P3.1 Friday, Jan. 6 Margay (Leopardus wiedii) habitat preference based on vegetation structure in the eastern Andean foothills of Ecuador HODGE, Anne-Marie C.; Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington email@example.com
The margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a small, spotted felid that faces critical population declines in many regions within its range throughout Central and South America. This species is thought to be the most arboreal cat species in the Americas, which has led to concern that it may be especially sensitive to deforestation and habitat destruction. The margay is elusive and relatively rare, and little is known about its ecology and natural history. Here I present the results of a study conducted at a mid-elevation site in the eastern Andean foothills of Ecuador. A camera trap survey was used to investigate whether margay abundance and activity patterns and correlated to vegetational structure in a mid-elevation forest. Camera transects were placed along both edge and interior forest habitats, and several structural habitat variables were assessed in order to identify whether any of these factors are predictive of margay presence and/or abundance. The data showed that canopy cover and tree dispersion were significant predictors of margay trap success. These results highlight the importance of curbing habitat destruction and deforestation as part of efforts to reverse the margay’s declining population trend and protect habitat conducive to restoring populations.