What happens when a pandemic strikes and travelers are no longer hiking or visiting natural areas? Research, of course! Since there are no visitors allowed in protected areas in Panama, I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to assess whether local forest mammals will avoid the trails less with fewer human visitors. I deployed cameras traps at the edge of trails and in the interior forest to compare how often local mammals visit these areas now that there are less tourists in the area and will continue monitoring until visitors return. These observations will help us understand the carrying capacity (i.e. a species’ average population size in a particular habitat that is limited by environmental factors such as food, water, or even human presence and disturbance) of animals in protected areas that we can use to promote sustainable tourism.
[Photo and caption by Claudio Monteza]
[Edited by Karli Chudeau]