POPULATION DYNAMICS AND CONSERVATION STATUS OF THE INSULAR CAVYCAVIA INTERMEDIA(RODENTIA: CAVIIDAE)

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Abstract

Cavia intermedia may be the mammal with the smallest geographical distribution in the world, because it is endemic to a 10-ha island and therefore vulnerable to extinction. The objective of this study was to understand the population dynamics of C. intermedia in order to define its conservation status and to provide information for its management. The population was sampled monthly using capture-mark-recapture methods and radiotelemetry for 16 months, between March 2004 and June 2005. A total of 5,530 trap-nights resulted in 665 captures of 141 individuals. The population exhibited the main demographic characteristics of the insular syndrome, such as high and stable density, small home ranges, stable age structure composed mostly of adults, and high survival rates. The population dynamics were characterized by density-dependent effects on mortality. C. intermedia can be considered one of the rarest species on the planet because of its limited geographic distribution and very small population size (average estimated population of 42 individuals). We recommend that it be listed as Critically Endangered.

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