Navigation Links
First jaguar photo taken at Smithsonian Research Station in Panama

Barro Colorado Island in Panama, home of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's premier tropical biology field station, has been described as the best-studied piece of tropical real estate in the western hemisphere. Although the island has been a mecca for biologists for nearly 90 years, no one has ever photographed an elusive island visitor, the jaguaruntil now.

Montclair State University zoologist Jackie Willis and her husband Greg mount cameras with infrared sensors on trees to photograph passing animals as part of their annual mammal census of the island, which they have been conducting since 1982. What the cameras captured April 20 was not only a surprise, but a firstan adult jaguar tripped the camera's sensor at 3:07 a.m., thus creating a self-portrait photograph.

"Our photo of a jaguar on Barro Colorado is a sign of hope," said Jackie Willis. "It proves jaguars are still in this area." Greg Willis spotted a jaguar on the island in 1983, but there have been very few sightings on Barro Colorado since.

The jaguar, a solitary carnivore, is the largest cat in the Americas. Adult males can weigh more than 300 pounds. Strong swimmers, jaguars tend to live near water and often prefer rainforests and seasonally flooded swamp areas. Historically, they ranged from the southern United States to northern Argentina. Habitat loss due to agriculture and urban sprawl has been a major threat to the species; and regardless of legal protection, people often shoot jaguars on sight, especially in areas with cattle ranches.

Researchers believe that this jaguar is a visitor from the mainland, 200 yards from the island at the closest point. Barro Colorado Island in Gatun Lakepart of the Panama Canalis only 25 miles from Panama City on the Pacific end of the canal and the city of Colon on the Atlantic end. Most of Panama's more than 3 million people live in these two cities. Two of the world's great biological hotspots meet in this area, which continues to act as a vital biological corridor between North and South America, despite pressure as urban areas expand.

"Jaguars need remarkably large expanses of habitat to survive and Barro Colorado is too small to support even one animal. But the presence of even the odd individual that swims out there means that jaguars are still moving through the Canal area between patches of fragmented forest," said William Laurance, staff scientist at the Institute.

The Willis' began using camera traps in 1994 as a tool to record elusive and nocturnal species. This proved exceptionally helpful in gathering data about species that were poorly represented in their past censuses of the island. A jaguar monitoring program involving Panama's environment authority (ANAM) and zoological society (SOMASPA) as well as the international group, Panthera, is using camera traps to monitor jaguars on the mainland.

"These cats are incredibly elusive and sightings on the mainland, let alone Barro Colorado Island, are extremely rare," said Jackie Willis. "This is what makes this photo so excitingit offers proof positive that despite all the obstacles it faces this species is still making its way in Panama. We will be on the lookout for jaguar scat and tracks, and we will hope this individual passes by another camera trap before it leaves the island."


Contact: Beth King
703-487-3770 x8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Related biology news :

1. Which came first, the moth or the cactus?
2. First all-African GM crop is resistant to maize streak virus
3. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
4. CU-Boulder team discovers first ancient manioc fields in Americas
5. First finding of a metabolite in 1 sex only
6. First orchid fossil puts showy blooms at some 80 million years old
7. First individual genome sequence published
8. U of M begins nations first clinical trial using T-reg cells from cord blood in leukemia treatment
9. UNH becomes first university in nation to use landfill gas as primary energy source
10. Scientists in first global study of poison gas in the atmosphere
11. Weight gain between first and second pregnancies associated with increased odds of male second child
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
First jaguar photo taken at Smithsonian Research Station in Panama
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 In the present market scenario, ... for various industry verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, ... growing demand for secure & simplified access control and ... as hacking of bank accounts, misuse of users, , ... as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones are expected to provide ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... human interface solutions, today announced that Google has adopted ... family of touch controller solutions to power its newest ... Nexus 6P by Huawei. --> ... ecosystem partners like Google to provide strategic collaboration in ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... PALO ALTO, Calif. and LAS ... – Nok Nok Labs , an innovator in ... FIDO Alliance , today announced the launch of its ... the first unified platform enabling organizations to use standards-based ... authentication. The Nok Nok S3 Authentication Suite is ideal ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of bacteria ... for more effective treatment for one of the most commonly ... --> --> Gum disease is one ... relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with it ... researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® ... management will participate in a fireside chat discussion at ... New York . The discussion is scheduled ... .  A replay will be ... Media Contact:McDavid Stilwell  , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid ... will be speaking at the following conference, and invited ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... the request of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto ... this news release there are no corporate developments that ... price. --> --> ... --> . --> Aeterna Zentaris ...
Breaking Biology Technology: