Eduardo Mendoza Ramirez Ph.D.
Post Doc, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Research: Population size and habitat preferences of the endangered Tapirus bairdii in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, Mexico
Species/Topic: Central American or Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii)
Abstract: The Central American or Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) is by far the largest native mammal inhabiting tropical forests in Mesoamerica. This species was originally distributed from Ecuador and Colombia to southern Mexico. However, the combined effects of habitat loss, hunting and disease have caused the extinction of Baird's tapir populations all over its distribution range. It is estimated that Baird's tapir global population has declined by 50% in the last three decades putting the species in a severe level of threat. Since tapirs are avid consumers of fruit and plants, the extinction of their populations has the potential to impact forest regeneration. The assessment of the impact of anthropogenic perturbation on tapir populations has been greatly limited by the secretive habits of this species. This study will apply a novel approach combining camera-trapping, remote sensing and mathematical modeling with the goal of producing a very detailed assessment of tapir's population size, patterns of activity and habitat preferences in a key stronghold for the species, El Triunfo biosphere reserve in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, southern Mexico. This information will be used to evaluate the magnitude of the impact of anthropogenic perturbations on tapir populations and to implement conservation actions and monitoring.