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The Baird's Tapir Project of Costa Rica

Future Research for the Baird's Tapir Project

The current radio telemetry has been collecting data since 1994. There has been a wealth of information collected taking us to the next step in tapir research. This step is continuous monitoring of the different tapir groups as well as expansion of groups being monitored to the highland area. This is a very exciting step in tapir conservation. We will be able to see how the group dynamics work like offspring dispersal and closer monitoring of mating. Along with mating, the Baird's tapir project is working with other scientists to monitor wild tapir fecal hormone levels. This gives insight to exactly when the tapirs are coming into heat and when the tapirs are pregnant.

The benefit of groups monitored in the highlands as well the lowland will allow us to compare and contrast the mating systems. If we have the same mating system in both areas than we truly have a unique phenomenon of ungulate monogamy. This along with genetic test on family groups will unravel the question of "Are tapirs monogamous (only one mate)?"

Current Research

The current project underway is The effect a large herbivore, Tapirus bairdii, has on the diversity of the rainforest. We are putting up exclosures that exclude just tapirs as well as exclosure that exclude all large vertebrate herbivores and a control with no fencing. We will then measure the diversity of plants as well as invertebrates in all three exclosures. We expect that there will be greater diversity when the ecosystem is intact with the tapirs included.

This research outlined above will help us make better decisions on the husbandry of captive tapirs as well as the management of the tropical forests. The impact the largest vertebrate herbivore has on the rainforest is consequential to the maintenance of diversity as a whole. The glue that helps hold this diversity together in the new world tropics is the tapir.