Common opossum population density in an agroforestry system in Bolivia

Densidad de carachupas en un sistema agroforestal de Bolivia

Camila BENAVIDES Alejandro ARCE Luis F. PACHECO About the authors


The common opossum, Didelphis marsupialis thrives near human settlements. Understanding its ecology could help planning management decisions about this species, especially in anthropogenic landscapes. Yet, there are no density estimations for this species throughout its distribution range in Bolivia. We estimated the density of D. marsupialis in a rural agricultural community, where agroforestry plantations and fallows cover most of the land. We counted individuals in line transects and used DISTANCE software to calculate density. We covered a total of 70.21 km in 143 night counts, obtaining 38 records of D. marsupialis. We estimated a density of 0.30 individuals ha-1 (SE = 0.062; range: 0.20 - 0.45 individuals ha-1), with a mean encounter rate of 0.54 individuals km-1. Encounter rate varied between habitats, with mean values of 0.20 in secondary forests and 0.64 in agroforestry plantations. Our density estimate is near the lower range of previously reported values for the common opossum in other countries. We argue that our results may reflect the response to the availability of food resources and predation pressure in agroforestry plantations.

Didelphis marsupialis; tropical agroecosystems; line transect; DISTANCE sampling

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