Density and population structure of the jaguar (Panthera onca) in a protected area of Los Llanos, Venezuela, from 1 year of camera trap monitoring

Włodzimierz Jędrzejewski, Maria F. Puerto, Joshua F. Goldberg, Mark Hebblewhite, María Abarca, Gertrudis Gamarra, Luis E. Calderón, José F. Romero, Ángel L. Viloria, Rafael Carreño, Hugh S. Robinson, Margarita Lampo, Ernesto O. Boede, Alejandro Biganzoli, Izabela Stachowicz, Grisel Velásquez, Krzysztof Schmidt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Density is crucial for understanding large carnivore ecology and conservation, but estimating it has proven methodologically difficult. We conducted 1 year of camera trapping to estimate jaguar (Panthera onca) density and population structure in the Los Llanos region of Venezuela on the Hato Piñero ranch, where hunting is prohibited and livestock are excluded from half of ranch lands. We identified 42 different jaguars and determined their sex, age class, and reproductive status. We estimated adult jaguar densities with spatial capture-recapture models, using sex/reproductive state and session as covariates. Models without temporal variation received more support than models that allowed variation between sessions. Males, reproductive females, and nonreproductive females differed in their density, baseline detectability, and movement. The best estimate of total adult jaguar population density was 4.44 individuals/100 km2. Based on reproductive female density and mean number of offspring per female, we estimated cub density at 3.23 individuals/100 km2 and an overall density of 7.67 jaguars/100 km2. Estimated jaguar population structure was 21% males, 11% nonreproductive females, 26% reproductive females, and 42% cubs. We conclude that extending the sampling period to 1 year increases the detectability of females and cubs and makes density estimates more robust as compared to the more common short studies. Our results demonstrate that the Venezuelan Llanos represent important jaguar habitat, and further, they emphasize the importance of protected areas and hunting restrictions for carnivore conservation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-19
    Number of pages11
    JournalMammal Research
    Volume62
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

    Keywords

    • Carnivore conservation
    • Felid ecology
    • Hato Piñero
    • Jaguar breeding
    • Population density estimate
    • Spatial capture-recapture

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