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Density of threatened ocelot Leopardus pardalis in the Sierra Abra-Tanchipa Biosphere Reserve, San Luis Potosí, Mexico


There is little information on the population status of the ocelot Leopardus pardalis in Mexico. In the Sierra Abra-Tanchipa Biosphere Reserve, in San Luis Potosí, ocelots are affected by habitat loss and fragmentation as a result of increased agricultural development. We used photographic identification in camera-trapping capture–recapture surveys to determine population abundance and density during the dry season and subsequent early and late humid seasons during April 2011–March 2012. We recorded 80 photographs of 15 individuals (10 males, one female, and four of undetermined sex) in 7,786 camera-days. Abundance was estimated using a closed capture heterogeneity model, yielding an estimated population of 9 ± SE 3 in the dry season and 21 ± SE 8 and 15 ± SE 5 during the subsequent early and late humid seasons, respectively. Spatially explicit density estimates were 0.04 and 0.03–0.18 individuals per km2 for the dry and humid seasons, respectively, and were similar (P > 0.612) among seasons. Peaks in ocelot activity occurred during 20.00–04.00. We conclude that the ocelots of the Sierra Abra-Tanchipa Reserve have a low population density and may face geographical and biological isolation as a result of habitat conversion. Continued monitoring and improved understanding of the movements and habitat preferences of ocelots are necessary to ensure their continued persistence, and connectivity between this population and others in north-east Mexico.

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