Insights of the Movements of the Jaguar in the Tropical Forests of Southern Mexico

  • J. Antonio de la TorreEmail author
  • Marina Rivero


Movement is a critical animal behavior which reflects animal response to its current biological needs and to its environment. Comprehending how and why the animals use the available space and the underlying drivers of animal movements is essential to the management and conservation for both species and ecosystems. This chapter aims to understand and describe the movements of the largest felid of the Neotropics, the jaguar (Panthera onca), through different approaches with the purpose to contribute to the existing knowledge of the spatial ecology of this species and to design strong conservation actions for the jaguar in the tropical forest of Central America. We described the movement ecology of jaguars in tropical forests using the information of five individuals fitted with satellite GPS collars in the Greater Lacandona Ecosystem, Chiapas, Mexico. We estimate the home range of jaguars through the autocorrelated kernel density estimation and compare it with different studies implemented throughout the species range. Using the movement-based kernel approach analyzed under the biased random bridge model, we identify the areas that were intensively used and repeatedly visited by the jaguars inside their home range. The biased random bridge allowed having a more dynamic and realistic approach to describe the space use and habitat selection by jaguars which complement the information about the movements of the species for the region. Finally, we evaluate the movement decisions of jaguars by the step selection function to identify which landscape variables influence the movement behavior of the species in the Greater Lacandona Ecosystem. The development of new movement models and analytical tools have allowed to make more precise inferences regarding the space use and movements of secretive tropical species such as the jaguar which should translate in better conservation strategies to ensure their long-term conservation.


GPS Lacandona Forest Movement Panthera onca Tropical rainforest 



This work was supported by The Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, Conservation Leadership Programme, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Zoological Society, Commission of Natural Protected Areas of the Mexican Federal Government (CONANP), the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor-Mexico, and the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACyT). J. A. de la Torre acknowledges the scholarship and financial support provided by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) and UNAM during the implementation of this research. We thank Dr. Rodrigo Medellín for his invaluable support to develop the research. We appreciate the assistance of our field assistants from Lacanja Chansayab (Luisito, Gregorio, Paco, and Rodrigo) and Frontera Corozal (Silvano, Chano, Celestino, Bernabe, Wicho, Arnoldo, and Florencio) communities for their helpful and hard work. We are very grateful to the Commission of Natural Protected Areas of the Mexican Federal Government (CONANP), especially with S. Nañez and V. Silvano for supporting this research. We appreciate the invaluable support of Wildlife Service and their team of veterinarians, especially Ivonne Cassaigne, Susana Ilescas, Octavio Lopez, Dane Hawk, and Dave Kenny. We also thank Cuauhtémoc Chávez, Heliot Zarza, José Gonzalez Maya, Rurik List, Rodrigo Sierra, Eduardo Ponce, Gerardo Ceballos, Enrique Martinez-Meyer, David Valenzuela, Jorge Servin, Jaime Zuñiga, Omar Figueroa, Brian Jansen, Ron Thomson, and Valeria Towns for their helpful suggestions in the development of this study. We thank Ana Ibarra, Alma Moreno, and Luis Viquez for technical support. We would also like to thank to Cecilia Vargas, Aseneth Ureña, and Nora Torres for their helpful assistance during field work. Throughout the analysis, we had the assistance of the Centro de Investigación en Geografía y Geomática “Ing. Jorge L. Tamayo” A.C. We thank the logistical support of Bioconciencia A.C. and Natura Mexicana A.C. Permission to conduct the field captures was granted by the General Office of Wildlife-SEMARNAT Mexico and facilitated by Fernando Sánchez.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ecología, UNAM, Laboratorio de Ecología y Conservación de Vertebrados TerrestresCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  2. 2.Bioconciencia A.C.Ciudad de MéxicoMexico
  3. 3.El Colegio de la Frontera SurCampecheMexico

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