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Jaguar (Panthera onca) density and tenure in a critical biological corridor

Jaguar (Panthera onca) density and tenure in a critical biological corridor
Jaguar (Panthera onca) density and tenure in a critical biological corridor
We estimated jaguar density and tenure, and investigated ranging behavior, using camera traps across the Maya Forest Corridor, a human-influenced landscape in central Belize that forms the only remaining connection for jaguar populations inhabiting two regional forest blocks: the Selva Maya and the Maya Mountain Massif. Jaguars were ubiquitous across the study area. Similar to the neighboring Selva Maya, mean density ranged from 1.5 to 3.1 jaguars per 100 km2, estimated by spatial capture-recapture models. Cameras detected almost twice as many males as females, probably reflecting detection bias, and males ranged more widely than females within the camera grid. Both sexes crossed two major rivers, while highway crossings were rare and male-biased, raising concern that the highway could prevent female movement if traffic increases. Jaguars were more transient where the landscape was fragmented with settlements and agriculture than in contiguous forest. Compared with jaguars in the protected forests of the Maya Mountains, jaguars in central Belize displayed a lower potential for investment in intraspecific communication, indicative of a lower quality landscape; however, we did detect mating behavior and juveniles. Tenure of individuals was shorter than in the protected forests, with a higher turnover rate for males than females. At least three-quarters of reported jaguar deaths caused by people were male jaguars, and the majority was retaliation for livestock predation. Jaguars seem relatively tolerant to the human-influenced landscape of central Belize. However, intensification of game hunting and lethal control of predators would threaten population persistence, while increased highway traffic and clear-cutting riparian forest would severely limit the corridor function. Our results show that the viability of the corridor, and thus the long-term survival of jaguar populations in this region, will depend on appropriate land-use planning, nonlethal control of livestock predators, enforcement of game hunting regulations, and wildlife-friendly features in future road developments.
0022-2372
1622-1637
Foster, R.J.
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Harmsen, B.J.
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Urbina, Y.L.
a3564207-8384-4c32-b2a9-b08b81eba847
Wooldridge, R.L.
a2719a2b-e36a-4fa6-ae66-0355bba56535
Doncaster, Charles
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Quigley, H.
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Figueroa, O.A.
06cfe9c9-2f1f-4b24-9af9-2526168dc6b9
Foster, R.J.
fd240f82-7074-41bd-b7f5-eae29187e652
Harmsen, B.J.
567452b9-837d-43fd-89cb-f0f96d95f7ed
Urbina, Y.L.
a3564207-8384-4c32-b2a9-b08b81eba847
Wooldridge, R.L.
a2719a2b-e36a-4fa6-ae66-0355bba56535
Doncaster, Charles
0eff2f42-fa0a-4e35-b6ac-475ad3482047
Quigley, H.
e9bb7201-a132-4bc9-8046-f9ee0e222e58
Figueroa, O.A.
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Foster, R.J., Harmsen, B.J., Urbina, Y.L., Wooldridge, R.L., Doncaster, Charles, Quigley, H. and Figueroa, O.A. (2020) Jaguar (Panthera onca) density and tenure in a critical biological corridor. Journal of Mammalogy, 20 (10), 1622-1637. (doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyaa134).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We estimated jaguar density and tenure, and investigated ranging behavior, using camera traps across the Maya Forest Corridor, a human-influenced landscape in central Belize that forms the only remaining connection for jaguar populations inhabiting two regional forest blocks: the Selva Maya and the Maya Mountain Massif. Jaguars were ubiquitous across the study area. Similar to the neighboring Selva Maya, mean density ranged from 1.5 to 3.1 jaguars per 100 km2, estimated by spatial capture-recapture models. Cameras detected almost twice as many males as females, probably reflecting detection bias, and males ranged more widely than females within the camera grid. Both sexes crossed two major rivers, while highway crossings were rare and male-biased, raising concern that the highway could prevent female movement if traffic increases. Jaguars were more transient where the landscape was fragmented with settlements and agriculture than in contiguous forest. Compared with jaguars in the protected forests of the Maya Mountains, jaguars in central Belize displayed a lower potential for investment in intraspecific communication, indicative of a lower quality landscape; however, we did detect mating behavior and juveniles. Tenure of individuals was shorter than in the protected forests, with a higher turnover rate for males than females. At least three-quarters of reported jaguar deaths caused by people were male jaguars, and the majority was retaliation for livestock predation. Jaguars seem relatively tolerant to the human-influenced landscape of central Belize. However, intensification of game hunting and lethal control of predators would threaten population persistence, while increased highway traffic and clear-cutting riparian forest would severely limit the corridor function. Our results show that the viability of the corridor, and thus the long-term survival of jaguar populations in this region, will depend on appropriate land-use planning, nonlethal control of livestock predators, enforcement of game hunting regulations, and wildlife-friendly features in future road developments.

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Jaguar (Panthera onca) - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 2 October 2020
Published date: 29 December 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 446223
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/446223
ISSN: 0022-2372
PURE UUID: d8bcc1e3-8f2f-41b1-9aa7-c86ea0ae457a
ORCID for Charles Doncaster: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9406-0693

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Date deposited: 29 Jan 2021 17:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:45

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Contributors

Author: R.J. Foster
Author: B.J. Harmsen
Author: Y.L. Urbina
Author: R.L. Wooldridge
Author: H. Quigley
Author: O.A. Figueroa

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