Migliorini, R. P., Peters, F. B., Favarini, M. O., & Kasper, C. B. (2018). Trophic ecology of sympatric small cats in the Brazilian Pampa. PLoS ONE, 13(7).
Information about resource partitioning among small cat species that live in sympatry in South America is fairly incomplete. Knowledge about feeding habits is essential for understanding the role of these predators in the environment, the impact on prey populations, and potential competition among themselves and with other carnivores. This study aimed to describe and compare the diet of four sympatric small cats in the grasslands of southern Brazil. We analysed the stomach contents of 37 Geoffroy’s cats (Leopardus geoffroyi), 27 margays (Leopardus wiedii), 14 pampas cats (Leopardus colocola), and 20 jaguarundis (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) obtained as road kill in the Brazilian Pampa in southern Brazil. Small mammals were the most representative class consumed by all cats, followed by Aves, Reptilia, and Amphibia. Some items, such as rodents Cavia aperea, Akodon sp., Oligoryzomys sp. and Passeriformes were consumed by all cat species. Niche overlap varied widely, from 10% (margay x jaguarundi) to 92% (jaguarundi x pampas cat). Niche breadth indicated that jaguarundi were the most specialized of the cats (Bsta = 0.24) in this region, with a diet closely associated to C. aperea. Margay consumed more items associated with arboreal behaviour than other cat species, but consumed more terrestrial items than arboreal ones. The pampas cat consumed mostly terrestrial species associated with open fields. Geoffroy’s cat consumed mammals found in a diversity of habitats, indicating high ecological flexibility. Species with more similarity in diet such as jaguarundi and pampas cat probably present temporal segregation in activity. In conclusion, despite their habitat and diet similarities, these four species explore distinct microhabitats by foraging different prey groups, what favor them to live in sympatry.