|Town/Region||Terney, Primorski Krai|
|Date||10 Oct 2007|
Tiger populations are endangered throughout their range. Unique, even among tigers, the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) occurs at extremely low densities unlike other great cats, with only 400 to 500 individuals remaining in Russia, China, and North Korea. The political, environmental, and ecological conditions associated with Amur tiger populations challenge managers who seek to conserve the species. In particular, estimates of abundance have been difficult to obtain, but are critical to setting conservation priorities for and monitoring this species.
Accordingly, this study aims to evaluate six of the most promising methods to estimate Amur tiger numbers. Data will be collected at a long-term research site in the Russian Far East using camera-trapping, DNA analysis of hair and scat, winter track counts, scat identification by dogs, and track identification by the program PUGMARK 1.0.
Specifically, the candidate sampling methods will be carried out in each of the four major river basins within the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve over the course of two years. Trapping sessions will be carried out four times each year and last for a period of two and a half to three months during which time multiple sampling methods will be tested simultaneously. Following data collection, each approach will be appraised using a hierarchical rubric that includes analysis for statistical precision and bias along with evaluation of logistical constraints and cost.
Results will guide the selection of methods for tiger monitoring locally and may have a heuristic impact for similar species worldwide. The design of the work, as a cooperative effort with a Russian graduate student, will result in the added benefit of increasing the professional capacity of young Russian conservation biologists as well as fostering international camaraderie between scientists. It is our hope that the sampling method ultimately recommended on the basis of this research will be implemented within a year of the project’s completion.
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