Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 237–253 | Cite as

Mosaics of Exotic Forest Plantations and Native Forests as Habitat of Pumas

  • Marcelo MazzolliEmail author


There is a general lack of information on the impact of forest plantations and the presence of urban settlements on populations of resource-demanding species such as large felids. To partially address this problem, a project study was conducted to find out whether mosaics of forest plantations and native vegetation can function as an adequate habitat for pumas (Puma concolor) in southern Brazil. The study was conducted within a 1255-km2 area, managed for planted stands of Pinus spp. and Eucalyptus spp. Individual identification of pumas was carried out using a combination of track-matching analysis (discriminant analysis) and camera-trapping. Both techniques recorded closely similar numbers of individual pumas, either total (9–10 individuals) or resident (5–6 individuals). A new approach, developed during this study, was used to individualize pumas by their markings around the muzzle. The estimated density varied from 6.2 to 6.9 individuals/100 km2, ranking among the highest across the entire puma range and indicating a potential total population of up to 87 individuals in the study site. In spite of the availability of extensive areas without human disturbance, a radio-tracked female used a core home range that included forest plantations, an urbanized village, and a two-lane paved road with regular vehicular traffic. The high density of pumas and the species’ intensive use of modified landscapes are interpreted here as deriving from conditions rarely found near human settlements: mutual tolerance by pumas and humans and an adequate habitat (regardless of plantations) largely due to the inhibition of invasions and hunting and maintenance of sizable extents of native forest patches. More widely, it suggests the potential of careful management in forestry operations to provide habitat conditions for resource-demanding species such as the puma. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of curbing invasions and hunting, in this case provided by the presence of company employees, for the maintenance of wildlife populations.


Camera-trapping Forestry Habitat fragmentation Live-trapping Radio-tracking Tracks 



I am indebted to Marcella J. Kelly for her invaluable help in improving the manuscript and to Laurence Mackin for spell-check and grammar corrections. In chronological order, the project started with the commitment from the Klabin Paper Company in southern Brazil to support research on its land. Several persons were involved at this stage. Ralf Andreas Berndt gave initial support for the project. Paulo Kikuti and other executive directors, including Raul M. Speltz, approved and supported the project during the course of the study. The Park staff provided help with traps, including Sérgio A. Filipak, Alceu B. Mello, Lauredi J. Mello, Donizete L. Bueno, Anastácio T. de Oliveira, and Eliane F. Leite. GIS maps of the study area were kindly provided by Nilton L. Venturi. Eliane F. Young Blood helped with the company’s library. Assistance in data collection and veterinarian support was provided by Catherine B. Ryan. Many memorable moments were spent on the trail accompanied by my very enthusiastic 3-year old-daughter Kimberly. Part of the analysis in this article was conducted in the United Kingom when I was writing my MSc thesis. The UK Foreign Office and the British Council provided me with a Chevening scholarship, and I am particularly grateful to Ann Lipe and Judith Elliot of the UK British Council. I am also indebted to my then supervisor, Dr. Nigel Dunstone, for helping me with the thesis.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Projeto PumaFlorianópolisBrazil

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