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Population status of Pan troglodytes verus in Lagoas de Cufada Natural Park, Guinea-Bissau

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Abstract

The western chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes verus, has been classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1988. Intensive agriculture, commercial plantations, logging, and mining have eliminated or degraded the habitats suitable for P. t. verus over a large part of its range. In this study we assessed the effect of land-use change on the population size and density of chimpanzees at Lagoas de Cufada Natural Park (LCNP), Guinea-Bissau. We further explored chimpanzee distribution in relation to landscape-level proxies of human disturbance. Nest count and distance-sampling methods were employed along 11 systematically placed linear transects in 2010 and 2011. Estimated nest decay rate was 293.9 days (%CV = 58.8). Based on this estimate of decay time and using the Standing-Crop Nest Count Method, we obtained a habitat-weighted average chimpanzee density estimate for 2011 of 0.22 nest building chimpanzees/km2 (95% CI 0.08–0.62), corresponding to 137 (95% CI 51.0–390.0) chimpanzees for LCNP. Human disturbance had a negative influence on chimpanzee distribution as nests were built farther away from human settlements, roads, and rivers than if they were randomly distributed, coinciding with the distribution of the remaining patches of dense canopy forest. We conclude that the continuous disappearance of suitable habitat (e.g. the replacement of LCNP's dense forests by monocultures of cashew plantations) may be compromising the future of one of the most threatened Guinean coastal chimpanzee populations. We discuss strategies to ensure long-term conservation in this important refuge for this chimpanzee subspecies at its westernmost margin of geographic distribution.
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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere71527
JournalPLoS One
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

    Research areas

  • Western chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes verus, Endangered species, Habitat, Population size, Population density, Lagoas de Cufada Natural Park , Human disturbance, Conservation

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