Mammalian Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 308–312 | Cite as

Diets of three sympatric Neotropical small cats: Food niche overlap and interspecies differences in prey consumption

  • José E. Silva-PereiraEmail author
  • Rodrigo F. Moro-Rios
  • Diego R. Bilski
  • Fernando C. Passos
Original Investigation


Dietary investigations of sympatric felids are means for understanding how closely related species deal with food resources in a potentially competitive scenario. The diets of the oncilla Leopardus tigrinus, the jaguarundi Puma yagouaroundi and the ocelot Leopardus pardalis were studied through the analysis of scats in Araucaria Pine Forest with Natural Grasslands of southern Brazil. Small mammals comprised the bulk of the diets of the three felids, followed by birds and reptiles. The smallest food-niche overlap index was 0.84, indicating that these felids shared an important portion of their food resources. Inter-species differences were detected in the consumption of the most frequent rodent prey; L. tigrinus was the only species that consumed all the most frequent rodent prey differently from the rate expected from their abundances. Although these findings suggest competitive interactions, with the oncilla being the most subordinate species, further experimental investigations are necessary to elucidate more precisely how these syntopic felids coexist. The effects of sample size and its influences on the evaluation of the diets of the felids, especially of the ocelot, are discussed. We compare our data to a previous study in the same area, to account for the possible influences of biased sampling and uneven distribution of food resources on the diet of the ocelot. The opportunistic feeding behavior and the abundance of their primary prey (cricetid rodents) seem to allow these small cats to be resilient despite severe anthropogenic disturbance in the study area. We further suggest guidelines for future studies in the study region, in order to understand the dynamics of mammalian carnivores demography.


Leopardus tigrinus Leopardus pardalis Puma yagouaroundi Food choice Coexistence 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abreu, K.C., Moro-Rios, R.F., Silva-Pereira, J.E., Miranda, J.D.M., Jablonski, E.F., Passos, F.C., 2008. Feeding habits of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in Southern Brazil. Mamm. Biol. 73, 407–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aranda, M., Sanchez-Cordero, V., 1996. Prey spectra of jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) in tropical forests of Mexico. Stud. Neotrop. Fauna Environ. 31, 65–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Azevedo, F.C.C., 2008. Food habits and livestock depredation of sympatric jaguars and pumas in the Iguaçu National Park, South Brazil. Biotropica 40, 494–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bianchi, R.C., Mendes, S.L., 2007. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) predation on primates in Caratinga Biological Station, southeast Brazil. Am. J. Primatol. 69, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonvicino, C.R., Oliveira, J.A., D’Andrea, P.S., 2008. Guia dos roedores do Brasil, com chaves para gêneros baseadas em caracteres externos. OPAS/OMS, Rio de Janeiro.Google Scholar
  6. Byers, C.R., Steinhorst, R.K., Krausman, P.R., 1984. Clarification of a technique for analysis of utilization-availability data. J. Wildl. Manage. 48, 1050–1053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caro, T.M., Stoner, C.J., 2003. The potential for interspecific competition among African carnivores. Biol. Conserv. 110, 67–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carvalho, J.C., Gomes, P., 2004. Feeding resource partitioning among four sympatric carnivores in the Peneda-Gerês National Park (Portugal). J. Zool. 263, 275–283.Google Scholar
  9. Chinchilla, F.A., 1997. La dieta del jaguar (Panthera onca), el puma (Felis concolor) yel manigordo (Felis pardalis) (Carnivora: Felidae) en el Parque Nacional Corcovado, Costa Rica. Rev. Biol. Trop. 45, 1223–1229.Google Scholar
  10. Davies, T.J., Meiri, S., Barraclough, T.G., Gittleman, J.L., 2007. Species co-existence and character divergence across carnivores. Ecol. Lett. 10, 146–152.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Di Bitetti, M.S., De Angelo, C.D., Di Blanco, Y.E., Paviolo, A., 2010. Niche partitioning and species coexistence in a Neotropical felid assemblage. Acta Oecol. 36, 403–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Durant, S., 1998. Competition refuges and coexistence: an example from Serengeti carnivores. J. Anim. Ecol. 67, 370–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Emmons, L.H., 1987. Comparative feeding ecology of felids in a neotropical rainforest. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 20, 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Facure, K.G., Giaretta, A.A., 1996. Food habits of carnivores in a coastal Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. Mammalia 60, 499–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Futuyma, D.J., Moreno, G., 1988. The evolution of ecological specialization. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 19, 207–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Greene, H.W., Jaksic, F.M., 1983. Food-niche relationships among sympatric predators: effects of level of prey identification. Oikos 40, 151–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Griffiths, D., 1975. Prey availability and the food of predators. Ecology 56, 1209–1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hayward, M.W., Henschel, P., O’Brien, J., Hofmeyer, M., Balme, G., Kerley, G.I.H., 2006a. Prey preferences of the leopard (Panthera pardus). J. Zool. 270, 298–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hayward, M.W., Hofmeyer, M., O’Brein, J., Kerley, G.I.H., 2006b. Prey preferences of the cheetah Acinonyx jubatus; morphological limitations or the need to capture rapidly consumable prey before kleptoparasites arrive? J. Zool. 270, 615–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayward, M.W., Kerley, G.I.H., 2005. Prey preferences of the lion (Panthera leo). J. Zool. 267, 309–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hayward, M.W., Kerley, G.I.H., 2008. Prey preferences and dietary overlap amongst Africa’s large predators. S. Afr. J. Wildl. Res. 38, 93–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hayward, M.W., Slotow, R., 2009. Temporal partitioning of activity in large African carnivores: tests of multiple hypotheses. S. Afr. J. Wildl. Res. 39, 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jaksic, F.M., 1989. Opportunism vs selectivity among carnivorous predators that eat mammalian prey: a statistical test of hypotheses. Oikos 56, 427–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kiltie, R.A., 1984. Size rations among sympatric Neotropical cats. Oecologia 61, 411–416.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Konecny, M.J., 1989. Movement patterns and food habits of four sympatric carnivore species in Belize, Central America. Adv. Neotrop. Mammal., 243–264.Google Scholar
  26. Krebs, C.J., 1999. Ecological Methodology. Addison Wesley Education Publishers, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Linnell, J.D.C., Strand, O., 2000. Interference interactions, co-existence and conservation of mammalian carnivores. Divers. Distrib. 6, 169–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ludlow, M.E., Sunquist, M.E., 1989. Ecology and behaviour of ocelots in Venezuela. Nat. Geogr. Res. 3, 447–461.Google Scholar
  29. Maack, R., 1981. Geografia Física do Estado do Paraná. Secretaria da Cultura e do Esporte do Governo do Estado do Paraná, Curitiba.Google Scholar
  30. Manzani, P.R., Monteiro-Filho, E.L.A., 1989. Notes on the food habits of the jaguarundi. Felis yagouaroundi (Mammalia: Carnivora). Mammalia 53, 659–660.Google Scholar
  31. Moreno, R.S., Kays, R.W., Samudio Jr., R., 2006. Competitive release in diets of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and puma (Puma concolor) after jaguar (Panthera onca) decline. J. Mammal. 87, 808–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Novack, A.J., Main, M.B., Sunquist, M.E., Labisky, R.F., 2005. Foraging ecology of jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) in hunted and non-hunted sites within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala. J. Zool. 267, 167–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pianka, E.R., 1994. Evolutionary Ecology. HarperCollins College Publishers, New York.Google Scholar
  34. Pierce, B.M., Bleich, V.C., Bowyer, T., 2000. Selection of mule deer by mountain lions and coyotes: effects of hunting style, body size, and reproductive status. J. Mammal. 81, 462–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Quadros, J., Monteiro-Filho, E.L.A., 2006. Coleta e preparação de pêlos de mamíferos para identificação em microscopia óptica. Rev. Bras. Zool. 23, 274–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ray, J.C., Sunquist, M.E., 2001. Trophic relations in a community of African rainforest carnivores. Oecologia 127, 395–408.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Reis, N.R., Peracchi, A.L., Pedro, W.A., Lima, I.P., 2006. Mamíferos do Brasil. Universidade Estadual de Londrina.Google Scholar
  38. Rosenzweig, M.L., 1966. Community structure in sympatric Carnivora. J. Mammal. 47, 602–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scognamillo, D., Maxit, I., Sunquist, M.E., Polisar, J., 2003. Coexistence of jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) in a mosaic landscape in the Venezuelan llanos. J. Zool. 259, 269–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. SEMA, 2004. Plano de Manejo da Área de Proteção Ambiental da Escarpa Devoniana. SEMA and IAP, Curitiba.Google Scholar
  41. Solari, S., Rodrigues, J.J., 1997. Assessment and monitoring mammals: small and nonvolant mammals. In: Dallmeier, F., Alonso, A. (Eds.), Biodiversity Assessment and Long-term Monitoring, Lower Urubamba Region. Smithsonian Institution Monitoring Assessment of Biodiversity Program, Washington, DC, pp. 281–290.Google Scholar
  42. Sunquist, M.E., Sunquist, F., 2002. Wild Cats of the World. University of Chicago, Press, Ltd., London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Umetsu, F., Naxara, L., Pardini, R., 2006. Evaluating the efficiency of pitfall traps for sampling small mammals in the neotropics. J. Mammal. 87, 757–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Villa-Meza, A., Meyer, E.M., Lopes-Gonzáles, C.A., 2002. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) food habits in a tropical deciduous forest of Jalisco, Mexico. Am. Midl. Nat. 148, 146–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wang, E., 2002. Diets of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), margays (L. wiedii), and oncillas (L. tigrinus) in the Atlantic Rainforest in Southeast Brazil. Stud. Neotrop. Fauna Environ. 37, 207–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • José E. Silva-Pereira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rodrigo F. Moro-Rios
    • 1
  • Diego R. Bilski
    • 2
  • Fernando C. Passos
    • 3
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e ConservaçãoUniversidade Federal do ParanáParanáBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal do ParanáParanáBrazil

Personalised recommendations