The purpose of the UA research project is to establish a non-invasive, hands-off system for detecting and monitoring jaguars and ocelots. The project is using motion-sensor-activated "trail" cameras placed in areas where the spotted cats are most likely to be detected. Once fully operational, up to 240 paired cameras will be in place throughout the project area to capture images of both sides of detected animals.
Very little is known about these cats in the northern part of their range. The primary distribution of jaguars and ocelots, both known as Neotropical cats, ranges across Central and South America and Mexico. Both species occurred historically and recently in the southwestern United States, although in few numbers. Every new data point will add to the science and body of knowledge about their distribution and ecology in the southwestern U.S., which is why this project is so important.
The UA is conducting this large-scale project to detect and monitor jaguars and ocelots along the northern boundary of the U.S.-Mexico international border, from the Baboquivari Mountains in Arizona to the southwestern "boot heel" of New Mexico.
The researchers also are employing a specially-trained scat detection dog to assist the team in collecting potential jaguar and ocelot scat in the areas where a jaguar or ocelot has been detected by camera. The UA Conservation Genetics lab, under the leadership of Melanie Culver, U.S. Geological Survey geneticist in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment, will conduct genetic testing of the scat to verify species and possibly identify the individual cats.
Culver, who is the project's principal investigator, said: "What is exciting about this research project is the combination of techniques and skills, from the deep knowledge of our field
|Contact: Daniel Stolte|
University of Arizona