Jaguar (Panthera onca) in the state of Mexico.
Since 1995, several researchers have added to our understanding of the geographical distribution of P. onca in Mexico (Tellez-Giron and Lopez-Forment, 1995; Lopez Soto et al., 1997; Moreno-Valdez, 1998; Ortega-Huerta and Medley, 1999; Lopez-Gonzalez and Brown, 2002; Rosas-Rosas and Lopez-Soto, 2002; Valdez et al., 2002). Records from central Mexico include a specimen (MZFC-M 3459) at the Museo de Zoologia, Facultad de Ciencias (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), from cloud forest and pine-oak forest at 2,500 m in the state of Guerrero, 3 km S Puerto del Gallo in the Sierra Madre del Sur (Navarro-Siguenza, 1986; Leon and Romo, 1991; Red Mundial de Informacion sobre Biodiversidad, http://www.conabio. gob.mx/remib/cgi-bin/remib_distribucion.cgi). Lopez-Wilchis and Lopez-Jardines (1998) reported a specimen from the state of Morelos in the United States National Museum of Natural History; however, R. Lopez-Wilchis (pers. comm.) told us that the locality and date of collection of that specimen appear suspect. C. Ludwig (in litt.) recently confirmed that the museum does not have a specimen of P. onca from Morelos.
Thus, no published record of P. onca from the state of Mexico exists. Various authors doubted the presence of jaguars in the pine-oak forest of the Transverse Neovolcanic Belt (Nowell and Jackson, 1996; Sanderson et al., 2002x), and others have stated than no jaguar has existed in central Mexico since the beginning of the past century (W. G. Swank and J. G. Teer, in litt.).
We previously investigated wild felids in the state of Mexico and recorded the presence of Leopardus pardalis, Leopardus wiedii, Puma concolor, Lynx rufus, and Herpailurus yagouaroundi (Sanchez et al., 2002). Subsequent surveys in the southwestern part of the same state have confirmed the continuous presence of P. concolor, L. pardalis, L. wiedii, and H. yagouaroundi. Based on these findings, we started the second stage of our project, with the aim of monitoring the presence of felids and re-assessing the possible presence of P. onca.
The study was performed in the Reserva Natural Sierra Nanchititla, an area of 674,10 [km.sup.2] in the Sierra Nanchititla in the southwestern part of the state of Mexico. The study area ranged in elevation from 400 to 2,080 m and was located 18[degrees]45'38"-19[degrees]4'13"N, 100[degrees]15'59"-100[degrees]36'34'V. Deciduous tropical forest is common in the Balsas River Basin (at elevations of 400-1,400 m), and pine-oak forests characterize the Transverse Neovolcanic Belt at 1,400-2,080 m. Climate in the Reserva Natural Sierra Nanchititla ranges from temperate subhumid at elevations [greater than or equal] 1,400 m to hot sub-humid at <1,400 m (Garcia, 1988). The nearest large human settlement (Tejupilco) is 65 km east by road from the Reserva Natural Sierra Nanchititla and has ca. 85,000 inhabitants (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informacion, http://www.INEGI.gob.mx).
We conducted our research October 2002-December 2004, using three complementary methods; interviews of local inhabitants, using regional names for wild cats and images of all species of Mexican cats, collection of scats, and automated photography at locations where felids had been detected during our previous work in the Reserva Natural Sierra Nanchititla.
We visited local communities on 12 occasions, every 20 days. We questioned farmers, cattle ranchers, forest rangers, hunters, and other local inhabitants about local sightings during the past 2 decades, and we asked them to show us any skins or other remains of jaguars in their possession. We walked ca. 1,360 km along trails and collected scats identified as those of felids. During December 2003-December 2004, we placed five motion-sensitive, automatic, photodetection systems (Wildlife Pro II Camera System T5D with Carl Zeiss [T.sup.*]-Tessar 3.5/35 optics with an interval chronometer manufactured by Yashica, Hong Kong, China) and 400 and 800 ASA color print film in a variety of locations. Cameras were programmed for an 18-s-interval between frames, and film was changed every 20 days. We tied cameras to tree-trunks 1-3 m from trails where footprints, scats, or both had been found previously. Distances between cameras were 4-13 km. For each photographic-detection event we recorded date, latitude, longitude, elevation, and coverage percentages (by vegetation stratum). Each location was mapped.
We conducted 86 interviews in 11 local communities. Age of interviewees averaged 49 years and ranged from 18 to 78. We received information about 109 sightings of cats during 1982-2004, of which 34 cats were described as spotted, but not representing P. onca. We did not find jaguar skins or remains in possession of local inhabitants.
We collected 132 scats and compared their diameters with known intervals for P. onca and P. concolor following criteria developed by Aranda (2000). We attributed 10 scats (Table 1) to P. onca because of their large diameter (35.01-38.84 mm, mean 36.37 [+ or -] 1.29 mm SD). This mean does not overlap with the maximum diameter reported for P. concolor by Aranda (2000). Furthermore, the diameter of the smallest scat attributed to the jaguar in Reserva Natural Sierra Nanchititla is larger than the largest values of the scats attributed to Puma by Aranda (2000).
Our cameras recorded 1,800 events. Three photographs, deposited in the collection of mammal images of the Estacion Biologica Sierra Nanchitida, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico, depicted a male jaguar (genitalia clearly visible). The first image, from 14 November 2004 at 0049 h (photograph EBSN-UAEMex 00010), shows the cat walking along the trail. The other two photographs were taken 20 days after the first; in one, the individual stopped to smell the ground (EBSN-UAEMex 00011), and in the other, the jaguar turned around on the trail (EBNS-UAEMex 00012). Carefully comparing size and distribution of spots on the body, we concluded that the three photographs depicted one individual. The photographs were made at an elevation of 1,845 m. (18[degrees]49'39.7"N, 100[degrees]24'22"W) in temperate pine-oak forest with coverage consisting of 75% trees, <1% shrubs, 20% herbaceous plants, and <1% of mosses. The most abundant species of trees were Quercus magnoliifolia, Q. elliptica, Q. urbanii, and Pinus oocarpa. Photographs were taken on a trail that ran parallel to a 500-m high escarpment 400 m away for ca. 15 km. There were two permanent watercourses (the Palos Prietos and El Salto rivers) and more than five temporary streams within a 10-km radius of the camera.
No visual sighting or physical evidence of jaguars was reported by local residents. This lack of evidence might reflect that the jaguar is more elusive than other felids (Ortega-Huerta and Medley, 1999; Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002), or might imply that its presence in the area is sporadic, possibly related to availability of more characteristic habitat (tropical and subtropical scrub at <1,200 m; Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002) in nearby Michoacan and Guerrero, although P. onca is known from oak forests elsewhere (TOlez-Giron and Lopez Forment, 1995; Ortega-Huerta and Medley, 1999). The high elevation at which the male was recorded might support the suggestion that jaguars have resorted to traveling along mountain slopes because of habitat fragmentation, hunting, and other human activity at lower elevations (Lopez-Gonzalez and Brown, 2002; Valdez et al., 2002).
Repeated photographs of a single individual in a 20-day period (and subsequently), plus presence of scats at various places, might document part of the home range of this male. Further investigations might clarify whether the Sierra de Nanchititla is visited rarely by wandering jaguars or whether there is an established population of a small number of individuals.
Our documentation of at least one individual in the southwestern part of the state of Mexico extends the known distribution of P. onca ca. 400 km SSW Arroyo Seco, Queretaro, and 27 km NW Purisima de Arista (TOlez-Giron and Lopez Forment, 1995), a locality described erroneously as 21[degrees]30'N and 100[degrees]42'W, but actually ca. 21[degrees]30'N and 99[degrees]42'W. It also extends the known range of the species ca. 140 km north of Puerto del Gallo (ca. 17[degrees]29'N and 100[degrees]11'W), Guerrero.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
This is the first documentation of the jaguar within the Balsas River Basin in central Mexico. The Wildlife Conservation Society considered the general region of the Balsas River Basin as a priority area for verifying the presence of P. once (www.savethejaguar.com); the basin might represent a potential corridor for dispersal as described by Sanderson et al. (2002b). We suggest that further investigation of wild felids in central Mexico and particularly in the Balsas River basin is worthwhile.
This study was funded by the Mexican people through projects 1820/2004 and 2188/2005 (Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico) and by a doctoral scholarship (103.5/04/1304) to OM V; the manuscript was derived from his dissertation. The Fundacion Terra-Nature funded this study through project 2330/2006. The Comision Estatal de Parques Namrales y de la Fauna allowed access to the Reserva Natural Sierra Nanchititla. Local inhabitants in the vicinity of Nanchititla offered ample collaboration and valuable answers to field surveys. Students at the Estacion Biologica Sierra de Nanchititla enthusiastically participated in fieldwork. OM-V thanks V. Vazquez for help in translation of parts of this text. We also thank C. A. Jones, H. Quigley, and an anonymous reviewer for comments that enriched the manuscript. OS acknowledges the interest of C. Breitenmoser (Cat Specialist Group, IUCN) in his research in Mexico, as well as the valuable assistance of M. Carleton and C. Ludwig (United States National Museum of Natural History), R. Lopez-Wilchis (Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa), and L. Leon (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) who kindly provided critical data.
Submitted 5 October 2006 Accepted 28 january 2008. Associate Editor was Cheri A. Jones.
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OCTAVIO MONROY-VILCHIS, * OSCAR SANCHEZ, ULISES AGUILERA-REYES, PEDRO SUAREZ, AND VICENTE URIOS
Estacion Biologica Sierra Nanchititla, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico, Instituto Literario 100, Colonia Centro, 50000, Toluca, Mexico (OM-V, UA-R, PS)
Estacion Biologica Terra Natura, Centro Iberoamericano de la Biodiversidad, Universidad de Alicante, Fundacion Terra Natura, Apartado 99, 03080 Alicante, Spain (OM-V, VU)
Consultor Cientifico en Conservacion de Vida Silvestre, Avenida Ixtlahuaca 609, Colonia Sanchez, Toluca 50040, Mexico (OS)
* Correspondent. firstname.lastname@example.org
TABLE 1--Records of the jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Reserva Natural Sierra de Nanchititla, state of Mexico, Mexico, 28 October 2002-28 December 2004. Record Locality Scat Bancos Scat Cascada Scat Mesa Alta Scat Cerro Alto Scat Mesa Alta Scat Piedra Scat Tinocos Scat Picacho Scat Bancos Scat Bancos Photograph Bancos Photograph Bancos Photograph Bancos Record Global position Scat 18[degrees]50'0.3'N, 100[degrees]25'51.8"W Scat 18[degrees]49'26.6'N, 100[degrees]25'39.9"W Scat 18[degrees]51'9.6'N, 100[degrees]24'25.7"W Scat 18[degrees]49'58.6'N, 100[degrees]24'9.5"W Scat 18[degrees]51'10.0'N, 100[degrees]24'37.1"W Scat 18[degrees]49'26.7'N, 100[degrees]25'16.5"W Scat 18[degrees]50'15.4'N, 100[degrees]25'58.6"W Scat 18[degrees]50'6.9'N, 100[degrees]23'53.2"W Scat 18[degrees]49'56.5'N, 100[degrees]23'51.8"W Scat 18[degrees]49'39.7N, 100[degrees]24'22"W Photograph 18[degrees]49'39.7'N, 100[degrees]24'22"W Photograph 18[degrees]49'39.7'N, 100[degrees]24'22"W Photograph 18[degrees]49'39.7'N, 100[degrees]24'22"W Record Elevation (m) Scat 1,868 [+ or -] 6.7 Scat 1,471 [+ or -] 4.1 Scat 1,859 [+ or -] 9.9 Scat 1,865 [+ or -] 5.2 Scat 1,830 [+ or -] 5.3 Scat 1,523 [+ or -] 10.1 Scat 1,760 [+ or -] 7.5 Scat 1,844 [+ or -] 5.7 Scat 1,873 [+ or -] 100 Scat 1,845 [+ or -] 100 Photograph 1,845 [+ or -] 100 Photograph 1,845 [+ or -] 100 Photograph 1,845 [+ or -] 100
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|Author:||Monroy-Vilchis, Octavio; Sanchez, Oscar; Aguilera-Reyes, Ulises; Suarez, Pedro; Urios, Vicente|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2008|
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