Record Details

McCann, Niall Patrick
The conservation of Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) in Honduras
Cardiff University
Conservation;Genetics;Conservation Genetics;Ecology;Tapir;Baird's Tapir;Honduras;Presence;Deforestation;Transect;Hunting;Poaching;Extinction;Extinction Threat;Neotropics;Neotropical;Mesoamerica;Central America
This thesis tested hypotheses about the response of Baird’s tapir to rising anthropogenic pressure in Honduras. Baird’s tapir is the largest land mammal native to the Neotropics, and was previously abundant in all countries between Mexico and Ecuador. Patterns in Baird’s tapir occupancy in Honduras were modelled to test the effect of a range of environmental variables on the distribution and abundance of the species. Analyses of the genetic structure of Baird’s tapir in Honduras revealed very little genetic diversity at the mitochondrial genome. Only two haplotypes were identified from 69 samples successfully genotyped, representing a remarkably low level of diversity, which is likely to affect the viability of the species in the long-term. Occupancy and population estimates were generated for four protected areas, and for the remaining regions in Honduras where Baird’s tapir have been confirmed to remain. Occupancy was found to be associated with environmental variables relating to accessibility. Although the population estimates generated here exceed previous estimates, evidence of ongoing poaching and deforestation of tapir habitat suggests that Baird’s tapir populations in Honduras may not be viable outside of the protected areas of La Moskitia. Population Viability Analyses for the remaining areas of tapir occupancy in Honduras demonstrate the vulnerability of the species to habitat fragmentation and hunting pressure. Annual surveys in Cusuco National Park (PNC) from 2009 to 2012 investigated the conservation status of the species in this tapir stronghold over the duration of this PhD project. Patch occupancy analysis demonstrated that Baird’s tapir display a distribution bias in PNC associated with accessibility, and identified that Baird’s tapir are suffering a population decline that has the potential to cause the extirpation of the species from this Park within the next few years.