity patterns for each species detected. We recorded nine carnivore species (four felids, two procyonids and three mustelids), including the first verified record of the jaguarundi Puma yagouaroundi in the region. These species comprise one-third of all terrestrial carnivore species known to occur in Ecuador and 82% of those thought to occur at mid-elevation. All except one of the carnivores we detected have reported elevational ranges ≤ 1,500 m; the one exception, the puma Puma concolor, occurs throughout mainland Ecuador at 0–4,500 m. No cloud forest or highland species (i.e. those with a reported lower elevational limit of ≥ 1,500 m) were detected. Trap success was highest, and latency to detection smallest, for the margay Leopardis wiedii, and temporal activity patterns for all species were consistent with those reported previously in the literature. Our results demonstrate that the mid-elevation montane rainforests of Sumaco Volcano support an exceptionally high diversity of co-existing mammalian carnivores, many of which appear to be near their upper elevational limits, and emphasize the conservation value of this area.

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