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Orang-utan nest surveys: the devil is in the details

Andrew J. Marshalla1 and Erik Meijaarda2 c1

a1 Department of Anthropology and Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California, Davis, USA.

a2 Tropical Forest Initiative, The Nature Conservancy and Orang-utan Conservation Services Program, Jalan Polantas no. 5, Markoni, 76112 Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Abstract

Nest surveys are widely employed to assess the population density of orang-utans (Pongo spp.) and evaluate alternative management scenarios relevant to the protection of these threatened great apes. However, this method is less accurate and prone to much greater error than is generally acknowledged. Here we highlight the limitations of orang-utan nest surveys, discuss the risks of ignoring these limitations, and note conditions under which standard nest survey methods are appropriate.

(Received September 14 2008)

(Reviewed November 13 2008)

(Accepted December 15 2008)

Correspondence:

c1 Tropical Forest Initiative, The Nature Conservancy and Orang-utan Conservation Services Program, Jalan Polantas no. 5, Markoni, 76112 Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. E-mail emeijaard@tnc.org

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