Co-Existence Ecology of Large Predators in Belize


  • Brogan Elizabeth Holcombe Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Dr. Marcella J. Kelly Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University



Occupancy, Occupancy Modeling, Detection, Detection Modeling, Big Cats, Belize, Jaguar, Ocelot, Puma, Sex, Sex Interactions, Species Interactions, Interactions, Behavior, Behavioral, Ecology, Ecology Modeling


Jaguars, pumas, and ocelots are the main large predators within Belize, Central America that co-exist together and compete for resources. This study focused on determining whether the occurrence and/or detection of smaller predators (ocelots and pumas) is influenced by larger, more dominant predators (jaguars) across the landscape. Additionally, within this study we examined the influence of habitat-type and individual species sex on co-existence ecology utilizing data collected from non-invasive trail cameras in Belize. We formatted raw photo data into “capture histories” for three target species at each camera station across four study sites, and calculated the species interaction factors (SIFs) through co-occurrence modeling in program PRESENCE. Data analysis is currently on-going, but we hypothesize that the top-down control hypothesis, which states top predators will negatively influence space use and/or detection by smaller predators. We expect this will lead to negative SIFs in pairwise comparison indicating avoidance of top predators by smaller ones. Within each species, our preliminary results for the first of four study show that males tend to occur at a camera station shortly after females. Thus we expect this to lead to positive SIF values (indicating attraction) between the sexes of the same species. While analyses are not yet complete, we expect our results to give insight into species co-existence among competitors and also provide a greater understanding to whether sex and/or habitat influences competing species interactions.


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Author Biographies

Brogan Elizabeth Holcombe, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Student (graduating May 2018)

Dr. Marcella J. Kelly, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Professor, Wildlife Conservation Department



How to Cite

Holcombe, B. E., & Kelly, D. M. J. (2018). Co-Existence Ecology of Large Predators in Belize. Journal of Student Research.