Estimates of abundance are extremely valuable for species conservation, yet determining abundance for elusive, wide-ranging, carnivores is difficult. We estimated density of pumas using remote cameras across study sites in Bolivia, Argentina, and Belize. We used obvious and subtle markings to identify individual pumas in photographs and conducted double-blind identifications to examine the degree of agreement among investigators. Average agreement on identification between pairs of investigators was nearly 80.0% and 3-way agreement was 72.9%. Identification of pumas as different individuals was uncommon (7.8% pairwise, 0.69% 3-way disagreement) with the remainder described as unidentifiable. Densities of pumas varied consistently from site to site regardless of investigator. Bolivian pumas moved the shortest distances between camera stations and Argentinean pumas the longest, but distances among cameras and area covered by surveys varied among sites. We applied a correction factor to the Bolivian data to account for the small area surveyed and found that, averaged across investigator, Bolivia had significantly more pumas per 100 km2 (mean ± SD; 6.80 ± 1.5) than Belize (3.42 ± 1.3) or Argentina (0.67 ± 0.2). Numbers of pumas in Argentina match those of low-density North American sites, and those for Belize are consistent with the Pantanal and high-density North American sites. Densities of pumas can be reliably estimated with remote cameras for these sites, and our work presents the 1st density estimates for Central America and for forested environments in South America.
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