Jaguar spacing, activity and habitat use in a seasonally flooded environment in Brazil

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Abstract

Between July 1980 and February 1984, six jaguars (two males, four females) were fitted with radio-collars and monitored for a cumulative total of 105 months, in the Pantanal region of southwestern Brazil. Mean home range size (minimum convex polygon) for five of them (one male, four females) was 142- 1 km2. Mean home range size during the dry season was 54·3 km2, whereas in the wet season it was significantly smaller, 12·8 km2. Mean home range overlap of the four females was 42%. Use of gallery forest and forest patches exceeded the availability of these habitat types in the animals' home ranges, whereas open forest and grassland were used less than expected on the basis of their availability. Mean distance moved between locations on consecutive days was 2·4 km (0.2-10·4 km). The mean one-day movement of the male jaguar was significantly (P<0·001) larger than that of the females. Mean distance travelled by all animals during one-day intervals in the dry season was significantly greater (P<0·001) than that travelled in other months. Jaguars were more active during daytime than night-time (P<0·001). Overall level of activity for the wet season did not differ from that of the dry season. With their larger body size, jaguars in the Pantanal may require more food than jaguars in other areas of the species' range. This, in addition to differences in prey availability and the annual availability of dry land, appear to influence the difference in home range size between jaguar populations.

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