Monitoring species of mammals using track collection by rangers in the Tilarán mountain range, Costa Rica
Keywords:Citizen-science, Cuniculus paca, endangered species, environmental education, Monteverde, Panthera onca, reserve management.
AbstractAlthough monitoring of animal populations for informed decision making is fundamental for the conservation and management of biodiversity, monitoring programs are not widely implemented. In addition, monitoring plans often represent an economic burden for many conservation organizations. Here we report on the monitoring of five focal species of mammals in the Tilarán mountain range, Costa Rica. We used a participatory approach in which trained rangers of four institutions conducted trail surveys in an area of ca 50,000ha to determine the presence/absence of the paca (Cuniculus paca), collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), tapir (Tapirus bairdii), jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) using track collections. Permanent transects of 3 km were sampled on the same day every month in 2000-01 (141 km) and 2009-10 (303 km). Four of the five focal species were registered in our sampling. One of the most valuable outcomes of the study was the initiative of the rangers to train community members to participate in the monitoring plan. We believe that this participatory approach not only has great potential for the integration of rangers in long term monitoring, but also the incorporation of citizen science-based programs. Multi-institutional collaboration for species monitoring could reduce costs and increase the sampling effort.
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