Occupancy rate and observations of Baird’s tapir (Tapirella bairdii) near waterholes in the Maya forest corridor, Belize

Wilber E Martinez, Rafael A. Reyna-Hurtado, Eduardo J. Naranjo, Daniel Thornton, Reynold N. Cal, Omar A. Figueroa


It is estimated that 25 % of the mammal species in the world are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, fragmentation, farming, and overexploitation. Baird’s tapir (Tapirella bairdii), an ungulate with part of its distribution within the Maya Forest, is at risk of extinction. Waterholes, a primary source for water and an essential element for the survival of tapirs, were the target of this study design. We used a camera-trap survey to determine tapir occupancy and detection rate probability models at seven survey stations at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve which is located within the Maya Forest Corridor in central Belize. The survey was carried out from March to September 2015 and from January 2017 to October 2019 with a total sampling effort of 8,932 camera-trap nights. Our results indicated a cumulative naïve occupancy estimate of 85.7 %, a rate probability of occupancy of 0.97 +/- 0.15 (SE), and a probability of detection of 0.14 +/- 0.01 for all sites and years. The results of occupancy models with human infrastructure covariate showed that the distance to roads model had the highest influence on tapir occurrence (β = -0.95 +/- 0.87), followed by the village covariate model (β = 0.77 +/- 0.99). The topographic covariate of river model (β = 0.47 +/- 0.85) had minimal support. This study highlights the critical importance of waterholes for survival of tapirs, and the influence of roads on tapir occurrence at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve.

Palabras clave

camera trap; central american tapir; distance to road; occupancy rate; Selva Maya

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