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How do jaguars move through the landscape? Integrated step selection and movement analyses applied to jaguar ecology and conservation

Grant number: 18/24891-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2019
Effective date (End): September 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Paulo Inácio de Knegt López de Prado
Grantee:Alan Eduardo de Barros
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Movements are a fundamental behaviour of most animal species which allow them to search and find locations for better survival and reproduction. Understanding animal movements is of great value for understanding ecology and behaviour, for evaluating the impact of human disturbances, environmental changes, conservation planning and management. Carnivores are often required to displace long distances searching for prey and their movements are particularly susceptible to human activities footprints and can be reduced by a third when the impacts are high. Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the largest predator in the neotropics with daily movements which may go beyond 30 Km of distance and home ranges going up to 2143 km2. Hence, habitat fragmentation and degradation, direct and indirect conflict with humans, such as poaching and depletion of prey, poses a threat to the species which currently occupy only 46% to 51% of its original range and is officially classified by IUCN as near threatened (although Jaguars may be considered critically endangered in regions such as Atlantic Forest and Caatinga). In the first chapter we will focus on questions targeting how habitat and landscape quality, as well as human structures and impacts affects jaguar movements, aiming to identify environmental and anthropic variables that influenced Jaguars' movements across the landscape and how these variables affect different category of individuals. In the second chapter we will search for indications of an optimal behaviour leading to the use of potential profitable places, evaluating as well the relation with environmental and anthropic covariates, home range, availability of prey and conspecific densities and seeking to understand how this behaviour relates to different category of individuals. We are going to do that by exploring integrated Step Selection Functions/Analysis (iSSFs, aka iSSAs) and behavioural changes (more specifically, Residence Time RT) of Jaguars' movements, using a dataset of 117 individuals from 22 project sites distributed in 5 different countries of the species range. We expect to get further understanding regarding which variables (environmental, anthropic, regional prey, etc) stand higher importance determining jaguar movement trajectories, habitat use and residence time, as well as potential patterns possibly related with categories (sex, age, biomass, residency status) and location; and knowledge of possible implications of these factors on individuals' abilities to fix residency. We believe our findings will contribute to answer some of the current research gaps on Jaguars´ ecology, providing as well useful information for future research and conservation strategies. (AU)