Jaguar (Panthera onca), the largest wild cat species
in the western hemisphere, has been extirpated from
over 40% of their historic range (Panthera 2011),
continues to show a decreasing population trend,
and falls in the “Near Threatened” category on the
Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2011).
Working in partnership with Panthera, Inc., we are
undertaking two studies of jaguar as detailed below.
To learn about Panthera’s overall Pantanal Jaguar
Project click here.
Comparative ecology and behavior of Jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Pantanal National Park region of Brazil
Recent proactive conservation efforts for jaguar include the development of a range-wide corridor network (Sanderson et al. 2005; Rabinowitz & Zeller 2010). One of the keys to ensuring connectivity is successful dispersal of young animals. In light of the conservation importance of the developing jaguar corridor network, it is of particular importance to identify source versus sink populations—and the human activities impacting them. Given the declining numbers of wild jaguars and the long-term aim of jaguar conservation efforts, it is important that studies focus on the viability of jaguar populations under alternative management approaches (Quigley & Crawshaw 1992).
This research will be comprised of three main avenues of inquiry: 1) quantification of vital rates of populations in areas of different land use and harvest pressure, and identification of productive versus non-productive; 2) analysis of contemporary and historic dispersal patterns among sub-populations; and 3) a habitat-based population viability analysis (PVA) to evaluate the effect of alternative management strategies on jaguar population persistence. This study will use a combination of non-invasive field surveys, GPS-collared animals (Cagnacci et al. 2010; Tomkiewicz et al. 2010), and genetic techniques to estimate population vital rates and habitat use patterns needed to develop a robust habitat-based PVA. Field work commenced in 2011.
Validation of critical Jaguar (Panthera onca) corridor in eastern Guatemala
Jaguar persist today in 18 countries, from Argentina to Mexico; however, there are serious threats to continued population viability throughout this range due to a breakdown in connectivity among extant subpopulations, especially in the most northerly portion of the species’ range through Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Southeastern Guatemala in particular is thought to support two small Jaguar Conservation Units (JCU’s; Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve and Sierra Santa Cruz JCU; both presumed to have stable jaguar populations), with extremely narrow potential habitat corridors connecting these units to larger and presumably more resilient jaguar populations in northern Guatemala/Mexico/Belize and eastern Honduras. This project seeks to validate use of the critical corridors in this region by jaguars, as well as document the ecological condition of corridors, identify current and likely future threats to these corridors, and provide guidance for maintaining the integrity of migration routes in eastern Guatemala for jaguars.
The goal of this project is to validate both recent use and ecological condition of the potential jaguar corridor in eastern Guatemala. Our specific objectives are to:
1. Document recent use of the corridor by jaguar and their principal prey species through
interviews with local residents, and relate species occurrence to local environmental
2. Validate the interview-based approach with supplemental field-surveys.
This project is commencing in 2012.