Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 8, 2015

Density and activity patterns of ocelot populations in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador

  • Julia Salvador EMAIL logo and Santiago Espinosa
From the journal Mammalia


Ocelots were historically hunted for their skins but habitat loss is now their most serious threat, causing rapid declines in populations throughout their range. Ocelot abundance has been estimated for various locations across the Neotropics, but we still lack this information from some countries, including Ecuador. Knowing whether ocelot abundance is increasing or decreasing is important to assess the conservation status of this species and the conditions of its habitats in the Ecuadorian Amazon and in the region. To determine whether ocelot abundance and its behavior are affected by human-related activities, camera-trap surveys were carried out in two localities of Yasuní National Park (YNP), one that has experienced hunting, oil extraction, and roads (Maxus Road) and one that is largely unaffected by these activities (Lorocachi). During the survey, 35 and 36 individual ocelots were photographed in Maxus Road and Lorocachi, respectively. Population density estimates were similar for both localities, ranging from 0.31 (SE±6) to 0.85 (SE±17) ocelots/km2 in Maxus Road and 0.35 (SE±6) to 0.93 (SE±18) ocelots/km2 in Lorocachi, when using the MMDM and the ½ MMDM to estimate the effective trapping area, respectively. Ocelots were more active during the night than during the day in both study sites, probably reflecting the activity patterns of their prey. Ocelot densities obtained in YNP are among the highest reported within the Neotropics. Yasuní’s large tracts of suitable habitat can provide the resources necessary to support sufficiently large populations of ocelots and other species, and ensure their long-term survival.

Corresponding author: Julia Salvador, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, PO Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA; and Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador, e-mail:


Funding for this research was provided to SE by the University of Florida (Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Tropical Conservation and Development Program, Amazon Conservation Leadership Initiative), World Wildlife Fund (Russel E. Train Education for Nature Program), and WCS (Research Fellowship Program). We thank the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and Ecuador’s Army (Batallón BS 48 Sangay) for their logistical support. We are deeply grateful to M. Durango for his help in the field. We also thank J. Blake and G. Rivas whose suggestions helped to improve our original manuscript.


Abreu, K.C., R.F. Moro-Rios, J.E. Silva-Pereira, J. Miranda, E.F. Jablonski and F.C. Passos. 2008. Feeding habits of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in Southern Brazil. Mamm. Biol.-Z. Für Säugetierkd. 73: 407–411.10.1016/j.mambio.2007.07.004Search in Google Scholar

Bass, M.S., M. Finer, C.N. Jenkins, H. Kreft, D.F. Cisneros-Heredia, S.F. McCracken, N.C. A. Pitman, P.H. English, K. Swing, G. Villa, A. Di Fiore, C.C. Voigt and T.H. Kunz. 2010. Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. PLoS One 5: e8767.10.1371/journal.pone.0008767Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

Bisbal E.F. 1986. Food habits of some neotropical carnivores in Venezuela (Mammalia, Carnivora). Mammalia 50: 329–339.10.1515/mamm.1986.50.3.329Search in Google Scholar

Blake, J.G., D. Mosquera, B.A. Loiselle, K. Swing, J. Guerra and D. Romo. 2012. Temporal activity patterns of terrestrial mammals in lowland rainforest. Ecotropica 18: 137–146.Search in Google Scholar

Blake, J.G., D. Mosquera and J. Salvador. 2013. Use of mineral licks by mammals and birds in hunted and non-hunted areas of Yasuní National Park, Ecuador. Anim. Conserv. 16: 430–437.10.1111/acv.12012Search in Google Scholar

Bonnot, N., N. Morellet, H. Verheyden, B. Cargnelutti, B. Lourtet, F. Klein and A.J.M. Hewison. 2013. Habitat use under predation risk: hunting, roads and human dwellings influence the spatial behaviour of roe deer. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 59: 185–193.10.1007/s10344-012-0665-8Search in Google Scholar

Crawshaw, P.G. 1995. Comparative ecology of ocelot (Felis pardalis) and jaguar (Panthera onca) in a protected subtropical forest in Brazil and Argentina. Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville.Search in Google Scholar

DeMattia, E.A., L.M. Curran and B.J. Rathcke. 2004. Effects of small rodents and large mammals on neotropical seeds. Ecology 85: 2161–2170.10.1890/03-0254Search in Google Scholar

Di Bitetti, M.S., A. Paviolo and C. De Angelo. 2006. Density, habitat use and activity patterns of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) in the Atlantic Forest of Misiones, Argentina. J. Zool. 270: 153–163.10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00102.xSearch in Google Scholar

Di Bitetti, M.S., A. Paviolo, C.D. De Angelo and Y.E. Di Blanco. 2008. Local and continental correlates of the abundance of a neotropical cat, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). J. Trop. Ecol. 24: 189–200.10.1017/S0266467408004847Search in Google Scholar

Dillon, A. and M.J. Kelly. 2007. Ocelot Leopardus pardalis in Belize: the impact of trap spacing and distance moved on density estimates. Oryx 41: 469–477.10.1017/S0030605307000518Search in Google Scholar

Dillon, A. and M.J. Kelly. 2008. Ocelot home range, overlap and density: comparing radio telemetry with camera trapping. J. Zool. 275: 391–398.10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00452.xSearch in Google Scholar

Emmons, L.H. 1987. Comparative feeding ecology of felids in a neotropical rainforest. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 20: 271–283.10.1007/BF00292180Search in Google Scholar

Emmons, L.H. 1988. A field study of ocelots (Felis pardalis) in Peru. Rev EcolTerre Vie 43: 133–157.10.3406/revec.1988.5418Search in Google Scholar

Espinosa, S. 2012. Road development, bushmeat extraction and jaguar conservation in Yasuní Biosphere Reserve – Ecuador. Ph.D. thesis. University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.Search in Google Scholar

Espinosa, S., L. C. Branch and R. Cueva. 2014. Road development and the geography of hunting by an Amazonian indigenous group: consequences for wildlife conservation. PLoS ONE 9:e114916.10.1371/journal.pone.0114916Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

Espinosa, S., G. Zapata-Ríos and D. Tirira. 2011. Estado de conservación del ocelote (Leopardus pardalis) y yaguarundi (Pumayagouaroundi). In: (D. Tirira, ed.) Libro Rojo de los mamíferos del Ecuador. 2da. edición. Fundación Mamíferos y Conservación, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador y Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador. Quito. p. 267.Search in Google Scholar

Farrell, L.E., J. Roman and M.E. Sunquist. 2000. Dietary separation of sympatric carnivores identified by molecular analysis of scats. Mol. Ecol. 9: 1583–1590.10.1046/j.1365-294x.2000.01037.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

Frankham, R., C.J. Bradshaw and B.W. Brook. 2014. Genetics in conservation management: revised recommendations for the 50/500 rules, Red List criteria and population viability analyses. Biol. Conserv. 170: 56–63.10.1016/j.biocon.2013.12.036Search in Google Scholar

Franklin, I.R. 1980. Evolutionary change in small populations. In: (M. Soule and B. Wilcox, eds.) Conservation biology: an evolutionary-ecological perspective. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. pp.135–149.Search in Google Scholar

Franzen, M. 2006. Evaluating the sustainability of hunting: a comparison of harvest profiles across three Huaorani communities. Environ. Conserv. 33: 36–45.10.1017/S0376892906002712Search in Google Scholar

Frid, A. and L. Dill. 2002. Human-caused disturbance stimuli as a form of predation risk. Conserv. Ecol. 6: 11.10.5751/ES-00404-060111Search in Google Scholar

Gómez, H., R.B. Wallace, G. Ayala and R. Tejada. 2005. Dry season activity periods of some Amazonian mammals. Stud. Neotropical Fauna Environ. 40: 91–95.10.1080/01650520500129638Search in Google Scholar

Goulart, F.V.B., M.E. Graipel, M.A. Tortato, I.R. Ghizoni-Jr., L.G.R. Oliveira-Santos and N.C. Cáceres. 2009. Ecology of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in the Atlantic Forest of Southern Brazil. Neotropical Biol. Conserv. 4: 137–143.10.4013/nbc.2009.43.03Search in Google Scholar

Haines, A.M., J.E. Janecka, M.E. Tewes, L.I. Grassman Jr. and P. Morton. 2006. The importance of private lands for ocelot Leopardus pardalis conservation in the United States. Oryx 40: 90–94.10.1017/S0030605306000044Search in Google Scholar

Jansen, P.A., F. Bongers and L. Hemerik. 2004. Seed mass and mast seeding enhance dispersal by a Neotropical scatter-hoarding rodent. Ecol. Monogr. 74: 569–589.10.1890/03-4042Search in Google Scholar

Karanth, K.U. and J. D. Nichols. 1998. Estimation of tiger densities in India using photographic captures and recaptures. Ecology 79: 2852–2862.10.1890/0012-9658(1998)079[2852:EOTDII]2.0.CO;2Search in Google Scholar

Kolowski, J.M. and A. Alonso. 2010. Density and activity patterns of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) in northern Peru and the impact of oil exploration activities. Biol. Conserv. 143: 917–925.10.1016/j.biocon.2009.12.039Search in Google Scholar

Konecny, M.J. 1989. Movement patterns and food habits of four sympatric carnivore species in Belize, Central America. In: (H.K. Redford and J.F Eisenberg, eds.) Advances in neotropical mammalogy. Sandhill Crane Press, The Netherlands. pp. 197–232.Search in Google Scholar

Lima, S.L. and L.M. Dill. 1990. Behavioral decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Can. J. Zool. 68: 619–640.10.1139/z90-092Search in Google Scholar

Ludlow, M.E. and M.E. Sunquist. 1987. Ecology and behavior of ocelots in Venezuela. Natl. Geogr. Res. 3: 447–461.Search in Google Scholar

Maffei, L. and A. J. Noss. 2008. How small is too small? Camera trap survey areas and density estimates for ocelots in the Bolivian Chaco. Biotropica 40:71–75.10.1111/j.1744-7429.2007.00341.xSearch in Google Scholar

Maffei, L., A.J. Noss, E. Cuéllar and D. I. Rumiz. 2005. Ocelot (Felis pardalis) population densities, activity, and ranging behaviour in the dry forests of eastern Bolivia: data from camera trapping. J. Trop. Ecol. 21: 349–353.10.1017/S0266467405002397Search in Google Scholar

Murray, J.L. and G.L. Gardner. 1997. Leopardus pardalis. Mamm. Species. 548: 1–10.10.2307/3504082Search in Google Scholar

Nowell, K. and P. Jackson. 1996. Wild cats: status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN Gland Available at: [Accessed November 16, 2014].Search in Google Scholar

Otis, D.L., K.P. Burnham, G.C. White and D.R. Anderson. 1978. Statistical inference from capture data on closed animal populations. Wildl. Monogr. 62: 3–135.Search in Google Scholar

Parmenter, R.R., T.L. Yates, D.R. Anderson, K.P. Burnham, J.L. Dunnum, A.B. Franklin, M.T. Friggens, B.C. Lubow, M. Miller, G.S. Olson, C.A. Parmenter, J. Pollard, E. Rexstad, T.M. Shenk, T.R. Stanley and G.C. White. 2003. Small-mammal density estimation: a field comparison of grid-based vs. web-based density estimators. Ecol. Monogr. 73: 1–26.10.1890/0012-9615(2003)073[0001:SMDEAF]2.0.CO;2Search in Google Scholar

Pitman, N.C.A., J.W. Terborgh, M.R. Silman, P. Núñez V, D.A. Neill, C.E. Cerón, W.A. Palacios and M. Aulestia. 2001. Dominance and distribution of tree species in upper Amazonian terra firme forests. Ecology 82: 2101–2117.10.1890/0012-9658(2001)082[2101:DADOTS]2.0.CO;2Search in Google Scholar

Rexstad, E. and K.P. Burnham. 1991. User’s Guide for Interactive Program Capture. Color. Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.Search in Google Scholar

Rival, L.M. 1996. Hijos del sol, padres del jaguar: los huaorani de ayer y hoy. Ediciones Abya-Yala, Quito, Ecuador.Search in Google Scholar

Roemer, G.W., M.E. Gompper and B.V. Valkenburgh. 2009. The ecological role of the mammalian mesocarnivore. BioScience 59: 165–173.10.1525/bio.2009.59.2.9Search in Google Scholar

Silver, S.C., L.E. Ostro, L.K. Marsh, L. Maffei, A.J. Noss, M.J. Kelly, R.B. Wallace, H. Gomez and G. Ayala. 2004. The use of camera traps for estimating jaguar Panthera onca abundance and density using capture/recapture analysis. Oryx 38: 148–154.10.1017/S0030605304000286Search in Google Scholar

Soisalo, M.K. and S. Cavalcanti. 2006. Estimating the density of a jaguar population in the Brazilian Pantanal using camera-traps and capture-recapture sampling in combination with GPS radio-telemetry. Biol. Conserv. 129: 487–496.10.1016/j.biocon.2005.11.023Search in Google Scholar

Sunquist, M. and F. Sunquist. 2002. Wild cats of the world 1 edition. University Of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.10.7208/chicago/9780226518237.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Sunquist, M.E., F. Sunquist and D. Daneke. 1989. Ecological separation in a Venezuelan llanos carnivore community. In: (H.K. Redford and J.F. Eisenberg, eds.) Advances in neotropical mammalogy. Sandhill Crane Press, The Netherlands. pp. 197–232.Search in Google Scholar

Tirira, D. 2007. Guía de campo de los mamíferos del Ecuador. Ediciones Murciélago Blanco. Publicación especial sobre los mamíferos del Ecuador 6. Quito.Search in Google Scholar

Trolle, M. and M. Kéry. 2003. Estimation of ocelot density in the Pantanal using capture-recapture analysis of camera-trapping data. J. Mammal. 84: 607–614.10.1644/1545-1542(2003)084<0607:EOODIT>2.0.CO;2Search in Google Scholar

Trolle, M. and M. Kéry. 2005. Camera-trap study of ocelot and other secretive mammals in the northern Pantanal. Mammalia 69: 409–416.10.1515/mamm.2005.032Search in Google Scholar

Valencia, R., R.B. Foster, G. Villa, J. Svenning, C. Hernández, K. Romoleroux, E. Losos, E. Magård and H. Balslev. 2004. Tree species distributions and local habitat variation in the Amazon: large forest plot in eastern Ecuador. J. Ecol. 92: 214–229.10.1111/j.0022-0477.2004.00876.xSearch in Google Scholar

White, G.C. 1982. Capture-recapture and removal methods for sampling closed populations. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.Search in Google Scholar

Wilson, K.R. and D.R. Anderson. 1985. Evaluation of two density estimators of small mammal population size. J. Mammal. 66: 13–21.10.2307/1380951Search in Google Scholar

Zapata Rios, G., E. Suarez R., V. Utreras B. and J. Vargas. 2006. Evaluation of anthropogenic threats in Yasuni National Park and its implications for wild mammal conservation. Lyonia 10: 47–57.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2014-11-24
Accepted: 2015-6-24
Published Online: 2015-8-8
Published in Print: 2016-7-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

Downloaded on 23.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button