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Integrating occupancy modeling and interview data for corridor identification: A case study for jaguars in Nicaragua

January 1, 2011

Corridors are critical elements in the long-term conservation of wide-ranging species like the jaguar (Panthera onca). Jaguar corridors across the range of the species were initially identified using a GIS-based least-cost corridor model. However, due to inherent errors in remotely sensed data and model uncertainties, these corridors warrant field verification before conservation efforts can begin. We developed a novel corridor assessment protocol based on interview data and site occupancy modeling. We divided our pilot study area, in southeastern Nicaragua, into 71, 6 × 6 km sampling units and conducted 160 structured interviews with local residents. Interviews were designed to collect data on jaguar and seven prey species so that detection/non-detection matrices could be constructed for each sampling unit. Jaguars were reportedly detected in 57% of the sampling units and had a detection probability of 28%. With the exception of white-lipped peccary, prey species were reportedly detected in 82–100% of the sampling units. Though the use of interview data may violate some assumptions of the occupancy modeling approach for determining ‘proportion of area occupied’, we countered these shortcomings through study design and interpreting the occupancy parameter, psi, as ‘probability of habitat used’. Probability of habitat use was modeled for each target species using single state or multistate models. A combination of the estimated probabilities of habitat use for jaguar and prey was selected to identify the final jaguar corridor. This protocol provides an efficient field methodology for identifying corridors for easily-identifiable species, across large study areas comprised of unprotected, private lands.

Publication Year 2011
Title Integrating occupancy modeling and interview data for corridor identification: A case study for jaguars in Nicaragua
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.12.003
Authors K.A. Zeller, S. Nijhawan, R. Salom-Perez, S.H. Potosme, James E. Hines
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Conservation
Index ID 70036734
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center