Fragmentation and habitat loss are top threats to tropical forest biodiversity and the Atlantic Forest is no exception. Over 80% of Atlantic Forest remnants in Brazil are < 50 ha and lack resident populations of large predators (jaguars, Panthera onca, and pumas, Puma concolor). Mesopredators with opportunistic life-history characteristics (e.g., ocelots, Leopardus pardalis) are now hypothesized to be the dominant competitor(s) in these systems and may negatively affect the spatial or temporal distribution of other sympatric mesocarnivores. We used camera-trap data, occupancy models, and temporal overlap indexes to explore whether ocelot occurrence influenced the habitat use or activity patterns of 6 mesocarnivores in reserves of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Ocelot occurrence did not influence the habitat use of these mesocarnivores. Moreover, the ability of some mesocarnivore species, especially the little spotted cat (L. guttulus), to adjust their activity patterns to avoid direct contact with ocelots may facilitate their coexistence in these Atlantic Forest remnants. Ocelot occurrence did not influence the activity pattern of 2 nocturnal species (the crab-eating fox, Cerdocyon thous, and the crab-eating raccoon, Procyon cancrivorus), suggesting that these species are more tolerant of ocelots than other mesocarnivores. The probability of occupancy varied among species, with tayra (Eira barbara) and South American coati (Nasua nasua) having the highest occupancy estimates; overall, occupancy by mesocarnivores correlated negatively with reserve size. Because mesocarnivores are important drivers of ecosystem function, structure, and dynamics and may occupy unique roles that cannot be filled by larger carnivores, future studies should assess environmental factors influencing the use of these small remnants of Atlantic Forest by each mesocarnivore species.
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Vol. 97 • No. 6