Sampling Methods

Tropical forests are so diverse that studying the faunas and floras that comprise them is a fundamental challenge. Different methods are effective for different species. Accordingly, a diverse sampling regimen is needed to generate a reasonably complete picture of the functioning ecosystem. However, even this composite picture--a collage of methods--is generally incomplete.

Our sampling of faunas in the Manu Biosphere Reserve relied on the extensive field experience of team leaders, the energy of all team members, and an array of observational and sampling techniques that have proven useful in other studies of tropical faunas:

  • traplines were established for rodents and marsupials. We placed snap traps and live traps in alternation along a 1 km transect, baiting them twice daily:
    • Victor snap traps for rat-sized animals;
    • Museum Special snap-traps for mouse-sized animals (similar to above but smaller; especially constructed so that the trap bar does not crush the skull);
    • Sherman live traps for small mammals;
    • Tomahawk traps for larger mammals;
  • 12-meter mistnets placed in lines and in individual settings for birds and bats
  • lines of 11 pitfall traps (16-liter buckets sunk into the ground) at 5-meter intervals along a 50-meter plastic drift fence
  • two shotguns were used to hunt larger and trap-shy animals point counts of birds (visual and auditory surveys) were taken each morning
  • tracks, scat, calls, or other evidence of a species being present were recorded. 


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