Marking behaviors of jaguars (Panthera onca) and pumas (Puma concolor) were investigated by linking sign from transect surveys to species, sex, and individual detected by camera traps along trails in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize. The most commonly encountered big-cat signs were scrape marks. These were produced by cats raking the ground with their feet. Scrapes were associated more strongly with presence of male pumas than with female pumas or jaguars of either sex. Scats found in scrapes were genotyped to species level and indicated that jaguars produced larger scrapes than pumas and that pumas were more likely to scrape with their hind feet than with front feet. Scrapes were spatially clustered along trails, indicating that individuals scrape in response to other scrapes in the same area. High scraping frequencies were not associated with the presence of specific individuals, suggesting that scrape-marking behavior does not signal dominance in this area.
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Vol. 91 • No. 5