New Article to the Bibliography




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Title:    First spatially‐explicit density estimate for a snow leopard population in the Altai Mountains

Author:    Oberosler, V., Tenan, S., Groff, C., Krofel, M., Augugliaro, C., Munkhtsog, B., Rovero, F.

Abstract:    The snow leopard Panthera uncia is an elusive and globally-threatened apex predator occurring in the mountain ranges of central Asia. As with other large carnivores, gaps in data on its distribution and abundance still persist. Moreover, available density estimates are often based on inadequate sampling designs or analytical approaches. Here, we used camera trapping across a vast mountainous area (area of the sampling frame 850 km2; analysed habitat extent 2600 km2) and spatially-explicit capture-recapture (SECR) models to provide, to our knowledge, the first robust snow leopard population density estimate for the Altai Mountains. This region is considered one of the most important conservation areas for snow leopards, representing a vast portion of suitable habitat and a key ecological corridor. We also provide estimates of the scale parameter (σ) that reflects ranging behaviour (activity range) and baseline encounter probability, and investigated potential drivers of
 density and related parameters by assessing their associations with anthropogenic and environmental factors. Sampling yielded 9729 images of snow leopards corresponding to 224 independent detections that belonged to a minimum of 23 identified adult individuals. SECR analysis resulted in an overall density of 1.31 individuals/100 km2 (1.15%–1.50 95% CI), which was positively correlated with terrain slope. This estimate falls within the mid-values of the range of density estimates for the species globally. We estimated significantly different activity range size for females and males (79 and 329 km2, respectively). Base- line encounter probability was negatively associated with anthropogenic activity. Our study contributes to on-going efforts to produce robust global estimates of population abundance for this top carnivore.


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