Habitat use and relative abundance of the Spotted Paca Cuniculus paca (Linnaeus, 1766) (Rodentia: Cuniculidae) and the Red-rumped Agouti Dasyprocta leporina (Linnaeus, 1758) (Rodentia: Dasyproctidae) in Guatopo National Park, Venezuela

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Elinor Jax
Sofía Marín
Adriana Rodríguez-Ferraro
Emiliana Isasi-Catalá


The Spotted Paca Cuniculus paca and the Red-rumped Agouti Dasyprocta leporina are affected by habitat loss and hunting.  In Venezuela, their conservation status is unknown, even within protected areas.  The objective of this study was to estimate the relative abundance, activity patterns, habitat use, and effect of human activities on these species in Venezuela.  To achieve this, 26 camera-trap stations (20.8km2) were established in Guatopo National Park between February and April 2011, characterization of the habitat was undertaken and occupancy models were created.  The relative abundance of the Spotted Paca was 1.62 captures/100trap-nights, with a fully nocturnal activity pattern.  The relative abundance of the Red-rumped Agouti was 2.32 captures/100trap-nights, with a pronounced diurnal activity pattern. The occupation probability of the Red-rumped Agouti (0.61 SE 0.02) was higher than that of the Spotted Paca (0.27 SE 0.02). Spotted Pacas were mainly found in areas with mature forest and high tree density, whereas the  Red-rumped Agoutis were most frequently found in valleys with little disturbed forest.  A positive correlation was found between illegal hunting activities and areas occupied by the Spotted Paca.  It is important to strengthen the park control measurements to reduce illegal hunting of Spotted Pacas.

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Author Biographies

Elinor Jax, Institute of Biology, Lund University, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

Elinor Jax has a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Ecology from Lund University. She has been involved in projects related to ecology, conservation, population genetics, and the effect of infectious diseases in wildlife populations. 

Sofía Marín, Laboratorio de Conservación y Manejo de Fauna Silvestre, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Valle de Sartenejas, Código postal 1020. Baruta, Caracas, Venezuela

Sofía Marín is a biologist at Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela. Her research focuses on the ecology and population biology of Lowland Tapirs Tapirus terrestris in Cordillera de la Costa. She is interested in the conservation of wildlife and socio-ecological interactions that allow sustainable management of natural resources. 

Adriana Rodríguez-Ferraro, Departamento de Estudios Ambientales, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Valle de Sartenejas, Código postal 1020, Baruta, Caracas, Venezuela

Adriana Rodríguez-Ferraro got her PhD at the University of Missouri-St- Louis and is currently an Associate Professor at Universidad Simón Bolívar. Her research area is on ecology and conservation of threatened and restricted-range terrestrial vertebrates, especially birds.

Emiliana Isasi-Catalá, Laboratorio de Conservación y Manejo de Fauna Silvestre, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Valle de Sartenejas, Código postal 1020. Baruta, Caracas, Venezuela

Emiliana Isasi-Catalá is a Doctor in Biological Sciences at Universidad Simón Bolívar. Her research area is the ecology and conservation of terrestrial vertebrates. She is particularly interested in the ecological study of surrogate species and species presenting conflicts with humans, such as big cats and their prey.


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