In the News

 
Image: Colorado lynx kitten

Lynx kitten in Colorado
Colorado Division of Wildlife

Image: Click here to get Adobe Reader!
Adobe Reader (free)
for viewing PDF icon articles

Here we have provided a few abstracts of recent scientific articles regarding wild felids.

 

Logging and indigenous hunting impacts on persistence of large Neotropical animals.
Roopsind, A. et al. 2017. Biotropica 49: 565-575.

Abstract – Areas allocated for industrial logging and community-owned forests account for over 50% of all remaining tropical forests. Landscape-scale conservation strategies that include these forests are expected to have substantial benefits for biodiversity, especially for large mammals and birds that require extensive habitat but that are susceptible to extirpation due to synergies between logging and hunting. In addition, their responses to logging alone are poorly understood due to their cryptic behavior and low densities. In this study, we assessed the effects of logging and hunting on detection and occupancy rates of large vertebrates in a multiple-use forest on the Guiana Shield. Our study site was certified as being responsibly managed for timber production and indigenous communities are legally guaranteed use-rights to the forest. We coupled camera-trap data for wildlife detection with a spatially explicit dataset on indigenous hunting. A multi-species occupancy model found a weak positive effect of logging on occupancy and detection rates, while hunting had a weak negative effect. Model predictions of species richness were also higher in logged forest sites compared to unlogged forest sites. Density estimates for jaguars and ocelots in our multiple-use area were similar to estimates reported for fully protected areas. Involvement of local communities in forest management, control of forest access, and nesting production forests in a landscape that includes protected areas seemed important for these positive biodiversity outcomes. The maintenance of vertebrate species bodes well for both biodiversity and the humans that depend on multiple-use forests.

 

Forced neighbours: coexistence between jaguars and pumas in a harsh environment.
Astete, S. et al. 2017. Journal of Arid Environments 146: 27-34.

Abstract – Carnivores face conflicts with humans, which has reduced their numbers and distribution. Carnivores compete in intraguild predation systems, Subordinate predators usually avoid top predators through spatial or temporal separation. Coexistence requires a complex combination of resources and environmental conditions. In this study, we assessed the occupancy and temporal activity during night time of the jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) in the Serra da Capivara National Park (SCNP), located in the semi-arid Caatinga biome of Brazil. Felines face biological limitations in hot environments. We used camera-traps, occupancy models and temporal analysis to evaluate their patterns of habitat use, activity and interactions in SCNP between 2009 and 2011. We considered jaguar as dominant predator and puma as subordinate, and expected to find spatial and temporal avoidance between them. We found evidence of spatial and temporal coexistence. This coexistence could be a result of a restriction of niche separation between both species, influenced by the harsh conditions in the Caatinga, represented by a combination of extreme temperatures, scarcity of refuges to thermoregulate, an environment around SCNP with a high level of human disturbance and an apparent increase in prey due conservation policies.

 

Conservation payments in a social context: determinants of tolerance and behavioural intentions towards wild cats in northern Belize.
Harvey, R. G. et al. 2017. Oryx 51: 730-741.

Abstract – Carnivores are valued by conservationists globally but protecting them can impose direct costs on rural, livestock-dependent communities. Financial incentives are increasingly used with the goal of increasing people's tolerance of predators, but the definition of tolerance has been vague and inconsistent. Empirical correlations between attitudinal and behavioural measures of tolerance imply that attitudes may be a valid proxy for behaviours. However, theoretical differences between the concepts suggest that attitudinal tolerance and behavioural intention to kill cats would have different underlying determinants. We surveyed 112 residents within a forest–farm mosaic in northern Belize inhabited by jaguars Panthera onca and four other species of wild cats. A conservation payment programme pays local landowners when camera traps record cat presence on their land. Results indicated that tolerance was associated with gender and participation in the camera-trapping programme, whereas intention to kill cats was associated with cultural group (Mennonites vs Mestizos), presence of children in the home and, to a lesser extent, tolerance. Neither dependent variable was significantly related to depredation losses or economic factors. Results suggest that monetary payments alone are unlikely to affect attitudes and behaviours towards carnivores. Payment programmes may be enhanced by accentuating non-monetary incentives, leveraging social norms and targeting specific groups with information about risks and benefits associated with carnivores. By empirically separating two concepts commonly conflated as ‘tolerance’ we clarify understanding of how social forces interact with financial incentives to shape people's relationships with predators.

 

Creating voluntary payment programs: effective program design and ranchers' willingness to conserve Florida panther habitat.
Kreye, M. M. et al. 2017. Land Economics 93: 459-480.

Abstract – Landowner resistance to Endangered Species Act regulations is a key conservation challenge. In 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that a mix of payments for ecosystem services and regulatory assurances be implemented to encourage cattle ranchers’ participation in Florida panther recovery efforts. To identify cattle ranchers’ preferences for the proposed programs, we implemented a best-worst scaling choice experiment. Our results suggest that voluntary conservation programs are most likely to enroll politically conservative landowners if these programs provide per acre payments or tax reductions, are of shorter duration, and do not require overly intrusive or restrictive levels of monitoring to ensure compliance.

 

Using certified timber extraction to benefit jaguar and ecosystem conservation.
Polisar, J. et al. 2017. Ambio 46: 588-603.

Abstract – The jaguar Panthera onca requires large areas of relatively intact habitats containing adequate amounts of prey to survive. Since a substantial portion of jaguar range occurs outside of strict protected areas, there is a need for economic incentives for habitat conservation, which carefully managed selective logging can provide. Forest Stewardship Council and Pan European Forest Council certifications intended to regulate wood extraction to maintain the ecological functions of forests require evidence of biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. We draw on twelve surveys across four countries and a range of biomes to present evidence that adequate logging management can maintain jaguar populations, but that they are at risk without efficient control of secondary impacts of access and hunting. Where resident, the presence of jaguars can serve as an indication that the ecological requirements of certified timber extraction are being met. We present a gradient of rigor for monitoring, recommending cost-effective options.

 

Modeling landscape connectivity for bobcats using expert-opinion and empirically derived models: how well do they work?
Reed, G. C. et al. 2017. Animal Conservation 20: 308-320.
Abstract – Efforts to retain ecological connectivity have become a conservation priority to permit animal movements within home ranges, allow dispersal between populations and provide opportunities for animals to respond to climate change. We used expert-opinion and empirically derived models to investigate landscape connectivity at two spatial scales among bobcats Lynx rufus in New Hampshire, USA. Paths of marked bobcats were compared to random movements in the context of program CircuitScape. At the local scale (within home ranges), the empirical model (based on observations and telemetry locations) performed better than the expert-opinion model. At the regional scale (state of New Hampshire), both models identified urban development as a potential barrier; however, the models differed in predicting how specific natural features (e.g. mountains and large water bodies) and some roads affected bobcat movements. When compared with bobcat population structure based on genetic information, the expert-opinion model overestimated the influence of roads. Alternatively, the empirical model overestimated the influence of snow. Our findings indicate that the empirically based resistance model was better at describing landscape-scale effects, whereas the expert-opinion model provided a good understanding of gene flow at a regional scale. As such, both models may be considered complementary. Bobcats were sensitive to disruptions imposed by habitat fragmentation and thus may be a suitable focal species for evaluating the consequences of land-use changes on the regional suite of mesocarnivores.