Population Dynamics of the Critically Endangered Golden Lancehead Pitviper, Bothrops insularis: Stability or Decline?

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Guimaraes, Murilo
Munguia-Steyer, Roberto
Doherty, Paul F.
Martins, Marcio
Sawaya, Ricardo Janini [UNIFESP]
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Little is known about vital rates of snakes generally because of the difficulty in collecting data. Here we used a robust design mark-recapture model to estimate survival, behavioral effects on capture probability, temporary emigration, abundance and test the hypothesis of population decline in the golden lancehead pitviper, Bothrops insularis, an endemic and critically endangered species from southeastern Brazil. We collected data at irregular intervals over ten occasions from 2002 to 2010. Survival was slightly higher in the wet season than in the dry season. Temporal emigration was high, indicating the importance of accounting for this parameter both in the sampling design and modeling. No behavioral effects were detected on capture probability. We detected an average annual population decrease (lambda = 0.93, CI = 0.47- 1.38) during the study period, but estimates included high uncertainty, and caution in interpretation is needed. We discuss the potential effects of the illegal removal of individuals and the implications of the vital rates obtained for the future persistence and conservation of this endemic, endangered species.
Plos One. San Francisco: Public Library Science, v. 9, n. 4, 7 p., 2014.