Spatial Ecology of a Large and Endangered Tropical Mammal: The White-Lipped Peccary in Darién, Panama
Large mammals are negatively affected by habitat loss, fragmentation, and hunting. Thus, many of them are nowadays in urgent need of conservation actions to decrease their risk of extinction. Examining space use of large mammals by integrating empirical data and modeling is a primary prerequisite both for basic ecological understanding and for effective conservation planning. In this study, we investigated the basic spatial ecology of the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), a keystone ungulate species in the Neotropics. Specifically, we examined the home range and habitat use of the species in the Darién, Panama, which constitutes one of the last remaining strongholds for the species in Mesoamerica. In May and July 2016, we fitted GPS collars on two white-lipped peccaries from different herds and monitored them during 15 months and 1 month. The two herds used an area covered by mature forest and did not venture into disturbed areas during the time we monitored them. Both herds displayed home ranging behavior, and their estimated home range sizes were 58 km2 and 25 km2. The herd that was followed during 15 months showed little difference between seasonal home ranges, suggesting that the forest of Darién provided enough resources throughout the year for the herd to remain in the same area. Based on this study and other research in Panama, we consider that the white-lipped peccary population in Darién is healthy contrasting with many other sites in the country. Management actions need to address both the hunting pressure and the protection of large continuous tracts of undisturbed forests to guarantee the persistence of the species in Panama.
KeywordsTayassu pecari Autocorrelated kernel density estimation White-lipped peccary Darien National Park
We thank the Secretaria Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación de Panamá (SENACYT proyecto FID 14-145), the Rufford Foundation, IDEA WILD, GEMAS/Fondo Darién, Fundación Natura, D. Anderson from Cat Haven, N. Correa from Asociación Panamericana para la Conservación, A. Perez from Green Rainforest, and R. Morales for funding, equipment, and logistics, especially A. Lu and L. Hernandez. We are extremely grateful to our guides from Pijibasal A. Chami, T. Contreras, U. Contreras, M. Manyoma, and C. Contreras; our wildlife veterinarian L. Pretelt, as well as A. Artavia and E. Sanchez for assistance during the captures. Thanks to the Ministry of Environment of Panama and C. Sanchez, director of the Darién NP, for permits; the game wardens at Rancho Frio, N. Correa, Y. Yanguez, and people of Pijibasal for housing and welcoming us. R. Kays and J. Signer provided valuable advice about the analysis. NM received a scholarship from the Consejo Nacional para la Ciencia y Tecnología de México (scholar # 576309). Data were uploaded on Movebank (www.movebank.org).
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