Range-Wide Factors Shaping Space Use and Movements by the Neotropic's Flagship Predator: The Jaguar
34 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2020 Publication Status: Under ReviewMore...
Large terrestrial carnivores are have undergone some of the largest population and range reductions of any species which is of concern as they have disproportionately large effects on ecosystem dynamics and function. The jaguar is the apex predator throughout the majority of the Neotropics, however, its distribution has been reduced by >50% and throughout the majority of its distribution it survives in increasingly isolated populations. Consequently, the range-wide management of the jaguar (Panthera onca) depends upon maintaining core populations connected through multi-national, transboundary cooperation, which is dependent upon understanding the movement ecology and space use of jaguars throughout their range. Using data from 116 jaguars from 13 ecoregions and seven countries, we examined the landscape-level environmental and anthropogenic factors related to jaguar home range size and movement parameters. Range-wide and at the ecoregional scale home range size decreased with increasing net productivity and increased with increasing road density. Also, range-wide, home range size decreased with increasing forest cover and decreasing human population density. Movement within home ranges was best explained by a different set of environmental covariates. Range-wide predictions of home range size were consistent with expectations based upon available density estimates. Using large-scale collaboration and open source data we overcame typical limitations of small sample sizes and limited geographic distribution of large carnivore data to demonstrate the jaguar as a model organism and in doing so provide a mechanism to evaluate range-wide habitat quality for jaguars and an inferential modeling framework adaptable to the conservation of other large terrestrial carnivores.
Keywords: jaguar, Panthera onca, home range, AKDE, Neotropics, carnivore, Felidae, movement ecology
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