Topography and disturbance explain mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) occupancy at its southernmost global range

José Luis Mena, Hiromi Yagui, Fabiola La Rosa, Pamela Pastor, Jorge Rivero, Robyn Appleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), the smallest of the three American tapirs, is the least studied species of the family Tapiridae and is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Globally Threatened Species. It plays a critical role in the functioning of ecosystems throughout the northern Andes as a seed predator and disperser of a wide diversity of plant species. Despite the ecological importance and conservation status of this species, information about its population ecology and habitat use are limited. Here, we assessed the influence of environmental (i.e., elevation, slope, NDVI) and anthropogenic disturbance, i.e., distance to roads (there is evidence that roads influence the detectability of tapirs, because it can act as barriers) on the occupancy of mountain tapirs. We conducted a camera trapping survey (115 camera-trap stations) during the dry season of 2016 along elevations from 1600 to 3600 m above sea level (m. a. s. l.) at the Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary (TNNS) in northern Peru. We detected the mountain tapir 128 times at 48 sites over 11,753 cumulative camera-days. The occupancy of the species was 0.48 and ranged from 0.36 to 0.61, and detectability was 0.12 ranged from 0.09 to 0.15. Occupancy was significantly and positively correlated with distance to roads and negatively with slope of terrain, and detectability was correlated with distance to water sources. We also found that mountain tapirs display predominantly nocturnal habits. Our results provide evidence that mountain tapir habitat use is probably affected by distance to roads. Mountain tapirs are currently sheltered within protected areas; however, increased land-use changes throughout their southern geographical range (especially outside protected areas) challenge their conservation, highlighting the urgent need for practical and effective actions that will ensure their long-term viability, such as conservation corridors among protected areas to ensure connectivity of tapir populations.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalMammalian Biology
Volume100
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Activity patterns
  • Detectability
  • Mountain tapir
  • Northern andes
  • Occupancy modeling
  • Peru
  • Tapirus pinchaque

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