Comparison of noninvasive genetics and camera trapping for estimating population density of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

Torrey W. Rodgers, Jacalyn Giacalone, Edward J. Heske, Jan E. Janečka, Christopher A. Phillips, Robert L. Schooley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Estimates of population density are essential for the effective conservation and management of any threatened species. Accurately estimating density of elusive carnivores can be a challenge, however. One approach to this challenge is integration of DNA collected noninvasively from feces with capture-recapture modeling. To date, the bias and precision of this technique have seldom been evaluated in the field. We compared density estimates of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) derived from fecal noninvasive genetic techniques to density estimates from camera trapping in the same population, during the same study period. Density estimates from the two techniques were comparable, especially when using spatially explicit capture-recapture models. Population density estimated using the program DENSITY was 1.74/km2 (SE = 0.584) from noninvasive genetics and 1.59/km2 (SE = 0.464) from camera trapping. These estimates also represent the highest reported ocelot population density within the species range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-705
Number of pages16
JournalTropical Conservation Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014



  • Elusive species conservation
  • Ocelot
  • Spatially-explicit capture-recapture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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