An assessment of the terrestrial mammal communities in forests of Central Panama, using camera-trap surveys

N.F.V. Meyer, H.J. Esser, R. Moreno, F. van Langevelde, Y. Liefting, D. Ros Oller, C.B.F. Vogels, A.D. Carver, C.K. Nielsen, P.A. Jansen

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The Isthmus of Panama, part of the planet’s third largest megadiversity hotspot, and connecting the faunas of North and South America, has lost more than half of its forest due to agriculture and economicdevelopment. It is unknown to what degree the remaining forest, which is fragmented and subject topoaching, still supports the wildlife diversity found in intact forests. Here, we use camera-trap surveysto assess whether forests in Central Panama, the narrowest and most disturbed portion of the Isthmus,still have intact communities of medium- and large-bodied terrestrial mammals. During 2005–2014,we collected camera-trap survey data from 15 national parks and forest fragments on both sides ofthe Panama Canal, and compared these to similar data from two sites in the intact Darién NationalPark in Eastern Panama, the nearest available reference. We found that most sites in Central Panama– including some of the national parks – had lower mammal species richness and evenness than thereference sites, and less structurally-complex mammal communities. Forests in Central Panama had littleor no apex predators and large terrestrial frugivores, with the exception of two sites directly connectedto the reference site. Our results indicate that the terrestrial mammal community in forests of CentralPanama is currently degraded, even inside national parks. These data provide a baseline for evaluating the success of conservation efforts to prevent the Panamanian Isthmus to become a bottleneck for movement of aniamls
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-35
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • rain-forest
  • habitat fragmentation
  • conservation status
  • neotropical forest
  • atlantic forest
  • tayassu-pecari
  • abundance
  • biodiversity
  • landscape
  • density


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