Improving density estimates for elusive carnivores: Accounting for sex-specific detection and movements using spatial capture-recapture models for jaguars in central Brazil

  • Sollmann R
  • Furtado M
  • Gardner B
 et al. 
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Owing to habitat conversion and conflict with humans, many carnivores are of conservation concern. Because of their elusive nature, camera trapping is a standard tool for studying carnivores. In many vertebrates, sex-specific differences in movements - and therefore detection by cameras - are likely. We used camera trapping data and spatially explicit sex-specific capture-recapture models to estimate jaguar density in Emas National Park in the central Brazilian Cerrado grassland, an ecological hotspot of international importance. Our spatially explicit model considered differences in movements and trap encounter rate between genders and the location of camera traps (on/off road). We compared results with estimates from a sex-specific non-spatial capture-recapture model. The spatial model estimated a density of 0.29 jaguars 100km-2and showed that males moved larger distances and had higher trap encounter rates than females. Encounter rates with off-road traps were one tenth of those for on-road traps. In the non-spatial model, males had a higher capture probability than females; density was estimated at 0.62 individuals 100km-2. The non-spatial model likely overestimated density because it did not adequately account for animal movements. The spatial model probably underestimated density because it assumed a uniform distribution of jaguars within and outside the reserve. Overall, the spatial model is preferable because it explicitly considers animal movements and allows incorporating site-specific and individual covariates. With both methods, jaguar density was lower than reported from most other study sites. For rare species such as grassland jaguars, spatially explicit capture-recapture models present an important advance for informed conservation planning. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bayesian analysis
  • Camera trapping
  • Cerrado
  • Panthera onca
  • Sex-specific movements

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  • Rahel Sollmann

  • Mariana Malzoni Furtado

  • Beth Gardner

  • Anah T.A. Jácomo

  • Natália Mundim Tôrres

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