Ferraz, K. M. P. M. B., Beisiegel, B. M., Paula, R. C. De, Sana, D. A., Campos, C. B. de, Oliveira, T. G. de, & Desbiez, A. L. J. (2012). How species distribution models can improve cat conservation – jaguars in Brazil. Cat News Special Issue, 7, 38–42.
Modeling species distribution is a promising field of research for improving conservation efforts and setting priorities. The aim of this study was to produce an environmental suitability map for jaguar distribution in two biomes in Brazil-Caatinga and Atlantic Forest-, where the species is Critically Endangered as part of the Jaguar National Action Plan workshop (Atibaia, São Paulo state). Species occurrence (N = 57 for Caatinga and N = 118 for Atlantic Forest), provided by jaguar specialists, and ten environmental predictors (elevation, land cover, distance from water and biocli-matic variables) were used to generate species distribution models in Maxent. Both models presented high predictive success (AUC = 0.880 ± 0.027 for Caatinga and AUC = 0.944 ± 0.022 for Atlantic Forest) and were highly significant (p < 0.001), predicting only 18.64% of Caatinga and 10.32% of Atlantic Forest as suitable for jaguar occurrence. The species distribution models revealed the low environmental suitability of both biomes for jaguar occurrence, emphasizing the urgency of setting conservation priorities and strategies to improve jaguar conservation such as the implementation of new protected areas and corridors for species dispersal.