Bachelor of Science
School or Department
Wildlife Biology – Terrestrial
Faculty Mentor Department
Dr. Erim Gomez, Dr. Hugh Robinson
camera trapping, Costa Rica, ecotourism, puma, ocelot, predator-prey
Biodiversity | Zoology
The use of camera trap surveys is increasingly common to investigate recurring diel activity of mammals. Investigation into the temporal overlap of mammals can provide unique insights into predator-prey dynamics. Understanding this relationship is essential to effectively manage and conserve both species. Extensive research across the tropics has found that daily activities of mammals were shaped by thermoregulation and trophic location in food webs. Although broad scale studies of daily patterns of mammals have enhanced our understanding of these constraints, many study sites included were remote protected areas under strict conservation measures. Such protected areas often had full complements of native species and low levels of human activity. For example, most studies of this kind in the Neotropics include both pumas (Puma concolor) and jaguars (Panthera onca). Thus, Neotropical predator-prey activity patterns may differ in areas of higher human activity, such as private land reserves or in areas where pumas are the apex predator. To test the effect of ecotourism on temporal overlap of predator-prey species, I used remote camera trapping data collected from Monteverde, Costa Rica. The data I used was collected from 16 remote cameras deployed over 819 camera trap nights. Cameras were placed on two private land reserves in the greater Monteverde area in 2021-2022. Both sites differed significantly in their amount of human activity in the form of recreational hikers. I analyzed daily activity patterns and temporal overlap using the R package ‘overlap’ to test whether overlap of predator-prey species differed in areas of high human activity compared to areas of lower human activity. During my study, I detected 21 pumas, 23 ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), 55 collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), 258 white-nosed coatis (Nasua narica), 674 Central American agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata), and 1507 humans. In general, overlap between predators and prey increased by about 23% at the site with higher human activity. For example, pumas overlapped more with agouti (by 29%) and coati (by 23%) in the site with higher human use. These results support the mutual attraction hypothesis outlined by Van Scoyoc et al. (2023) that predicts human activity will increase predator-prey overlap. My results have potential implications for ecotourism management in Monteverde and other Neotropical locales.
Honors College Research Project
GLI Capstone Project
Cremeans, Andrew, "Predators in Paradise: Ecotourism and Predator-Prey Dynamics in Monteverde, Costa Rica" (2023). Undergraduate Theses, Professional Papers, and Capstone Artifacts. 431.
© Copyright 2023 Andrew Cremeans