Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 271-283

First online:

Comparative feeding ecology of felids in a neotropical rainforest

  • Louise H. EmmonsAffiliated withDivision of Mammals, Smithsonian Institution

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Diet and habitat use of jaguar, puma, and ocelot, and populations of their mammalian prey, were studied in an undisturbed rainforest in southeastern Peru. Analysis of scats (feces) showed terrestrial mammals to be the chief prey of all three felids, but reptiles and birds were also numerically important in the diets of ocelot and jaguar. Prey diversity is high and the cats evidently take any readily captured vertebrate. For major terrestrial mammal prey of felids, density, biomass, prey/predator ratios, and annual offtake from the study area are estimated. All three cat species seem to hunt by opportunistic encounter of prey. Most mammalian prey species were taken in about the ratios of occurrence, but peccaries were taken by jaguar more often than expected. Most prey of jaguar have a body weight of >1 kg, those of ocelot, ≤1 kg. Jaguar often used waterside habitats, where they captured caiman and river turtles. Puma did not use these habitats or resources, although the puma prey sample was too small for much inference. The possible effects of felids on study area prey populations are discussed. Large and small cats partition prey at the body weight region where prey switches from low to high reproductive rates.