Ocelot Leopardus pardalis in Belize: the impact of trap spacing and distance moved on density estimates
Kelly, Marcella J.
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We used remote cameras to obtain information on an elusive species and to examine the effects of different camera trapping methodologies on abundance estimates. We determined activity pattern, trail use, trap success, and density of ocelot Leopardus pardalis in seven camera-trap surveys across two habitat types in western Belize: tropical broad-leaf rainforest and tropical pine forest. Ocelots in the rainforest were active mostly at night, in particular immediately after sunset, and they travelled on low-use roads (especially in the wet season) and high-use roads (especially in the dry season) more than established and newly cut trails. Trap success was relatively high in the rainforest (2.11-6.20 captures per 100 trap nights) and low in the pine forest (0.13-0.15 captures per 100 trap nights). Camera trapping combined with mark-recapture statistics gave densities of 25.82-25.88 per 100 km(2) in the broad-leaf versus 2.31-3.80 per 100 km(2) in the pine forest. Density estimates increased when animals repeatedly captured at the same camera (zero-distance moved animals) were included in the buffer size analysis. Density estimates were significantly negatively correlated with distance between cameras. We provide information on ocelot population status from an unstudied portion of its range and advise that camera trap methodologies be standardized to permit comparisons across sites.