Extensive aquatic subsidies lead to territorial breakdown and high density of an apex predator

Charlotte E. Eriksson, Daniel L. Z. Kantek, Selma S. Miyazaki, Ronaldo G. Morato, Manoel dos Santos-Filho, Joel S. Ruprecht, Carlos A. Peres, Taal Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Energetic subsidies between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems can strongly influence food webs and population dynamics. Our objective was to study how aquatic subsidies affected jaguar (Panthera onca) diet, sociality, and population density in a seasonally flooded protected area in the Brazilian Pantanal. The diet (n = 138 scats) was dominated by fish (46%) and aquatic reptiles (55%), representing the first jaguar population known to feed extensively on fish and to minimally consume mammals (11%). These aquatic subsidies supported the highest jaguar population density estimate to date (12.4 jaguars/100 km²) derived from camera traps (8,065 trap nights) and GPS collars (n = 13). Contrary to their mostly solitary behavior elsewhere, we documented social interactions previously unobserved between same-sex adults including cooperative fishing, co-traveling, and play. Our study demonstrates that aquatic subsidies, frequently described in omnivores, can also transform the ecology and behavior of obligate carnivores.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03543
JournalEcology
Volume103
Issue number1
Early online date6 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • allochthonous resources
  • aquatic subsidy
  • jaguar
  • obligate carnivore
  • Panthera onca
  • social dynamics

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