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European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 161–167 | Cite as

Estimating brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira and M. americana) abundance by dung pellet counts and other indices in seasonal Chiquitano forest habitats of Santa Cruz, Bolivia

  • Kathia Rivero
  • Damiàn I. Rumiz
  • Andrew B. Taber
Original Paper

Abstract

We assessed dung and track counts for indexing brocket deer abundance in seasonal habitats on a ranch where hunting is not practiced in the Bolivian lowlands. Surveys were replicated along four 10-km trails (totaling 180 km in the wet season and 90 km in the dry season) through four semideciduous forest habitats. Dung pellets and tracks were identified as belonging to Mazama gouazoubira or M. americana by size and shape. Pellet groups lasted more than 1 month during the dry season, but decayed within 1–2 weeks in the wet season. Mean density estimates based on dung counts varied widely between seasons for gray brockets (from 6.77±4.0 to 30.57±23.5 ind/km2; mean±SD) but not for reds (from 3.52±4.6 to 6.98±7.2 ind/km2). These values were probably too high due to underestimation of daily deposition rate, and were reduced during the wet season because of dung decay. We found consistently more dung in the dry season and more tracks in the wet season. Sightings of red brockets were too few for line-transect analysis (n=6), but those of gray brockets (n=42) produced an overall estimate of 5.6 ind/km2 (95% CI=3.5–9.0 ind/km2). Different estimates indicated that gray brockets were more abundant than reds in all situations, except perhaps in the riverine forest. Environmental factors affected these indices of abundance differently, and while we recommend the use of dung counts in dry-season scenarios, we think that index reliability should be assessed locally before conducting population comparisons.

Keywords

Mazama Brocket deer Dung pellets Abundance indices Density 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Ronald Larsen, the owner of the ranch, and Negro Mejía, don Adolfo and doña Dirma Pizarro for their invaluable support in the field. Fellow biologists Alfredo Fuentes, Jose Luis Santivañez, Erika Cuéllar, and Leo Maffei also made this study possible with their help and companionship at La Pascana. We are grateful to E. Cuéllar for allowing us to use her track-plot data and to Humberto Gomez for helping with the distance analysis. Louise Emmons, Rob Wallace, Andy Noss, Luis Pacheco, and two anonymous reviewers provided useful comments on the manuscript. The study was funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society through an agreement with the Museo Noel Kempff Mercado, UAGRM. The Santa Cruz Zoo kindly gave us access to their captive deer. This research complies with the current laws of Bolivia.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathia Rivero
    • 1
  • Damiàn I. Rumiz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew B. Taber
    • 2
  1. 1.Museo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff MercadoSanta CruzBolivia
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA

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