Long-term studies from undisturbed forests provide a baseline by which to assess impacts of human activities, including climate change, on vertebrate population dynamics in lowland tropical forests. We use cameratrap data from January to March, 2005 to 2015, to examine patterns of variation in numbers of images and occupancy (proportion of cameras where images of a species were obtained), variables that may reflect changes in abundance or activity patterns of terrestrial mammals and birds in an undisturbed lowland forest of eastern Ecuador. We accumulated 1,961 independent records of 31 mammal species and 427 images of 17 bird species during 5,547 trap-days. Number of mammal species ranged from 15 to 25 per year (107 to 466 images), whereas birds ranged from 3 to 11 species per year (10 to 122 images). Capture rates varied both among species and among years but showed no evidence of declines; populations of several species appeared to increase (Priodontes maximus, Dasypus novemcinctus, Pecari tajacu, and Dasyprocta fuliginosa). Similarly, occupancy rates provided no indication of consistent declines; occupancy rates increased significantly for D. fuliginosa, D. novemcinctus, and P. maximus. There was no indication that variation in either capture rates or occupancy was related to variation in large-scale climate trends as represented by the Southern Oscillation Index. Results suggest that populations of most species that are well sampled by camera traps have remained relatively stable over 11 years. Long-term studies from other regions in the tropics are needed to evaluate the generality of this pattern.
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Vol. 98 • No. 4