Implications of fine-grained habitat fragmentation and road mortality for jaguar conservation in the atlantic forest, Brazil


Jaguar (Panthera onca) populations in the Upper Parana River, in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest region, live in a landscape that includes highly fragmented areas as well as relatively intact ones. We developed a model of jaguar habitat suitability in this region, and based on this habitat model, we developed a spatially structured metapopulation model of the jaguar populations in this area to analyze their viability, the potential impact of road mortality on the populations' persistence, and the interaction between road mortality and habitat fragmentation. In more highly fragmented populations, density of jaguars per unit area is lower and density of roads per jaguar is higher. The populations with the most fragmented habitat were predicted to have much lower persistence in the next 100 years when the model included no dispersal, indicating that the persistence of these populations are dependent to a large extent on dispersal from other populations. This, in turn, indicates that the interaction between road mortality and habitat fragmentation may lead to source-sink dynamics, whereby populations with highly fragmented habitat are maintained only by dispersal from populations with less fragmented habitat. This study demonstrates the utility of linking habitat and demographic models in assessing impacts on species living in fragmented landscapes.



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PLoS ONE, v. 11, n. 12, 2016.