Today Gui presented the results of his first DPhil chapter. He used 172 GPS-collared jaguars to develop habitat suitability models across the species' range, accounting both sexes together and separately. Overall, the models suggest that jaguars prefer habitats with higher productivity and proximity to water sources. Simultaneously, they tend to steer clear of regions under substantial anthropogenic pressure, particularly those heavily populated or modified by human activities, as well as areas dominated by livestock farming. When examining sex-specific models, both females and males exhibit very similar habitat selection patterns, aligning closely with the previously described trend. The most evident difference between species was the positive selection of sand soils by females and clay soils by males. This pattern remains unclear but might be associated with inherent behavioral differences. For instance, females might choose sub-optimal habitats to avoid antagonistic encounters with males, thereby protecting their cubs. The suitability surface maps derived from females and males models were highly correlated (Pearson correlation > 0.8) and highlighted the Amazonian Rainforest and the Mayan Forest as the most important habitats for the species. Surprisingly, the models were unable to identify the majority of Pantanal's wetlands as highly suitable, considering their well-known importance for the species. Nonetheless, the validation tests (Boyce index > 0.85) indicate the models were able to produce accurate maps for jaguar habitat use.
(Photo reference: Emiliano E. Ramalho)