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Occupancy models reveal potential of conservation prioritization for Central American jaguars

Occupancy models reveal potential of conservation prioritization for Central American jaguars
Occupancy models reveal potential of conservation prioritization for Central American jaguars

Understanding species-environment relationships at large spatial scales is required for the prioritization of conservation areas and the preservation of landscape connectivity for large carnivores. This endeavour is challenging for jaguars (Panthera onca), given their elusiveness, and the local nature of most jaguar studies, precluding extrapolation to larger areas. We developed an occupancy model using occurrence data of jaguars across five countries of Central America, collected from camera-trap studies of 2–12 months' duration, deployed over an area of 14 112 km 2 from 2005 to 2018. Our occupancy model showed that habitat use of jaguars increased with primary net productivity and distance to human settlements, and distance to rivers. Detection of the species was related to survey effort and research team identity. Within the jaguar extent of occurrence, 73% was deemed suitable for the species, with 47% of it lying within Jaguar Conservation Units (JCU) and 59% of JCU land being legally protected. Suitable areas were divided into four distinct clusters of continuous habitat shared across country borders. However, large areas of predicted low habitat suitability may constrict connectivity in the region. The reliability of these spatial predictions is indicated by the model validation using an independent dataset (AUC = 0.82; sensitivity = 0.766, specificity = 0.761), and concordance of our results with other studies conducted in the region. Across Central America, we found that human influence has the strongest impact on jaguar habitat use and JCUs are the main reservoirs of habitat. Therefore, conservation actions must focus on preventing habitat loss and mitigating human pressure, particularly within the clusters of continuous areas of high suitability, and on restoring habitat to foster connectivity. The long-term persistence of jaguars in the region will depend on strong international cooperation that secures jaguar populations and their habitat across Central American borders.

camera-traps, carnivore conservation, habitat suitability, human influence, jaguar conservation units, large carnivores, occupancy models, species distribution models
1367-9430
680-691
Calderon, A. P.
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Louvrier, J.
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Planillo, A.
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Araya-Gamboa, D.
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Arroyo-Arce, S.
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Barrantes-Nunez, M.
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Carazo-Salazar, J.
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Corrales-Gutierrez, D.
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Doncaster, C. P.
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Foster, R.
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Garcia, M. J.
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Garcia-Anleu, R.
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Harmsen, Bart J.
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Hernandez-Potosme, S.
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Leonardo, R.
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Trigueros, D. M.
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McNab, R.
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Meyer, N.
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Moreno, R.
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Salom-Perez, R.
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Sauma Rossi, A.
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Thomson, I
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Thornton, D.
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Urbina, Y.
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Grimm, V
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Kramer-Schadt, S.
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Calderon, A. P.
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Louvrier, J.
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Planillo, A.
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Araya-Gamboa, D.
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Arroyo-Arce, S.
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Barrantes-Nunez, M.
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Carazo-Salazar, J.
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Corrales-Gutierrez, D.
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Doncaster, C. P.
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Foster, R.
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Garcia, M. J.
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Garcia-Anleu, R.
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Harmsen, Bart J.
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Hernandez-Potosme, S.
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Leonardo, R.
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Trigueros, D. M.
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McNab, R.
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Meyer, N.
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Moreno, R.
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Salom-Perez, R.
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Sauma Rossi, A.
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Thomson, I
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Thornton, D.
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Urbina, Y.
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Grimm, V
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Kramer-Schadt, S.
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Calderon, A. P., Louvrier, J., Planillo, A., Araya-Gamboa, D., Arroyo-Arce, S., Barrantes-Nunez, M., Carazo-Salazar, J., Corrales-Gutierrez, D., Doncaster, C. P., Foster, R., Garcia, M. J., Garcia-Anleu, R., Harmsen, Bart J., Hernandez-Potosme, S., Leonardo, R., Trigueros, D. M., McNab, R., Meyer, N., Moreno, R., Salom-Perez, R., Sauma Rossi, A., Thomson, I, Thornton, D., Urbina, Y., Grimm, V and Kramer-Schadt, S. (2022) Occupancy models reveal potential of conservation prioritization for Central American jaguars. Animal Conservation, 25 (5), 680-691. (doi:10.1111/acv.12772).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Understanding species-environment relationships at large spatial scales is required for the prioritization of conservation areas and the preservation of landscape connectivity for large carnivores. This endeavour is challenging for jaguars (Panthera onca), given their elusiveness, and the local nature of most jaguar studies, precluding extrapolation to larger areas. We developed an occupancy model using occurrence data of jaguars across five countries of Central America, collected from camera-trap studies of 2–12 months' duration, deployed over an area of 14 112 km 2 from 2005 to 2018. Our occupancy model showed that habitat use of jaguars increased with primary net productivity and distance to human settlements, and distance to rivers. Detection of the species was related to survey effort and research team identity. Within the jaguar extent of occurrence, 73% was deemed suitable for the species, with 47% of it lying within Jaguar Conservation Units (JCU) and 59% of JCU land being legally protected. Suitable areas were divided into four distinct clusters of continuous habitat shared across country borders. However, large areas of predicted low habitat suitability may constrict connectivity in the region. The reliability of these spatial predictions is indicated by the model validation using an independent dataset (AUC = 0.82; sensitivity = 0.766, specificity = 0.761), and concordance of our results with other studies conducted in the region. Across Central America, we found that human influence has the strongest impact on jaguar habitat use and JCUs are the main reservoirs of habitat. Therefore, conservation actions must focus on preventing habitat loss and mitigating human pressure, particularly within the clusters of continuous areas of high suitability, and on restoring habitat to foster connectivity. The long-term persistence of jaguars in the region will depend on strong international cooperation that secures jaguar populations and their habitat across Central American borders.

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Accepted/In Press date: 31 January 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 March 2022
Published date: October 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: The authors thank Emma Sanchez, Omar Figueroa, Rey Cal and Said Gutierrez for their help in the field; Moritz Wenzler‐Meya and Nathaniel Robinson in accessing and managing spatial data; Ilja Heckmann in database management; Viktoriia Radchuk in data analysis, and Franklin Castañeda for helpful insights. The authors are grateful for the support provided by the UK Darwin Initiative (17–012), SENACYT (Proyecto‐FID‐14‐145), USAID (Cooperativa‐Agreement‐No.LAG‐A‐00‐99‐00047‐00), Panthera, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, Rainforest Alliance, Pecorino Ristorante, CONAP, IDAEH, FUNDAECO, CECON‐USAC, DIGI‐USAC 2014–2016–2017 (No.4.8.63.3.57/4.8.63.4.04–4.8.63.2.03), World Tapir Conservation Programme‐TSG/SSC/IUCN, Fondation Segré, Tikal National Park, Summerlee Foundation, Belize Audubon Society, Fundación Yaguará, Gemas/Fondo Darién, Fundación Natura, Ministry of Environment of Panama, Rufford Foundation, CEASPA, AAMVECONA, TEAM, Conservation International, Smithsonian Institution, WCS, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, SNIMB, HHMI, IdeaWild, Área de Conservación Tortuguero‐ACTo‐SINAC, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Barbilla‐Desitierro Biological Subcorridor, San Juan‐La Selva Biological Corridor, La Selva‐OTS, Hacienda Sueño Azul, Costa Rican Electricity Institute, Global Vision International, Minera Panamá S.A., MWH, Private Reserves, and to all ranges, researchers and communities who made this study possible. To Diana Troya for her help with the graphical abstract. APC is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (Program‐57381412). APC, VG and SKS are associated with the BioMove research training group DFG‐GRK 2118/1. Funding Information: The authors thank Emma Sanchez, Omar Figueroa, Rey Cal and Said Gutierrez for their help in the field; Moritz Wenzler-Meya and Nathaniel Robinson in accessing and managing spatial data; Ilja Heckmann in database management; Viktoriia Radchuk in data analysis, and Franklin Castañeda for helpful insights. The authors are grateful for the support provided by the UK Darwin Initiative (17–012), SENACYT (Proyecto-FID-14-145), USAID (Cooperativa-Agreement-No.LAG-A-00-99-00047-00), Panthera, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, Rainforest Alliance, Pecorino Ristorante, CONAP, IDAEH, FUNDAECO, CECON-USAC, DIGI-USAC 2014–2016–2017 (No.4.8.63.3.57/4.8.63.4.04–4.8.63.2.03), World Tapir Conservation Programme-TSG/SSC/IUCN, Fondation Segré, Tikal National Park, Summerlee Foundation, Belize Audubon Society, Fundación Yaguará, Gemas/Fondo Darién, Fundación Natura, Ministry of Environment of Panama, Rufford Foundation, CEASPA, AAMVECONA, TEAM, Conservation International, Smithsonian Institution, WCS, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, SNIMB, HHMI, IdeaWild, Área de Conservación Tortuguero-ACTo-SINAC, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Barbilla-Desitierro Biological Subcorridor, San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor, La Selva-OTS, Hacienda Sueño Azul, Costa Rican Electricity Institute, Global Vision International, Minera Panamá S.A., MWH, Private Reserves, and to all ranges, researchers and communities who made this study possible. To Diana Troya for her help with the graphical abstract. APC is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (Program-57381412). APC, VG and SKS are associated with the BioMove research training group DFG-GRK 2118/1. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Animal Conservation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Zoological Society of London.
Keywords: camera-traps, carnivore conservation, habitat suitability, human influence, jaguar conservation units, large carnivores, occupancy models, species distribution models

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 456868
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/456868
ISSN: 1367-9430
PURE UUID: bc606248-a79b-435a-bc18-9ced9ba2d029
ORCID for C. P. Doncaster: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9406-0693

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Date deposited: 13 May 2022 16:40
Last modified: 24 Jan 2023 02:34

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Contributors

Author: A. P. Calderon
Author: J. Louvrier
Author: A. Planillo
Author: D. Araya-Gamboa
Author: S. Arroyo-Arce
Author: M. Barrantes-Nunez
Author: J. Carazo-Salazar
Author: D. Corrales-Gutierrez
Author: C. P. Doncaster ORCID iD
Author: R. Foster
Author: M. J. Garcia
Author: R. Garcia-Anleu
Author: Bart J. Harmsen
Author: S. Hernandez-Potosme
Author: R. Leonardo
Author: D. M. Trigueros
Author: R. McNab
Author: N. Meyer
Author: R. Moreno
Author: R. Salom-Perez
Author: A. Sauma Rossi
Author: I Thomson
Author: D. Thornton
Author: Y. Urbina
Author: V Grimm
Author: S. Kramer-Schadt

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