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.
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