OCELOT HABITAT USE IN THE PACIFIC EQUATORIAL FOREST

The forest of coastal Ecuador is a biodiversity hotspot (Conservation International) that is the most threatened tropical forest worldwide with < 4% of the forest remaining. Third Millenium Alliance (TMA), a Non-Government Organization, established the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve that is strategically placed in the Pacific Equatorial Forest where the largest amount of unprotected forest persists. With TMA’s goal to create and preserve a conservation corridor that links existing remnant forest patches, they have initiated a camera trap study to learn about the ecology of wide-ranging species, particularly felids.

As a guest researcher for TMA, I helped to design and implement an ongoing camera trap study in Jama-Coaque Reserve and surrounding areas to identify what fine-scale habitat characteristics influence ocelot occupancy. This preliminary work will create an ecological-base for future research that involves extending the camera grid into surrounding private lands and outfitting ocelots with radio-telemetry collars to monitor behaviour and movement patterns of this elusive species.