A Predator-Habitat Assessment for Felids in the

Inland Atlantic Forest of Eastern Paraguay:

A Preliminary Analysis

Gerald L. Zuercher

Ph.D. Candidate, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University, 205 Leasure Hall,

Manhattan, KS 66506; (785) 532-6336; (fax) (785) 532-7159; Research Associate, Sunset Zoological park;

geraldz@ksu.edu

Philip S. Gipson

Unit Leader, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University, 205 Leasure Hall, Manhattan,

KS 66506; (785) 532-6070; (fax) (785) 532-7159; gipson@ksu.edu

Kim Hill

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131; (505) 277-1536;

(fax) (505) 277-0874; kimhill@unm.edu

Abstract

Jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), and possibly six species of small cats (ocelot,

Leopardus pardalis; margay, Leopardus wiedii; oncilla, Leopardus tigrinus; Geoffroy's cat,

Oncifelis geoffroyi, pampas cat, Oncifelis colocolo, jaguarundi, Herpailurus yagouaroundi) coexist

within Mbaracay˙ Forest Nature Reserve in eastern Paraguay. At the landscape level, this

64,000-hectare island of Inland Atlantic Forest, surrounded by agricultural land, is a mosaic of

forest habitats and interspersed grasslands. Habitats on the reserve include low, medium, and

high forest, as well as dry and wet grasslands. The adaptive nature of most predators led us to

predict that felids would occur uniformly across habitats. Tests of independence between species

and habitats, however, suggest distinct associations between felids and habitats. Explanations

for habitat affinities include interference competition or simply following prey to their preferred

habitats. Thus, while felids in the inland Atlantic forest may be habitat generalists across their

entire range, they exhibit some habitat preferences within Mbaracay˙ reserve, possibly as an

adaptation to interspecific competition and/or prey availability. Further research is needed to

determine whether these patterns continue long-term or are an artifact of the timing of our

current data collection efforts.