Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Eric M. Gese


Eric M. Gese


Frederick F. Knowlton


John A. Bissonette


Frederick D. Provenza


Robert H. Schmidt


The Pantanal wetland of Brazil is an important area for the conservation of jaguars (Panthera onca) and a stronghold for the species. Although our knowledge of jaguar ecology has increased since the first field studies in the mid 1980’s, a detailed study of this cryptic species remains challenging. In the following chapters, we investigated the ecology of jaguars in the southern Pantanal of Brazil. In Chapter II, we examined the foraging ecology of jaguars, documenting predation rates, patterns, and species killed. We found individual jaguars differed in the selection of their prey. There were differences in the proportion of native prey versus cattle killed by individual cats. We found that cattle (31.7%), caiman (24.4%), and peccaries (21.0%) comprised the majority of their kills. The mean predation rate on all prey for all jaguars combined was 5.1 ± 5.0 (SD) days between kills. In Chapter III, we described jaguar habitat use and spatial patterns of predation in relation to vegetation and other landscape attributes. Jaguars used some habitats disproportionatelly to their availability both in the wet and dry seasons. Forest and shrubland habitats were generally selected by jaguars. However, the type of vegetation did not have an influence on the locations of prey killed. Contrary to expectations, jaguars did not select forested habitats nor did they avoid open fields to make kills, but killed prey in these habitats proportionatelly to their availability. Our results do not support earlier findings about jaguar habitat use in the southern Pantanal but illustrate the highly opportunistic nature of jaguars. In Chapter IV, we examined space use, site stability and fidelity, movement rates, and interactions of jaguars. Our results suggested a pattern of spatial avoidance among females during the wet season. Among males, home range overlap was extensive, both in the wet and dry seasons, suggesting males did not retain exclusive ranges. Our study provided insights into the dynamic land tenure system of jaguars. Future research would benefit from radio-collaring a large number of individuals and monitoring them over a longer time span to provide a better understanding of their spatial ecology and social interactions.