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Ocelot den­sity in Brazil­ian Ama­zon may be lower than expected

pub­lished 20 May 2016 | mod­i­fied 20 May 2016

OcelotThe pop­u­la­tion den­sity of ocelots in the Brazil­ian Ama­zon may be sta­ble but lower than expected, accord­ing to a study pub­lished May 18, 2016 in the open-​access jour­nal PLOS ONE by Daniel Gomes da Rocha from the Uni­ver­sity of Oxford, UK, and colleagues.

Ama­zo­nia is con­sid­ered a major strong­hold for the ocelot (Leop­ar­dus pardalis), with rel­a­tively high expected den­sity for the species. It was severely hunted dur­ing the 1960s and ‘70s due to inter­na­tional fur trade demands and, while it is now clas­si­fied as Least Con­cern on the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species, habi­tat loss con­tin­ues to threaten its exis­tence today. Nev­er­the­less, until this year, there was no avail­able den­sity esti­mate for ocelots in the Brazil­ian Ama­zon. The authors of this study used camera-​trap sur­veys from three con­sec­u­tive years and recently devel­oped mod­els to esti­mate ocelot den­sity in a pris­tine for­est area within Amanã Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Reserve in Cen­tral Amazonia.

The results help to improve our under­stand­ing of the ocelot spa­tial dis­tri­b­u­tion pat­tern and will be use­ful for refin­ing the ocelot extinc­tion risk assess­ment and under­pin­ning future con­ser­va­tion actions focused on the species.
Daniel Gomes da Rocha, lead author, Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Research Unit, Depart­ment of Zool­ogy, Uni­ver­sity of Oxford, UK »

The authors found that ocelot den­si­ties in the reserve were sta­ble dur­ing the three years of study (no sig­nif­i­cant growth or decline), with an aver­age of 25 ocelots per 100 km2. How­ever, this esti­mate is lower than expected for the region. The results sug­gest that the nat­ural ocelot den­sity in some pris­tine regions of the Ama­zon may in fact be lower than pre­dicted by pre­vi­ous mod­el­ling studies.

This study could not dis­tin­guish between the sexes, which may have affected den­sity esti­mates, as male ocelots tend to range over larger dis­tances than females do. Nonethe­less, the authors hope their results will help to clar­ify the ocelot’s ecol­ogy in the Brazil­ian Ama­zon and aid devel­op­ment of effec­tive long-​term con­ser­va­tion strategies.

(Source: PLOS ONE press release via EurekAlert!, 18.05.2016)

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