Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 21551.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021551

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Overview of monitoring methods for tigers, leopards and ungulate prey

Yi Wei, Guangshun Jiang()   

  1. College of Wildlife and Protected Area, Northeast Forestry University, Feline Research Center of National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Harbin 150040
  • Received:2021-12-31 Accepted:2022-07-14 Online:2022-09-20 Published:2022-07-29
  • Contact: Guangshun Jiang


Background & Aim: Species conservation efforts require an understanding of population sizes. For predators such as tigers and leopards, it is also vital to monitor populations of their ungulate prey. In recent years, monitoring methods for tigers and leopards mainly entailed derivations from capture-recapture models based on data from noninvasive sampling and camera traps. Meanwhile, ungulate prey populations were monitored using line transects, belt transects, sample plots, camera trapping, and also using the capture-recapture model based on data from noninvasive genetic methods. Each monitoring technique has different assumptions and is based on varying ecological principles, and, as a consequence, accuracy also varies. Thus the applicability of each method depends on the biological characteristics and population distribution of study species, monitoring targets, and spatial scales of interest. We present details about common monitoring methods, including specific procedures and statistical principles. We also analyze advantages and disadvantages of these methods to provide reference for selecting the appropriate one for monitoring projects going forth.
Review Results: While monitoring population of tiger, leopard, and ungulate populations, it is necessary to select appropriate methods based on the population status of the target species in the focal area (i.e., considering distribution law and dynamic characteristics) and monitoring targets. For monitoring of tigers and leopards, for instance, excessive intensity in the study area may result in pseudoreplication, which may lead to habitat disturbance and waste of resources. Meanwhile, using automated-camera traps set for monitoring tigers and leopards to assess ungulate population size may be inappropriate.
Perspectives: Population surveys on tigers, leopards and ungulates can benefit from combining monitoring methods to achieve more accurate population estimations in the future. Recent advances in artificial intelligence technologies, in particular, are helpful for increasing monitoring accuracy by automatically identificating individual tigers and leopards and prevent repeated counts. Not only can this save labor costs, but it is also much higher in accuracy compared to traditional methods.

Key words: Panthera tigris, Panthera pardus, ungulate, population size, monitoring method