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Figure 2. Jaguar records obtained along the AF and the areas of jaguar occupancy (AJO), the areas of
potential jaguar occupancy (APJO) and the distribution of available jaguar habitat in the Atlantic Forest.
The map was created with ArcGis 10.3 (www.arcgis.com).
The other four JCU are smaller and probably contain less than 50 individuals each consequently were classified as JCU Type II. These JCUs varied in terms of size, density and habitat conditions (Table 2). The largest is
Mbaracayú, in eastern Paraguay, which encompasses 4,086 km2 of jaguar habitat. The other three vary between
503 km2 and 3,915 km2 and are located in Minas Gerais State and the coastal region of Brazil (Fig. 3). These Type
II JCUs cover 18% of the priority areas for jaguar conservation in the AF (Table 2).
We identified five PJCUs in western Paraguay and the Brazilian coast (Fig. 3). The size of the PJCUs varied
between 539 km2 and 2,941 km2, and together they constitute 16% of the priority area for jaguar conservation
in the AF (Table 2). Despite the presence of jaguars in these PJCUs, jaguar records were scarce and densities are
apparently very low (Table 1). Small fragments with jaguar presence were spread across different areas of the
AF and constitute a very small fraction of the jaguar habitat (Table 2). Records in these areas are occasional and
probably of nonresident individuals.
Several areas where jaguar were not detected could be important for jaguar conservation in the future because
they are large areas with good quality jaguar habitat. Two of these areas are located near the Green Corridor JCU
and the Serra do Mar JCU, and if they were connected they could expand the size of these existing JCUs (Fig. 4).
We also identified potential core areas that may sustain jaguar’s subpopulations in the future, and are potential
areas for reintroduction programs. These areas are located in the northern part of the AF (Bahia and Piauí states
of Brazil), along the coast of Paraná and Santa Catarina states (Brazil), and in western Paraguay (Fig. 4). These
areas varied between 232 and 1,072 km2 and together cover 12,218 km2 of potential core areas.
Potential connectivity among the Jaguar Conservation Units. The relative cost (i.e., costs for a
jaguar attempting to move between two JCUs) or potential connectivity among the JCUs was highly variable.
The Linhares-Sooretama and Rio Doce JCUs showed the highest connectivity cost and isolation of all the JCUs
(Supplementary Table S2). Other JCUs and PJCUs could be grouped into two main regions: the Upper Paraná
Atlantic Forest-JCUs, in the West, and the Coastal Atlantic Forest-JCUs, in the East (Supplementary Table S2).
Connectivity between these two regions appears to have excessively high cost to allow jaguar movements
(Supplementary Table S2). Furthermore, the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest-JCUs showed higher cost distance
values, suggesting more isolation, whereas the Coastal Atlantic Forest-JCUs present lower values and thus higher
potential of connectivity (Supplementary Table S2).
Jaguar threats. The relative importance of threats varied among the different JCUs (Table 2). Ranked in
order of importance, the threats included poaching, scarcity of prey, small population size, site isolation, human
retaliation due to cattle predation, habitat loss, and road kills.
The population status of the jaguar in the AF is critical. Habitat loss and fragmentation have had a tremendous
impact, and the species is locally extinct in most of the region. The few remaining subpopulations are small, scattered, highly isolated, and associated with relatively large forest remnants. This dramatic situation is similar to that
faced by endangered large carnivore species in other regions of the World2.
Considering that a couple of centuries ago the species inhabited all the AF14,16, we found that approximately
85% of the jaguar habitat has been lost, and less than 7% of the region has medium to highly suitable habitat.
Clearly, habitat loss has been the major driver of jaguar population decline in the AF, as was previously described
Scientific Reports | 6:37147 | DOI: 10.1038/srep37147