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The use of camera traps for estimating jaguar Panthera onca abundance and density using capture/recapture analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 May 2004

Scott C. Silver
Affiliation:
WCS-Queens Zoo, 53-51 111th St., Flushing, NY 11368, USA
Linde E. T. Ostro
Affiliation:
WCS-Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY 10460, USA
Laura K. Marsh
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Ecology Group (RRES-ECO), Mail Stop M887, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA
Leonardo Maffei
Affiliation:
WCS-Bolivia, Casilla 6272, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Andrew J. Noss
Affiliation:
WCS-Bolivia, Casilla 6272, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Marcella J. Kelly
Affiliation:
106 Cheatham Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0321, USA
Robert B. Wallace
Affiliation:
WCS-Bolivia, Casilla 3-35181, San Miguel, La Paz, Bolivia
Humberto Gómez
Affiliation:
WCS-Bolivia, Casilla 3-35181, San Miguel, La Paz, Bolivia
Guido Ayala
Affiliation:
WCS-Bolivia, Casilla 3-35181, San Miguel, La Paz, Bolivia
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Abstract

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Across their range jaguars Panthera onca are important conservation icons for several reasons: their important role in ecosystems as top carnivores, their cultural and economic value, and their potential conflicts with livestock. However, jaguars have historically been difficult to monitor. This paper outlines the first application of a systematic camera trapping methodology for abundance estimation of jaguars. The methodology was initially developed to estimate tiger abundance in India. We used a grid of camera traps deployed for 2 months, identified individual animals from their pelage patterns, and estimated population abundance using capture-recapture statistical models. We applied this methodology in a total of five study sites in the Mayan rainforest of Belize, the Chaco dry forest of Bolivia, and the Amazonian rainforest of Bolivia. Densities were 2.4–8.8 adult individuals per 100 km2, based on 7–11 observed animals, 16–37 combined ‘captures’ and ‘recaptures’, 486–2,280 trap nights, and sample areas of 107–458 km2. The sampling technique will be used to continue long-term monitoring of jaguar populations at the same sites, to compare with further sites, and to develop population models. This method is currently the only systematic population survey technique for jaguars, and has the potential to be applied to other species with individually recognizable markings.

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Copyright
© 2004 Fauna & Flora International
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