Thursday, 29 August 2019

Isotopes in feces show where secretive jaguars hunt

Date: August 28, 2019
Source: University of Cincinnati

How do you follow a predator so elusive that its nickname is "shadow cat"?

To track secretive jaguars in the forested mountains of Belize, the University of Cincinnati turned to geology and poop.

Brooke Crowley, a UC associate professor of geology and anthropology, can trace the wanderings of animals using isotopes of strontium found in their bones or the bones of animals they have eaten. This method works even with long-dead animals such as ancient mammoths.

Now she and her research partners are applying the technique to jaguar poop, or scat, found in the geologically diverse Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in Belize.

Claudia Wultsch, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History and City University of New York, and Marcella J. Kelly, a professor of wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech, co-authored the study. Both have studied jaguars in Belize for more than a decade.

The research found that jaguar scat provides isotopic signatures similar to those found in the undigested bones of prey to track the big cat's movements across its varied landscape. Researchers examined strontium, carbon and nitrogen isotopes to identify the habitat and geology of prey upon which the jaguars were feeding.

The isotopes get absorbed in the food chain starting with plants that draw in minerals. Strontium then gets absorbed into the tissues and bones of herbivores that eat the plants and finally those of the predators that hunt them.

No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis