International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

News From The Field: Coexistence in a Neotropical Felid Assemblage

Wild cats can’t be saved without knowing what they need to survive in their natural habitat. What kind of habitat do they use? What are their activity patterns & social organizations? Without data collected by field biologists, conservation programs can’t be put in place. To further our educational efforts, we are posting regular Monday summaries of a paper written by wild cat field biologists, which briefly outlines their findings.

Carnivores have been used as a model to understand the effects of competition in community structure, but behavioural mechanisms that facilitate species coexistence have been poorly explored. We use the results of large-scale and intensive camera-trap surveys conducted in the Atlantic Forest of NE Argentina between 2003 and 2008 to describe the spatial patterns of detection and the daily pattern of records of the six wild cat species present in the region: jaguar Panthera onca, puma Puma concolor, ocelot Leopardus pardalis, jaguarundi Puma yagouaroundi, margay Leopardus wiedii and oncilla Leopardus tigrinus.

The larger species were more frequently recorded in the better-protected areas, probably as a result of anthropogenic effects (poaching of cats and their prey). Competition from ocelots and jaguarundis may explain why the oncilla and the margay showed the opposite pattern. Morphologically similar species had the most contrasting activity patterns: the margay was exclusively nocturnal and the jaguarundi diurnal. The other species alternated their peaks of activity in relation to the relative order of their body weights. The contrasting patterns observed and the ability of pumas and oncillas to adjust their activity patterns to local conditions may facilitate the coexistence of these cat species and explain the lack of character displacement in this assemblage.

M.S. Di Bitetti, C.D De Angelo, Y.E. Diu Blanco, A Paviolo

2010, Acta Oecologica 36: 403-412


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