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Temporal and dietary segregation in a neotropical small-felid assemblage and its relation to prey activity

Nagy-Reis, Mariana B., Iwakami, Victor H.S., Estevo, Cesar A., Setz, Eleonore Z.F.
Mammalian biology 2019 v.95 pp. 1-8
Leopardus pardalis, Leopardus wiedii, Puma yagouaroundi, camera trapping, diet, feces, forests, mammals, prey species, surveys, sympatry, Brazil
Mechanisms that decrease niche overlap in at least one of its dimensions (i.e., spatial, temporal, or dietary) tend to facilitate coexistence of similar, sympatric species. We investigated whether temporal or dietary segregation plays a significant role in the coexistence of Neotropical small felids. In addition, we examined the role of prey activity in shaping their time use. We compared the activity and diet of four felids (oncilla - Leopardus gutullus, margay - L. wiedii, jaguarundi - Puma yagouaroundi, and ocelot - L. pardalis) using camera trapping and scat surveys (45 sampling sites) in an Atlantic Forest remnant (35,000 ha) in Brazil. Ocelot, margay, and oncilla seem to be generalists and, overall, they consumed mammalian prey species of distinct sizes. As a consequence, we found moderate dietary overlap between all pairs of felids and low between ocelot and the other species. Oncilla and margay seem to be cathemeral, jaguarundi diurnal, and ocelot nocturnal, which resulted in low to moderate temporal overlap between them, potentially decreasing interspecific encounters. Predator-prey temporal overlap seems to be moderate for oncilla, margay, and jaguarundi, but high for ocelot. Our results suggest that time partitioning associated with dietary differences contribute to the coexistence of this Neotropical small-felid assemblage, and that prey activity is a factor shaping their activity pattern, especially for ocelot.