Estimating Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis Kerr, 1792 (Carnivora: Felidae) density in a degraded tropical forest fragment in northeastern Thailand

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Wyatt Joseph Petersen
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5543-4936
Tommaso Savini
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1610-6227
Robert Steinmetz
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4160-5834
Dusit Ngoprasert
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2008-4809

Abstract

The Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis is thought to be Asia’s most abundant wild cat.  Yet, the species’ status is poorly known due to a lack of rigorous population estimates.  Based on the few studies available, Leopard Cats appear to be more abundant in degraded forests, potentially due to increased prey availability.  We conducted camera trap surveys, rodent live-trapping, and spatially-explicit capture-recapture analyses to estimate the density of Leopard Cats within a degraded tropical forest fragment (148km2) in northeastern Thailand.  A total effort of 12,615 camera trap nights across 65km2 of trapping area resulted in at least 25 uniquely identified individuals.  Average rodent biomass (the main prey of Leopard Cats) was highest in the dry evergreen forest (469.0g/ha), followed by dry dipterocarp forest (287.5g/ha) and reforested areas (174.2g/ha).  Accordingly, Leopard Cat densities were highest in the dry evergreen forest with 21.42 individuals/100km2, followed by the reforested areas with 7.9 individuals/100km2.  Only two detections came from the dry dipterocarp forest despite both an extensive survey effort (4,069 trap nights) and available prey.  Although the dipterocarp supported the second highest average rodent biomass, it lacked a key prey species, Maxomys surifer, possibly explaining low encounter rates in that habitat.  Our results provide important baseline information concerning the population status of Leopard Cat in southeastern Asia.  Further, our findings corroborate with other studies that found a tolerance among Leopard Cats for degraded forests, highlighting the potential for forest fragments to serve as long-term conservation areas for the species.

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How to Cite
[1]
Petersen, W.J., Savini, T., Steinmetz, R. and Ngoprasert, D. 2019. Estimating Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis Kerr, 1792 (Carnivora: Felidae) density in a degraded tropical forest fragment in northeastern Thailand. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 11, 4 (Mar. 2019), 13448–13458. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.4553.11.4.13448-13458.
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Author Biographies

Wyatt Joseph Petersen, Conservation Ecology Program, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, 49 Soi Thientalay 25, Bangkhuntien-Chaitalay Road, Thakham, Bangkhuntien, Bangkok 10150, Thailand.

Wyatt J. Petersen is a wildlife biologist interested in the ecology and conservation of small and large carnivores. He has a bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State University and a master’s from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi.

Tommaso Savini, Conservation Ecology Program, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, 49 Soi Thientalay 25, Bangkhuntien-Chaitalay Road, Thakham, Bangkhuntien, Bangkok 10150, Thailand.

Tommaso Savini has been working for the past 15-years on the ecology of birds and mammals in the Southeast Asian tropical forests, looking at their behavioral ecology, landscape use, and conservation.

Robert Steinmetz, World Wide Fund for Nature – Thailand, 87 Phaholyothin 5, Samsen Nai, Phayathai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.

Robert Steinmetz has conducted ecological research, training, and site-based conservation projects in Southeast Asia for over 20 years. His interests include the ecology and conservation of bears and other large mammals. He also works closely with local people, conducting social science research on conservation-related changes in human attitudes and behavior.

Dusit Ngoprasert, Conservation Ecology Program, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, 49 Soi Thientalay 25, Bangkhuntien-Chaitalay Road, Thakham, Bangkhuntien, Bangkok 10150, Thailand.

Dusit Ngoprasert is interested in conservation of bears and several small carnivore species. His interests include population estimation, habitat selection, and distribution models. In addition, he conducts field research and teaches a method course and assists students/collaborators to deploy appropriate methodologies and undertake data analysis.

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