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Journal for Nature Conservation 31 (2016) 9–15

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal for Nature Conservation
journal homepage:

Puma density, habitat use and conflict with humans in the Argentine
Verónica A. Quiroga a,b,∗ , Andrew J. Noss c , Agustín Paviolo a,b , Gabriel I. Boaglio d ,
Mario S. Di Bitetti a,b,e
Instituto de Biología Subtropical (IBS), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and Universidad Nacional de Misiones
(UNaM), Bertoni 85, Puerto Iguazú, Misiones CP 3370, Argentina
Asociación Civil Centro de Investigaciones del Bosque Atlántico (CeIBA), Bertoni 85, Puerto Iguazú, Misiones CP 3370, Argentina
Department of Geography, University of Florida, 1405 NW 38th St., Gainesville, FL, USA
Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología Animal (IDEA), Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC), Av. Vélez Sarsfield 299, Córdoba Capital, Córdoba CP 5000,
Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, UNaM, Bertoni 124, Eldorado, Misiones CP 3380, Argentina

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 27 September 2015
Received in revised form 22 February 2016
Accepted 23 February 2016

a b s t r a c t
The puma Puma concolor is the most widely distributed felid in the Americas. Although it utilizes humanmodified landscapes, its extensive territorial requirements, trophic needs, and real or perceived threats to
livestock render the puma susceptible to conflict with humans. Our objectives were to evaluate the population density, habitat use, and puma-human conflict in the Argentine Chaco. We conducted camera-trap
surveys and interviews over a three-year period, at three sites with different levels of legal protection and
with different ranch outpost and livestock densities: Copo National Park (1204 trap days, 24 stations, 17
interviews, national park, lowest ranch/livestock density), Aborigen Reserve (1993 trap days, 29 stations,
13 interviews, indigenous reserve, medium ranch/livestock density) and El Cantor (2129 trap days, 35
stations, 11 interviews, no protection, highest ranch/livestock density). Puma population density was
low (<1 individual/100 km2 ) and we found no significant differences in puma density across the three
sites. Occupancy models show a positive relationship between puma detectability and the distances from
vehicle roads. Legal protection status of the área does not positively affect puma density, probably due to
the large edge effect, and weak law enforcement capacity at Copo National Park. Low density of pumas
at the three sites could result primarily from retaliation killing of pumas by local ranchers in response
to predation on goats. Pumas in the Chaco require effectively managed protected areas, regulation of
wildlife hunting and livestock management practices to minimize depredation.
© 2016 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The puma Puma concolor is the most wide-ranging felid in the
Americas, from Canada in North America to Patagonia in South
America (Currier, 1983; Shaw, Beier, Culver, & Grigione, 2007).
The species is relatively tolerant to anthropogenic disturbance and
maintains populations in some human-modified landscapes (De

∗ Corresponding author at:, Instituto de Biología Subtropical (IBS), Consejo
Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and Universidad
Nacional de Misiones (UNaM), Bertoni 85, Puerto Iguazú, Misiones CP 3370,
E-mail addresses:,
(V.A. Quiroga), (A.J. Noss), (A. Paviolo), (G.I. Boaglio),
(M.S. Di Bitetti).
1617-1381/© 2016 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Angelo, Paviolo, & Di Bitetti, 2011; Haines, 2006). However, similar
to other large carnivores, individual and population fitness is weakened as human disturbance reduces natural prey availability and
fragments suitable habitat, forcing pumas to increase their already
extensive territorial requirements and cross patches of unsuitable
habitat (Gittleman & Harvey, 1982; Ripple et al., 2014; Wilmers
et al., 2013). As a top predator, the puma also enters into conflicts
with livestock owners, and is persecuted because of its perceived or
actual predation of livestock (Kissling, Fernandez, & Paruelo, 2009;
Soto-Shoender & Giuliano, 2011). At the same time, the puma is
valued as a trophy, and direct hunting pressure is one of its principal conservation threats across its range (Carvalho & Pezzuti, 2010;
Mosa & Goytia, 2004; Paviolo, Di Blanco, De Angelo, & Di Bitetti,
The implementation of protected areas is one of the most
widespread strategies for the conservation of biodiversity. How-