Date of this Version
Tanasarnpaiboon S. 2016. Gaur (Bos gaurus) abundance, distribution, and habitat use patterns in Kuiburi National Park, southwestern Thailand. Ph.D. Natural Resource Sciences. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.USA. 145pp.
Population status of gaur (Bos gaurus), a wild cattle, in most habitats where they are present, is still unknown. As the use of camera traps in wildlife studies are widespread, I developed photographic individual identification procedures and utilized encounter histories of gaur individuals from camera trap data to estimate gaur abundance and density using the spatially explicit capture-recapture analysis. The study was conducted at Kuiburi National Park, southwestern Thailand, comprised of dry evergreen forest, moist evergreen forest, and man-modified secondary forest during November 2013- January 2015. I conducted 71 direct observations in a savannah-like habitat area to observe the numbers, as well as the sex and age ratios of gaur. The maximum number of gaur per sampling occasion observed by direct observation was 89 gaur. The ratio of young to juvenile to adult was 1.6: 1.3: 1: The sex ratio was 1.7 females to 1 male. I also set up 56 camera trap locations for the total of 8,999 trap-nights to monitor gaur numbers and distribution. Camera traps captured 841 gaur encounters in 649 trap-nights at 41 locations. Both observation methods detected herds more frequently than solitary gaur. I identified 22 females (10 adults and 12 juveniles) and 44 males (33 adults and 11 juveniles) based on multiple horn characteristics, including shapes, coloration patterns, and corrugation patterns. The average adult density from photographic capture-recapture analysis was 2.5± 1.7SE gaur/100 km2 (95% CI = 0.8-8.2), yielding an adult abundance estimate of 48.2 ± 2.3SE gaur (95% CI = 45.1-54.5) living in the park during the study period. The total number of gaur calculated from the age ratio ranged from 198-239 gaur. Lowland areas with human-modified secondary forest habitats, dominated by grass patches, mineral licks, and reservoirs, have a high frequency of encounters and have greater concentration of gaur than the other zones, which are mainly composed of evergreen forests and are located in mountainous areas. This study is the first to apply photographic capture-recapture data to estimate the population density and abundance of a free-ranging ungulate in Thailand. The technique holds promise for conservation and management of threatened and endangered species that are inherently difficult to sample, but it still needs validation to improve the accuracy of population parameter estimates.
Advisor: John P. Carroll
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