Carrying capacity of vicunas in the Chimborazo Faunal Production Reserve, Ecuador
Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management
DisciplineNatural Resources Management
SubjectVicuna (Vicugna vicugna)
Chimborazo Faunal Production Reserve
Habitat use and selection (Vicuna)
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The Chimborazo Faunal Production Reserve (CFPR) and the reintroduction of the vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) is a success story for species conservation in South America. While the vicuna was once thought to be headed for extinction, its surprising population increase has led to a stable and widespread population. Within the CFPR, vicuna numbers have grown at a fast rate, prompting managers to consider the total carrying capacity of the reserve. Determining the carrying capacity of vicuna within the CFPR requires consideration for a variety of variables, including ecosystem use, water availability and interactions with livestock. Preliminary findings by this study indicate that distance to livestock is a very important factor in the distribution and habitat selection of vicuna and that vicuna appear to prefer areas near livestock. Areas of preferred habitat were found to be those in the paramo grassland (herbazal de paramo) ecosystem, near livestock and with adequate water sources nearby. In order to fully understand the complex relationship between vicuna and livestock in the CFPR, further studies should be conducted over longer periods of time.