Baird's tapir density in high elevation forests of the Talamanca region of Costa Rica

Authors

  • José F. GONZÁLEZ-MAYA,

    1. Sierra to Sea Institute, ProCAT Internacional/Colombia, Las Alturas, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
    2. Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (IE-UNAM), Ciudad Universitaria, DF, Mexico
    3. Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Mississippi State University, Mississippi, USA
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  • Jan SCHIPPER,

    1. Sierra to Sea Institute, ProCAT Internacional/Colombia, Las Alturas, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
    2. Big Island Invasive Species Committee, University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii, USA
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  • Beth POLIDORO,

    1. Sierra to Sea Institute, ProCAT Internacional/Colombia, Las Alturas, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
    2. Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
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  • Annelie HOEPKER,

    1. Sierra to Sea Institute, ProCAT Internacional/Colombia, Las Alturas, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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  • Diego ZÁRRATE-CHARRY,

    1. Sierra to Sea Institute, ProCAT Internacional/Colombia, Las Alturas, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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  • Jerrold L. BELANT

    1. Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Mississippi State University, Mississippi, USA
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Correspondence: José F. González-Maya, Sierra to Sea Institute, ProCAT Internacional/Colombia, Las Alturas de Cotón, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Email: jfgonzalezmaya@gmail.com

Abstract

Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) is currently endangered throughout its neotropical range with an expected population decline >50% in the next 30 years. We present the first density estimation of Baird's tapir for the Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica, and one of the first for the country. Ten stations with paired cameras were established in Valle del Silencio within Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA). Seventy-seven tapir pictures of 15 individuals comprising 25 capture–recapture events were analyzed using mark-recapture techniques. The 100% minimum convex polygon of the sampled area was 5.7 km2 and the effective sampled area using half mean maximum distances moved by tapirs was 7.16 km2. We estimated a tapir density of 2.93 individuals/km2 which represents the highest density reported for this species. Intermountain valleys can represent unique and important habitats for large mammal species. However, the extent of isolation of this population, potentially constrained by steep slopes of the cordillera, remains unknown. Further genetic and movement studies are required to understand meta-population dynamics and connectivity between lowland and highland areas for Baird's tapir conservation in Costa Rica.

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