Coexistence of jaguars (Panthera onca) and pumas (Puma concolor) in a tropical forest in south–eastern Mexico

Ávila–Nájera, D. M., Chávez, C., Pérez–Elizalde, S., Palacios–Pérez, J. and Tigar, Barbara orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6037-3544 (2020) Coexistence of jaguars (Panthera onca) and pumas (Puma concolor) in a tropical forest in south–eastern Mexico. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 43 (1). pp. 55-66. ISSN 1578-665X

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The biological ranges of the jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) overlap in the Yucatan Peninsula, corresponding to the most important population of jaguars in Mexico. The goal of this study in the El Eden Ecological Reserve (EER) was to investigate the factors that permit these two predators to coexist in the dense vegetation of medium–stature tropical forest and secondary forest in the north–eastern Yucatan Peninsula. We assessed their spatial and temporal overlap using Pianka’s index, and evaluated their habitat use by applying occupancy models. A total sampling effort of 7,159 trap–nights over 4 years produced 142 independent photographic records of jaguars, and 134 of pumas. The felids showed high to very high overlap in their use of different vegetation (0.68–0.99) and trail types (0.63–0.97) and in their activity patterns (0.81–0.90). However, their peak activity patterns showed some temporal separation. Time of day, particularly for peak activity time, was the best predictor to explain the coexistence of the felids in this habitat. While occupancy models showed that the presence of potential prey species and vegetation type could predict the presence of felids in the study area. Natural disturbances during 2010 (hurricane) and 2011 (fire) drastically changed habitat use and activity patterns, resulting in pumas and jaguars adjusting their resource–use and activity pattern through a strategy of mutual evasion.

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