Maribel Recharte

PhD Research Student

Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, Psychology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling.
MSc Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent (2010).
1) Prof Phyllis C. Lee, University of Stirling, Psychology Department.
2) Dr Sarah-Jane Vick, University of Stirling, Psychology Department.
3) Dr Matt Anderson, San Diego Zoo Global, Institute for Conservation Research.
Office: 3B94
Tel: +44 (0) 7944120161
Start Date: 1st April, 2014.


Research Project

Human wildlife coexistence: Top aquatic predators in the Peruvian Amazon 

I explore attitudes and perceptions of local people toward wildlife and assess the costs and benefits associated with living with wildlife, using interviews and focus groups in rural communities inside and outside protected areas in Loreto, Peru. I use registers kept by participating fishermen and park guards to quantify actual loss through net damage caused by giant otters and other animals during fishing. I have also looked at changes in attitudes in children in reserves where conservation education on giant otters has been presented.

Giant otters as a flagship species for tourism

I am interested in how the giant otter and other megafauna are used as a flagship species for tourism, and how this benefits the species themselves and their habitats. I use on-line and in-person interviews with tourists to assess the relative value of the giant otter as a flagship species for tourism, comparing well-developed tour destinations in the south of Peru that use the giant otter in marketing, with less-targeted tourism in the north of Peru, where the giant otter has made a recent dramatic recovery. My dataset also includes measures of ‘willingness to pay’ for tours to see giant otters relative to other species, and similarly for donations for species conservation.      

Habitat occupancy of giant otters

I have developed a new method to rapidly survey giant otters that will enable researchers to determine the occupancy of giant otters at a given site whilst crucially accounting for imperfect detection using indirect signs and occupancy models. I have recently completed two large surveys and have demonstrated the utility of this method, and I am adding further surveys under a project financed by the Los Angeles Zoo and the Rufford Foundation. Previous methods for surveying otters have been prohibitively time-consuming for the Peruvian protected area and forestry and wildlife services (SERNANP and SERFOR), and the management teams have shown great interest in the surveys. I believe these surveys will be widely adopted in Peru in the future.



Recharte, M., Bride, I.G. & Bowler M. 2015. A recovering flagship: giant otters, communities and tourism in northern Peru. Wildlife Research, 41(6), 490-498.

Recharte, M.; Bodmer R.; 2010. The recovery of the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) on the Yavarí river: A success story for CITES. Oryx 44:83-88.

Recharte, M., Bowler, M.& Bodmer, R. 2009. Potential conflict between fishermen and giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) populations by fishermen in response to declining stocks of arowana fish (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) in Northeastern Peru. IUCN Otter Spec. Group Bull. 25(2), 89-93.

Bowler, M., Noriega, J., Recharte, M., Puertas, P.E. & Bodmer, R.E. 2008. Peruvian red uakari monkeys (Cacajao Calvus Ucayalii) in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve - a range extension across a major river barrier. Neotropical Primates 16, 34-37.


Funding acknowledgements

My research has been funded by:

I have been awarded a grant from Rufford Small Grants

I also been awarded two grants from Los Angeles Zoo.

I have had support for my PhD, and logistical support from San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research.

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