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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 18, 2022

Landscape patterns in the occupancy of jaguars (Panthera onca) and their primary prey species in a disturbed region of the Selva Maya in Mexico

  • Diana B. Friedeberg-Gutiérrez ORCID logo , Carlos A. López-González , Nalleli E. Lara-Díaz , Darryl MacKenzie , Alejandro Jesús-de la Cruz , Rugieri Juárez-Lopez and Mircea Hidalgo-Mihart EMAIL logo
From the journal Mammalia


In order to prioritize the conservation and management efforts to protect jaguars (Panthera onca), it is of utmost importance to determine their tolerance in face of human disturbances, habitat modifications and varying degrees of prey availability. We assessed the occupancy probability of jaguars and five of their most common prey species throughout a heterogeneous landscape in the Selva Maya in southern Mexico: armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), coati (Nasua narica), paca (Cuniculus paca), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and collared peccary (Dicotyles tajacu). Additionally, we projected prey and Jaguar occupancies onto a 5993 km2 landscape based on the habitat type in the area. We averaged the best prey models ranked by QAICc and found that white-tailed deer had the highest average occupancy probability of 0.72 ± 0.06 and paca the lowest with 0.14 ± 0.04. The average occupancy probability for jaguars was 0.35 ± 0.07 and the strongest predictor of jaguar occupancy was a positive effect of collared peccary occupancy. These findings support previous studies that show that predator distribution is largely influenced by their prey availability, even in the midst of degraded habitats, and underlies the essential need to incorporate protection plans for prey species in jaguar conservation strategies.

Corresponding author: Mircea Hidalgo-Mihart, División Académica de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, Villahermosa, Mexico, E-mail:


Panthera and DACBiol-UJAT were instrumental in the study design and analysis. The Fundación Pedro y Elena Hernández and the UMAs Nicte Ha and Xim Balam provided logistic support. We thank the owners of El Sinai, El Limonar, Las Piedras, Santa Cecilia and the inhabitants of El Tumbo de la Montana for granting us access to their properties. We thank Robert Wallace for his review, Eugenia Espinosa, Gabriela Camargo, Emiliano Guijosa and Samuel Oporto for their technical support. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

  1. Author contributions: DBFG contributed with study conception and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data and drafting of manuscript. CALG, MHM, DM, and NELD contributed with the study conception and design, analysis and interpretation of data and critical revision. AJC and RJL contributed with acquisition of data.

  2. Research funding: Panthera and DACBiol-UJAT gave financial support for this study.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest regarding this article.

  4. Research ethics: All research complied with the journal’s code of conduct for authors and national laws. No research included using human subjects and all investigations on animals were done non-invasively.


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Received: 2021-08-21
Accepted: 2022-02-22
Published Online: 2022-05-18
Published in Print: 2022-09-27

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