Diana Cuevas Correa

Estimation of the Population State, Habitat Preference of the Three-Toed Sloth Bradypus Variegates Gorgon and Considerations for its Conservation in Gorgona National Natural Park, Colombia

Gorgona National Natural ParkColombiaCentral and Latin America, Habitat, Mammals11 Jul 2006

In Colombia and especially on the pacific coast and at insular level; in National Natural Gorgona Park, few studies have been carried out on Biology, Ecology and population aspects of the species Bradypus variegatus. This research intends to present a first study approach in ecology related to population density, habitat preferences and support of the species diet on environments with different conservation and vegetal levels

The orientation of the research responds in great measure to the fact that the Gorgona Island experienced a generalized perturbation in its original vegetal layer, which led to drastic changes in its structure and composition (POT PNN Gorgona, 2004). Likewise, the opening of the prison in 1949 generated an important alteration of the population of the Bradypus variegatus gorgon due to hunting and manipulation of the species by the settlers and prisoners for profit and recreational purposes (talks with island guide, Oct 2004). Additionally the impact generated by the wood loggers and hunting for food. (POT PNN Gorgona, 2004).

In the last decade it’s being observed by island government agents and researchers, the death of a significant number of individuals for unknown , non determined causes (interview with Camilo Gomez, Gorgona Park Sub-director, 2004, documented report by the necropsies to an individual of the species carried out by veterinarian Delio Orjuela from Angel Laboratories in Cali, 1999). The presence of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Streptococcus bovis suggest a pathogen contamination by the time of the prison when beef cattle was introduced. The former leads to think that the present species population is in serious danger of reduction. The UICN shows this species as vulnerable.

It is important to take into account that the species is susceptible to environment and structural changes. Alberico and Rojas; in Ceballos and Simonetti, 2002 classified it as endemic subspecies, then it is necessary to determine the current population state of the species in the island in order to develop processes of handling and conservation.

This way, the present study will allow evaluating species population aspects in a protected area and in recuperation process, fact that serves to observe how populations respond to areas with different degrees of perturbation. On other part it is expected that the project works as a base and comparison point of later studies in several aspects of biology, ecology and diet at island and continental levels.

The importance of this research lays on the attempt to estimate the population density in three areas with different degrees of perturbation, by means of tours and direct observation of 30 transects in each area, during a period of 2 and a half months between November and February.

The habitat preference in the different areas will be evaluated by taking habitat structural data and the vegetation where manure is found thus letting to evidence forms of habitat and behavior. On the other hand the meetings will be geo-referenced in order to determine distribution maps in the areas of the study.

For more information, contact dcuevas@javeriana.edu.co.

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