Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Evolution of the Jaguar in Arizona, US and Sonora, Mexico

January 2007 - December 2017


Participating Agencies


Goal: Determine if jaguars in the northernmost part of their range, the Sonoran Desert ecosystem of Arizona and Mexico, constitute a major taxonomic designation below the species level (such as subspecies) vs. a unique population. This project is part of a binational effort to help to the conservation and protection of jaguars on both sides of the border. This study uses molecular genetic markers to examine population characteristics of jaguars in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Microsatellite molecular markers are utilized to allow estimates for overall genetic diversity (an indicator for genetic health and inbreeding status of the population). Additionally, this study will gain insights into the evolutionary significance of the Sonoran jaguar as this study will examine the relationship of the southern Arizona/northern Mexico jaguar population relative to other jaguar populations in Central and South America.