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Data from: Occupancy winners in tropical protected forests: a pantropical analysis

Cite this dataset

Semper-Pascual, Asunción et al. (2023). Data from: Occupancy winners in tropical protected forests: a pantropical analysis [Dataset]. Dryad.


The structure of forest mammal communities appears surprisingly consistent across the continental tropics, presumably due to convergent evolution in similar environments. Whether such consistency extends to mammal occupancy, despite variation in species characteristics and context, remains unclear. Here we ask whether we can predict occupancy patterns and, if so, whether these relationships are consistent across biogeographic regions. Specifically, we assessed how mammal feeding guild, body mass and ecological specialization relate to occupancy in protected forests across the tropics. We used standardized camera-trap data (1,002 camera-trap locations and 2-10 years of data) and a hierarchical Bayesian occupancy model. We found that occupancy varied by regions, and certain species characteristics explained much of this variation. Herbivores consistently had the highest occupancy. However, only in the Neotropics did we detect a significant effect of body mass on occupancy: large mammals had lowest occupancy. Importantly, habitat specialists generally had higher occupancy than generalists, though this was reversed in the Indo-Malayan sites. We conclude that habitat specialization is key for understanding variation in mammal occupancy across regions, and that habitat specialists often benefit more from protected areas, than do generalists. The contrasting examples seen in the Indo-Malayan region likely reflect distinct anthropogenic pressures.



We used data from the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network, a standardized tropical forest camera-trap monitoring system. The TEAM data comprises camera-trap data from protected areas located across three different biogeographic regions (Neotropical, Afrotropical and Indo-Malayan). In each area, camera-traps are deployed at 60-90 locations at a density of 1 camera per 1-2 km2. Each camera-trap is deployed for a minimum of 30 days during the dry season (i.e., months with <100 mm average rainfall or the driest part of the year in the absence of dry season), although cameras may be active for less than 30 days due to damage or failure. 


1. Body mass, defined as average adult body mass, reflects the amount and quality of resources that a species requires to survive, as well as home range size, fecundity or susceptibility to predation.

2. Forest strata represents the foraging stratum: ground-dwelling and arboreal/scansorial species. Ground-dwelling species serve as the reference group and in the model is represented by the intercept.

3. Feeding guild reflects the type of dietary resources needed, but also potential interactions with other species (e.g., competition or predation). We defined carnivores as species feeding on ≥ 80% vertebrates, herbivores species feeding on ≥ 80% plant materials, insectivores species feeding on ≥ 80% insects, and omnivores the rest of species. Herbivores serve as the reference group and in the model and is represented by the intercept.

4. Habitat breadth represents the degree of ecological specialization and is measured as the number of IUCN habitat types occupied by a species.


1. Division index represents forest fragmentation.

2. Human population reflects human disturbances.


The Research Council of Norway, Award: NFR301075