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Use of GIS and Remote Sensing Technologies to Study Habitat Requirements of Ocelots, Leopardus pardalis, in south Texas

Description: The goals of this study were to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies to gain a better understanding of habitat requirements of a population of ocelots in south Texas, and then apply this knowledge to form a predictive model to locate areas of suitable habitat in Willacy and Cameron counties, Texas. Satellite imagery from August 1991 and August 2000 were classified into four land cover types: closed canopy, open canopy, water, and urban/barren. These classified images were converted into digital thematic maps for use in resource utilization studies and modeling. Location estimates (762 from 1991 and 406 from 2000) were entered into a GIS in order to extract information about home range and resource selection. Each animal's home range was calculated using both Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) and Kernel home range estimators (95% and 50%). Habitat parameters of interest were: soil, land cover, human density, road density, and distance to closest road, city and water body. Ocelots were found to prefer closed canopy and avoid open canopy land cover types. Ocelots preferred soils known to support thorn scrub, an indication of the importance of this habitat. Landscape metrics associated with habitat used by ocelots were determined through the use of Patch Analyst, an extension for ArcView 3.2. Contrary to expectations, ocelots utilized areas with greater fragmentation than random areas available for use. However, this use of highly fragmented areas was an indication of the degree of fragmentation of suitable habitat in the area. Further investigation of patch size selection indicated that ocelots used large sized patches disproportionately to availability, indicating a preference for larger patches. A model was created using the resource selection and habitat preference GIS database from 1991. This model was used to identify areas of “optimal”, ”sub-optimal”, and “unsuitable” habitat for ocelots in 2000. ...
Date: August 2002
Creator: Jackson, Victoria L.