Ecology and conservation of white -lipped peccaries and jaguars in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
The movements, activity patterns, habitat use, and range size of 36 (25F:11M) radio-marked white-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari), all members of a single herd, were monitored in relation to seasonal fruit availability in part of Corcovado National Park (CNP) during 1996–1998. Fruit availability varied seasonally and by forest type: peccaries more frequently used Primary forest during February–May (medium fruit abundance), Secondary and Coastal forest during June–September (high fruit) and Yolillal (swamp forest) during October–January (low fruit). Annually the peccaries ranged over about 40 km2, but use of the area shifted seasonally and was significantly less when fruit was most abundant. Peccary movements are likely reduced and thus density likely increases in areas where the interspersion of seasonally important habitats is high.
The spatial and temporal movements of jaguars (Panthera onca ) were monitored in relation to the distribution of nesting marine turtles and white-lipped peccaries in part of CNP during 1996–1998. One radio-marked adult female jaguar was monitored for 3 years to assess home range location and size, activity patterns, and food habits. Jaguar tracks also were recorded on 5-km beach surveys for nesting turtles, on 20-km forest trail transects, and when following 36 radio-marked adult peccaries that lived as part of a single herd. Jaguars regularly ate turtles and peccaries, but spent more time on the beach during last quarter and new moon (LQ/NM) phases when turtles were more abundant. Jaguar home range size did not vary by season or year, but was more restricted during LQ/NM phases, as well. Jaguars were more nocturnal during LQ/NM phases (turtles nested only at night), and more diurnal otherwise (peccaries were diurnal). An “El Niño” weather event was reflected in lower abundance of nesting turtles at all phases of the moon, and increased activity of jaguars in the forest. Jaguar hunting behavior in CNP is strongly related to the abundance of nesting marine turtles and thus moon phase.
Reproduction-related observations made on the radio-marked adult female jaguar included when she traveled with an adult male, her approximate denning dates, cub productivity (1/litter), and the length of time between pregnancies (22 months).