Context: Understanding the factors that determine the distribution and abundance of species is an important aim of ecology and prerequisite for conservation. The Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) and the pampas cat (L. colocolo) are two of the least studied felids. Both are threatened, of similar size and live sympatrically in the Andes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Perú. Aims: We aimed at estimating the population densities of the Andean cat and pampas cat in two continuous areas and to analyse the activity patterns of these two species and that of mountain vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia), the main prey of the Andean cat. Methods: We used camera traps to evaluate the density of both felid species using the space explicit capture recapture (SECR) framework and the overlap in their activity patterns with that of mountain vizcacha, using the kernel-density estimator in two contiguous areas in the Bolivian Altiplano, at Muro-Amaya and at Micani, both within the Ciudad de Piedra region. Key results: Andean cat density was estimated at 6.45 individuals per 100 km in Muro-Amaya and 6.91 individuals per 100 km in Micani, whereas the density of the pampas cat was 5.31 individuals per 100 km and 8.99 individuals per 100 km respectively. The Andean cat was mainly nocturnal, whereas the pampas cat was cathemeral. The activity of the mountain vizcacha overlapped less with that of its specialised predator, the Andean cat, than with that of the pampas cat. Conclusions: In line with our predictions, the Andean cat, considered a more specialised nocturnal hunter, particularly of mountain vizcacha, had lower population densities than did the more generalist pampas cat. Implications: Low population densities, as compared with theoretical expectations, pose an additional conservation problem for these felids, in an area such as the high Andes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We acknowledge the collaboration of indigenous authorities of Ayllu Pahaza, and the Municipality of Calacoto. This research was funded by Wildlife Conservation Network, Small Cats Action Fund (Panthera Foundation), Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (Project: 11053162), and Iniciativa de Especies Amenazadas Becas ‘Werner Hana-garth’ (Fundación Puma). We also want to thank the support granted by the Andean Cat Alliance, ESRI Conservation Program, Idea Wild, Instituto de Ecología at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, and the Wildlife Conservation Society of Bolivia. Our thanks also go to Alejandra Torrez for her constant support. Herminio Ticona, Jim Sanderson, Miguel Saavedra, Mauricio Peñaranda, Yony Quiñones, and Gregorio Roque helped during fieldwork. We are grateful to Susan Walker for helpful comments on a previous version of this manuscript and two anonymous reviewers provided useful comments to the previous version of this manuscript.
© 2020 CSIRO.
- endangered species
- generalist species
- spatially explicit capture-recapture
- specialist species