Publically Accessible Data Intended to Help Identify and Protect Jaguar Corridors
TUCSON, AZ – Wildlands Network and Conservation Science Partners released a new report today that reveals previously unidentified habitat and corridors for jaguars in the southern United States and northern Mexico. Using high-resolution data and advanced habitat modeling software, the team at Conservation Science Partners was able to improve upon prior jaguar modeling and mapping conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The new analysis identifies potentially suitable jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico, the report suggests that previous maps of jaguar habitat have underestimated potentially suitable habitat for jaguar in the United States, and to a lesser extent in Mexico. Wildlands Network has already shared the new findings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and plans to engage other decision makers to assist in jaguar recovery efforts.
“Wildlands Network’s goal is to collect and analyze the best available science to assist in recovery efforts for jaguar across the US-Mexico borderlands,” said Juan Carlos Bravo, Director of the Mexico Program for Wildlands Network. “This new report fills in critical gaps in information and modeling for the region that we believe should form the basis for all recovery planning moving forward.”
One of the most significant results of the new analysis is the identification of potentially suitable jaguar habitat and connectivity among the habitat at roughly 2 acres per cell scale –providing a level of detail 100 times greater than previously available to land managers and conservation partners. An immediate specific use of these data will be to assist authorities in Mexico who are collaborating with Wildlands Network to identify specific areas for wildlife mitigation measures along Highway 2 in Sonora. In the United States, the new data also shows the importance of habitat north of I-10, which could guide planning for wildlife mitigation efforts along this transportation corridor.
“We were able to leverage our detailed datasets of land use/cover and our experience with trans-boundary connectivity mapping to quickly build a novel, gradient-based model that generated maps of unprecedented detail of potentially suitable habitat and connectivity for the jaguar throughout the borderlands region of U.S. and Mexico,” said Dr. David Theobald, Senior Scientist at the non-profit Conservation Science Partners.
Wildlands Network previously completed jaguar connectivity modeling in 2007 using rudimentary techniques, and others have crafted different models, yet none with the resolution of this new product. Recent innovations in modeling and GIS allowed for today’s updated and detailed findings. Financial support for this project came from the Wilburforce Foundation.
Wildlands Network is a binational, nonprofit conservation organization that’s mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so that life in all its diversity can thrive.