Subisidiënt: Ignacio Jimenez Senen/Wageningen Universiteit
The spectacled bear´s current range has an elongated shape, which makes the bear population incredibly sensitive to fragmentation and habitat loss. Even though parks and reserves are legally protected, livestock lands continue to increase inside the protected areas of Ecuador. This research will focus on assessing the habitat “quality” in terms of food availability (frequency) and landscape features that can affect bear movement between three protected areas in the Napo region of Ecuador. A comparison between food available inside a protected (Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve) and the cloud forest patches between them will help to show the degree of degradation of the habitat for the spectacled bear. As well, a suitability map with the different anthropogenic landscape features will be produced that can help designated priority areas for the spectacled bear outside the protected areas (PAs). This study used transects established in the areas between the three PAs across pasture lands and patches of cloud forest to record any potential food source for the spectacled bear and any bear sign and compare them with the abundance of food sources inside Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. Software ArcGIS.10 was used to create a suitability map of the study area with nine different variables: 1. Urban Area, 2. villages, 3. houses (Permanently or partial inhabited, farmhouse), 4. roads, 5. path, 6. river, 7. food availability, 8. bear sign & 9. Land use inside PA. The main finding of this study is the high degradation of the remnants forest patches outside the PAs. The forest patches in the buffer area between the PAs showed a lower food abundance for the spectacled bear compared with the food available inside Cayambe Coca ecological reserve. The study showed as well how livestock lands are trespassing into the three PAs in the study area. This can be negative for the food availability for the spectacled bear as the same process of degradation of forest patches in the buffer zone can occur as well inside the PAs due to the encroachment of land used for livestock. Another main finding of this study is how bears try to avoid places with higher human influence. Bear signs were found farther away from urban areas and villages, and the variable of individual houses showed a significant difference between transects with or without bear signs.