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Occurrence dynamics of mammals in protected tropical forests respond to human presence and activities


Protected areas (PAs) play a vital role in wildlife conservation. Nonetheless there is concern and uncertainty regarding how and at what spatial scales anthropogenic stressors influence the occurrence dynamics of wildlife populations inside PAs. Here we assessed how anthropogenic stressors influence occurrence dynamics of 159 mammal species in 16 tropical PAs from three biogeographic regions. We quantified these relationships for species groups (habitat specialists and generalists) and individual species. We used long-term camera-trap data (1,002 sites) and fitted Bayesian dynamic multispecies occupancy models to estimate local colonization (the probability that a previously empty site is colonized) and local survival (the probability that an occupied site remains occupied). Multiple covariates at both the local scale and landscape scale influenced mammal occurrence dynamics, although responses differed among species groups. Colonization by specialists increased with local-scale forest cover when landscape-scale fragmentation was low. Survival probability of generalists was higher near the edge than in the core of the PA when landscape-scale human population density was low but the opposite occurred when population density was high. We conclude that mammal occurrence dynamics are impacted by anthropogenic stressors acting at multiple scales including outside the PA itself.

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Fig. 1: Distribution of study locations.
Fig. 2: Effect of habitat- and human pressure-related covariates on colonization and survival probability for habitat specialists and generalists.
Fig. 3: Mean predicted colonization probability for specialists and generalists in relation to habitat- and human pressure-related covariates.
Fig. 4: Density plot for species-specific β coefficients for colonization probability.
Fig. 5: Density plot for species-specific β coefficients for survival probability.

Data availability

Covariates included in our model are based on publicly available data and extracted values are in a Figshare repository (, as well as the R script to subset and organize the data. The detection non-detection matrix is also available from Figshare and raw camera-trap data from the TEAM Network are available on the Wildlife Insights platform (

Code availability

All code to reproduce the analysis has been archived on Figshare (


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This work was made possible by the TEAM Network, a collaboration between Conservation International, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Wildlife Conservation Society. We thank all current and previous TEAM site managers and all people and institutions involved in fieldwork. This work was supported by the Research Council of Norway (project NFR301075 to A.S.P., D.S. and R.B.). L.B. was also supported by the National Science Foundation grant (DEB-2213568)

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Authors and Affiliations



D.S. and R. Bischof accessed funding. A.S.P., D.S. and R. Bischof conceptualized the study. A.S.P. developed and performed the analyses. R. Bischof, P.D. and S.D. contributed to the analyses. A.S.P. wrote the manuscript with support from R. Bischof, D.S. and L.B. Camera-trap data collection in the TEAM study areas was carried out by D.S., J.A., E.A., R. Bitariho, S.E., P.A.J., M.G.M.L., E.H.M., B.M., F.R., F.S. and E.U. The manuscript was finalized by A.S.P., with input and approval from all authors.

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Correspondence to Asunción Semper-Pascual.

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Nature Ecology & Evolution thanks Ana Benítez-López, Nicolas Deere and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

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Supplementary Methods 1–4, Figs. 1–13 and Tables 1–4.

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Semper-Pascual, A., Sheil, D., Beaudrot, L. et al. Occurrence dynamics of mammals in protected tropical forests respond to human presence and activities. Nat Ecol Evol 7, 1092–1103 (2023).

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