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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 46.1 (2023) Pages: 87-97

Scientific and traditional knowledge meet: diet of the lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris in the Orinoquia region of Colombia

Alviz, Á., González-González, P., Pérez-Torres, J.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2023.46.0087

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Abstract

The lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris is the second largest mammal in South America. It occupies a wide variety of ecosystems where it fulfills key functional roles. It is mainly folivorous, supplementing its diet with fruits, insects, and aquatic invertebrates. The lowland tapir is considered fundamental in shaping forest undergrowth and in seed dispersal processes. Despite its functional importance, ecological aspects related to diet, habitat use, and food preferences are still unknown in much of its geographic range. Currently, these aspects in the Colombian Orinoquia are unknown. We wanted to develop an approximation to the diet of the lowland tapir in the Colombian Orinoquia based on analysis of fecal samples and traditional knowledge derived from citizen science monitoring. Fecal samples were collected between October 2015 and July 2018 and vegetation monitoring and interviews with local communities were implemented. We recorded a total of 37 species of plants, 23 species of which were determined through traditional knowledge. The most representative species in fecal samples were Rudgea crassiloba, Attalea butyracea, Inga alba and Cecropia peltata. The plants most commonly recognized by local communities were Mauritia flexuosa, A. butyracea, Bellucia grossularioides and I. alba. Our results provide insight into the importance of tapirs in the consumption of large seeds such as M. flexuosa and A. butyracea that are considered of economic relevance for local communities. Incorporating citizen science monitoring allowed us to identify plant species that are taxonomically difficult to distinguish and to evaluate new information related to the natural history of cryptic species such as tapirs. This information is crucial to establish conservation strategies for the lowland tapir in the Orinoquia region of Colombia.

Keywords

Citizen science monitoring, Conservation, Diet, Ecology, Feeding, Foraging, Human communities

Cite

Alviz, Á., González-González, P., Pérez-Torres, J., 2023. Scientific and traditional knowledge meet: diet of the lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris in the Orinoquia region of Colombia. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 46: 87-97, DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2023.46.0087

Reception date:

09/11/2022

Acceptation date:

17/04/2023

Publication date:

24/04/2023

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