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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 8, 2015

Density and activity patterns of ocelot populations in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador

  • Julia Salvador EMAIL logo and Santiago Espinosa
From the journal Mammalia

Abstract

Ocelots were historically hunted for their skins but habitat loss is now their most serious threat, causing rapid declines in populations throughout their range. Ocelot abundance has been estimated for various locations across the Neotropics, but we still lack this information from some countries, including Ecuador. Knowing whether ocelot abundance is increasing or decreasing is important to assess the conservation status of this species and the conditions of its habitats in the Ecuadorian Amazon and in the region. To determine whether ocelot abundance and its behavior are affected by human-related activities, camera-trap surveys were carried out in two localities of Yasuní National Park (YNP), one that has experienced hunting, oil extraction, and roads (Maxus Road) and one that is largely unaffected by these activities (Lorocachi). During the survey, 35 and 36 individual ocelots were photographed in Maxus Road and Lorocachi, respectively. Population density estimates were similar for both localities, ranging from 0.31 (SE±6) to 0.85 (SE±17) ocelots/km2 in Maxus Road and 0.35 (SE±6) to 0.93 (SE±18) ocelots/km2 in Lorocachi, when using the MMDM and the ½ MMDM to estimate the effective trapping area, respectively. Ocelots were more active during the night than during the day in both study sites, probably reflecting the activity patterns of their prey. Ocelot densities obtained in YNP are among the highest reported within the Neotropics. Yasuní’s large tracts of suitable habitat can provide the resources necessary to support sufficiently large populations of ocelots and other species, and ensure their long-term survival.


Corresponding author: Julia Salvador, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, PO Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA; and Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador, e-mail:

Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was provided to SE by the University of Florida (Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Tropical Conservation and Development Program, Amazon Conservation Leadership Initiative), World Wildlife Fund (Russel E. Train Education for Nature Program), and WCS (Research Fellowship Program). We thank the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and Ecuador’s Army (Batallón BS 48 Sangay) for their logistical support. We are deeply grateful to M. Durango for his help in the field. We also thank J. Blake and G. Rivas whose suggestions helped to improve our original manuscript.

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Received: 2014-11-24
Accepted: 2015-6-24
Published Online: 2015-8-8
Published in Print: 2016-7-1

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