Estimating leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis densities using photographic captures and recaptures
Wildlife Biology

472 kali dilihat

04 Januari 2021

Isi

Precise estimates of abundance and density are crucial for species conservation. For secretive felids, such as leopardcat Prionailurus bengalensis, acquiring such estimates based on conventional methods is difficult. We demonstratedthe possibility of individual identification of leopard cats using coat patterns, and estimated their density usingphotographic capture-recaptures in a small watershed (182 km2) of Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim,India. On comparing the different body parts, we found that hind-quarter had the maximum usability (83.9%) forindividual identification. The overall photo-capture rate representing an index of leopard cat relative abundancewascalculatedas3.761.27 captures/100 trap days. We used both non-spatial and spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) approaches to estimate leopard cat abundance and density.
Our spatially explicit modelsestimated leopard cat density as 17 65.33 (maximum-likelihood based approach) and 17.52 65.52 (Bayesianapproach with Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations) individuals/100 km2, while in our non-spatial model,density estimates varied from 18.01 to 22.25 individuals/100 km2. Camera trap results also indicated that theleopard cat used temperate and subtropical habitats to a large extent. Our study validated the applicability ofcamera trap based capture-recapture techniques to estimate the density of leopard cat. Therefore, we recommendthe use of this technique with appropriate site-specific modifications for population estimation and monitoring ofthis species throughout its distribution range.

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