Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Effectiveness of Panama as an intercontinental land bridge for large mammals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Ninon F.V. Meyer, Ricardo Moreno, Christopher Sutherland, J. Antonio de la Torre, Helen J. Esser, Christopher A. Jordan, Melva Olmos, Josué Ortega, Rafael Reyna-Hurtado, Samuel Valdes, Patrick A. Jansen

School/Research organisations


Habitat fragmentation is a primary driver of wildlife loss, and establishment of biological corridors is a common strategy to mitigate this problem. A flagship example is the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC), which aims to connect protected forest areas between Mexico and Panama to allow dispersal and gene flow of forest organisms. Because forests across Central America have continued to degrade, the functioning of the MBC has been questioned, but reliable estimates of species occurrence were unavailable. Large mammals are suitable indicators of forest functioning, so we assessed their conservation status across the Isthmus of Panama, the narrowest section of the MBC. We used large-scale camera-trap surveys and hierarchical multispecies occupancy models in a Bayesian framework to estimate the occupancy of 9 medium to large mammals and developed an occupancy-weighted connectivity metric to evaluate species-specific functional connectivity. White-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), jaguar (Panthera onca), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and tapir (Tapirus bairdii) had low expected occupancy along the MBC in Panama. Puma (Puma concolor), red brocket deer (Mazama temama), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), and collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), which are more adaptable, had higher occupancy, even in areas with low forest cover near infrastructure. However, the majority of species were subject to ≥1 gap that was larger than their known dispersal distances, suggesting poor connectivity along the MBC in Panama. Based on our results, forests in Darien, Donoso–Santa Fe, and La Amistad International Park are critical for survival of large terrestrial mammals in Panama and 2 areas need restoration.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
Early online date6 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

    Research areas

  • Bayesian statistics, Bosque neotropical, community-level distribution, conectividad del paisaje, Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano, distribución a nivel de comunidad, estadística bayesiana, hierarchical occupancy modeling, landscape connectivity, Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, modelaje de ocupación jerárquica, Neotropical forest

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Abiotic stress and biotic factors mediate range dynamics on opposing edges

    Sirén, A. P. K., Sutherland, C. S., Bernier, C. A., Royar, K. J., Kilborn, J. R., Callahan, C. B., Cliché, R. M., Prout, L. S. & Morelli, T. L., 5 Apr 2021, In: Journal of Biogeography. Early view, 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. SNAPSHOT USA 2019: a coordinated national camera trap survey of the United States

    Cove, M. V., Kays, R., Bontrager, H., Bresnan, C., Lasky, M., Frerichs, T., Klann, R., Lee, T. E., Crockett, S. C., Crupi, A. P., Weiss, K. C. B., Rowe, H., Sprague, T., Schipper, J., Tellez, C., Lepczyk, C. A., Fantle-Lepczyk, J. E., LaPoint, S., Williamson, J., Fisher-Reid, M. C. & 134 others, King, S. M., Bebko, A. J., Chrysafis, P., Jensen, A. J., Jachowski, D. S., Sands, J., MacCombie, K. A., Herrera, D. J., van der Merwe, M., Knowles, T. W., Horan, R. V., Rentz, M. S., Brandt, L. S. E., Nagy, C., Barton, B. T., Thompson, W. C., Maher, S. P., Darracq, A. K., Hess, G., Parsons, A. W., Wells, B., Roemer, G. W., Hernandez, C. J., Gompper, M. E., Webb, S. L., Vanek, J. P., Lafferty, D. J. R., Bergquist, A. M., Hubbard, T., Forrester, T., Clark, D., Cincotta, C., Favreau, J., Facka, A. N., Halbur, M., Hammerich, S., Gray, M., Rega-Brodsky, C. C., Durbin, C., Flaherty, E. A., Brooke, J. M., Coster, S. S., Lathrop, R. G., Russell, K., Bogan, D. A., Cliché, R., Shamon, H., Hawkins, M. T. R., Marks, S. B., Lonsinger, R. C., O'Mara, M. T., Compton, J. A., Fowler, M., Barthelmess, E. L., Andy, K. E., Belant, J. L., Beyer, D. E., Kautz, T. M., Scognamillo, D. G., Schalk, C. M., Leslie, M. S., Nasrallah, S. L., Ellison, C. N., Ruthven, C., Fritts, S., Tleimat, J., Gay, M., Whittier, C. A., Neiswenter, S. A., Pelletier, R., DeGregorio, B. A., Kuprewicz, E. K., Davis, M. L., Dykstra, A., Mason, D. S., Baruzzi, C., Lashley, M. A., Risch, D. R., Price, M. R., Allen, M. L., Whipple, L. S., Sperry, J. H., Hagen, R. H., Mortelliti, A., Evans, B. E., Studds, C. E., Sirén, A. P. K., Kilborn, J., Sutherland, C., Warren, P., Fuller, T., Harris, N. C., Carter, N. H., Trout, E., Zimova, M., Giery, S. T., Iannarilli, F., Higdon, S. D., Revord, R. S., Hansen, C. P., Millspaugh, J. J., Zorn, A., Benson, J. F., Wehr, N. H., Solberg, J. N., Gerber, B. D., Burr, J. C., Sevin, J., Green, A. M., Şekercioğlu, Ç. H., Pendergast, M., Barnick, K. A., Edelman, A. J., Wasdin, J. R., Romero, A., O'Neill, B. J., Schmitz, N., Alston, J. M., Kuhn, K. M., Lesmeister, D. B., Linnell, M. A., Appel, C. L., Rota, C., Stenglein, J. L., Anhalt-Depies, C., Nelson, C., Long, R. A., Jaspers, K. J., Remine, K. R., Jordan, M. J., Davis, D., Hernández-Yáñez, H., Zhao, J. Y. & McShea, W. J., 1 Apr 2021, In: Ecology. p. e03353

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Mesocarnivore community structuring in the presence of Africa's apex predator

    Curveira-Santos, G., Sutherland, C., Tenan, S., Fernández-Chacón, A., Mann, G. K. H., Pitman, R. T. & Swanepoel, L. H., 10 Mar 2021, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 288, 1946, 10 p., 20202379.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Optimal sampling design for spatial capture-recapture

    Dupont, G., Royle, J. A., Nawaz, M. A. & Sutherland, C., Mar 2021, In: Ecology. 102, 3, 9 p., e03262.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Fast, flexible alternatives to regular grid designs for spatial capture-recapture

    Durbach, I. N., Borchers, D. L., Sutherland, C. & Sharma, K., Feb 2021, In: Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 12, 2, p. 298-310

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Conservation Biology (Journal)

    Ife Okafor-Yarwood (Reviewer)

    4 Nov 2020 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Ensuring tests of conservation interventions build on existing literature

    Sutherland, W. J., Alvarez-Castañeda, S. T., Amano, T., Ambrosini, R., Atkinson, P., Baxter, J. M., Bond, A. L., Boon, P. J., Buchanan, K. L., Barlow, J., Bogliani, G., Bragg, O. M., Burgman, M., Cadotte, M. W., Calver, M., Cooke, S. J., Corlett, R. T., Devictor, V., Ewen, J. G., Fisher, M. & 25 others, Freeman, G., Game, E., Godley, B. J., Gortázar, C., Hartley, I. R., Hawksworth, D. L., Hobson, K. A., Lu, M. L., Martín-López, B., Ma, K., Machado, A., Maes, D., Mangiacotti, M., McCafferty, D. J., Melfi, V., Molur, S., Moore, A. J., Murphy, S. D., Norris, D., van Oudenhoven, A. P. E., Powers, J., Rees, E. C., Schwartz, M. W., Storch, I. & Wordley, C., 11 Aug 2020, In: Conservation Biology. 34, 4, p. 781-783 3 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

  2. Incorporating connectivity into conservation planning for optimal representation of multiple species and ecosystem services

    Williams, S. H., Scriven, S. A., Burslem, D. F. R. P., Hill, J. K., Reynolds, G., Agama, A. L., Kugan, F., Maycock, C. R., Khoo, E., Hastie, A. Y. L., Sugau, J. B., Nilus, R., Pereira, J. T., Tsen, S. L. T., Lee, L. Y., Juiling, S., Hodgson, J. A., Cole, L. E. S., Asner, G. P., Evans, L. J. & 1 others, Brodie, J. F., 11 Aug 2020, In: Conservation Biology. 34, 4, p. 934-942

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Four priorities for new links between conservation science and accounting research

    Feger, C., Mermet, L., Vira, B., Addison, P. F. E., Barker, R., Birkin, F., Burns, J., Cooper, S., Couvet, D., Cuckston, T., Daily, G. C., Dey, C., Gallagher, L., Hails, R., Jollands, S., Mace, G., Mckenzie, E., Milne, M., Quattrone, P., Rambaud, A. & 3 others, Russell, S., Santamaria, M. & Sutherland, W. J., 8 Jul 2019, In: Conservation Biology. 33, 4, p. 972-975 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Reserve design to optimize functional connectivity and animal density

    Gupta, A., Dilkina, B., Morin, D. J., Fuller, A. K., Royle, J. A., Sutherland, C. & Gomes, C. P., 1 Oct 2019, In: Conservation Biology. 33, 5, p. 1023-1034 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 272474938