Coiba Terrestrial Mammal Project

Jaguar on camera

Why terrestrial mammals?

  • Their roles as predators, prey, and scavengers are important to sustaining a healthy ecosystem

  • Some are indicators of ecosystem health and biodiversity because they prefer intact native habitat

  • They are important to the culture of local peoples and ecotourism

  • Their populations are poorly understood and could be threatened by climate change effects

El Cope landscape

Why Coiba National Park?

Coiba National Park is comprised of 39 islands located off the southern coast of Panama. These islands are a global hotspot of tropical biodiversity, and have largely been preserved through designation as a marine conservation area. These islands are home to several native terrestrial mammals, including some species only found in Coiba. However, very little is known about these species, especially what primary roles they have in sustaining a healthy ecosystem and biodiversity, and how predicted effects of climate change, including rising ocean level and temperatures, could influence the viability of their populations.

Map - El Cope in center of Panama

Our team is conducting this project to understand the distribution and diversity of terrestrial mammals in Coiba National Park. Our study is specifically focusing on the Coiban agouti (Dasyprocta coibae) because this species is important to sustaining the forest of Coiba. In future years, we plan to use these data to study agoutis in more detail to understand their behaviors and specific roles in the ecosystem, and how climate change may impact those roles.

What is this project accomplishing?

  • Using remote motion-detecting cameras to determine the distribution and diversity of terrestrial mammals in Coiba National Park

  • Understanding what landscape characteristics, such as topography and vegetation type, influence where terrestrial mammals occur in Coiba National Park

  • Increasing the knowledge the Panama Ministry of Environment has for conserving biodiversity in Coiba National Park

  • Enhancing ecological knowledge of terrestrial mammals in Panama, especially species only found in Coiba

  • Employing and educating local Panamanian citizens to assist with research

  • Building partnerships among the Panama Ministry of Environment and several non-profit organizations

Partners - Contacts

Institute for Wildlife Studies ( – Jared Duquette (Research Ecologist)

Panama Wildlife Conservation ( – Luis Ureña (President)

Yaguará-Panama ( – Ricardo Moreno (Research Biologist)

Video (overview of Coiba National Park; a project video is in progress)



Species remotely photographed

Coiban agouti (Dasyprocta coibae)
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus rothschildi)
Common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis)
Brown-backed dove (Leptotila battyi)
Common spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis)
White-faced capuchin (Cebus capucinus)
Grey-necked wood rail (Aramides cajanea)
Screech owl (Megascops sp.)