Contributions to Zoology, 86 (2) – 2017Marta Guntiñas; Jorge Lozano; Rodrigo Cisneros; Carlos Narváez; Jorge Armijos: Feeding ecology of the culpeo in southern Ecuador: wild ungulates being the main prey
Methods

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Study area

The study was conducted in the high areas of the Podocarpus National Park (PNP), this being the most important protected area in southern Ecuador (Fig. 1). It is located within the so-called ‘Huancabamba depression’, which is considered a transition zone between the Northern and Southern Andes mountains because their maximum elevations (3800 m.a.s.l) are the lowest in the Andean range. The PNP occupies 145000 ha of this region, in the provinces of Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe (MAE, 2015). The PNP has a humid-subhumid ombrotype and the temperature varies between 2 and 22 °C. The vegetation consists of tropical rainforest at low altitude, followed by different types of Sub-Andean, Andean and High-Andean forest (i.e. cloud forests) at higher altitudes. Between 2600 (m.a.s.l) and the high peaks (3600 m.a.s.l.) a moorland type habitat (known as ‘paramo’) appears, occupying a narrow strip along the ridge in a north-south gradient (Rivera, 2007; MAE, 2015). These paramos are characterised by the abundance of rosette and pad plant species: Bambu and Chusquea are the dominant plant genus, alongside Poly­lepis, Escallonia and Clusia shrub species (see Sierra, 1999). These mountain ecosystems in the PNP are the most humid in Ecuador, with rainfall exceeding 6000 mm/year, low temperatures and strong winds (Richter, 2003; Rivera, 2007).

FIG2

Fig. 1. Location of the study area in Podocarpus National Park (PNP), southern Ecuador. The three main places where the 16 fixed 1-km transects were concentrated are also shown (El Tiro, 4 km; Cajanuma, 8 km and Cerro Toledo, 4 km). Transects are not scaled.