Use of Atlantic Forest protected areas by free-ranging dogs: estimating abundance and persistence of use

By: , and 



Worldwide, domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are one of the most common carnivoran species in natural areas and their populations are still increasing. Dogs have been shown to impact wildlife populations negatively, and their occurrence can alter the abundance, behavior, and activity patterns of native species. However, little is known about abundance and density of the free-ranging dogs that use protected areas. Here, we used camera trap data with an open-robust design mark–recapture model to estimate the number of dogs that used protected areas in Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We estimated the time period these dogs used the protected areas, and explored factors that influenced the probability of continued use (e.g., season, mammal richness, proportion of forest), while accounting for variation in detection probability. Dogs in the studied system were categorized as rural free-ranging, and their abundance varied widely across protected areas (0–73 individuals). Dogs used protected areas near human houses for longer periods (e.g., >50% of sampling occasions) compared to more distant areas. We found no evidence that their probability of continued use varied with season or mammal richness. Dog detection probability decreased linearly among occasions, possibly due to the owners confining their dogs after becoming aware of our presence. Comparing our estimates to those for native carnivoran, we found that dogs were three to 85 times more abundant than ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), two to 25 times more abundant than puma (Puma concolor), and approximately five times more abundant than the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous). Combining camera trapping data with modern mark–recapture methods provides important demographic information on free-ranging dogs that can guide management strategies to directly control dogs' abundance and ranging behavior.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use of Atlantic Forest protected areas by free-ranging dogs: estimating abundance and persistence of use
Series title Ecosphere
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.1480
Volume 7
Issue 10
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description e01480; 15 p.
First page 1
Last page 15
Country Brazil
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