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

Arizona Project

Evolution of the Ocelot in Arizona

January 2012 - December 2017


Participating Agencies

  • Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

Goal: Determine the relationship of ocelots in Arizona to ocelots in neighboring populations in Mexico. The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) once occurred along both coasts and inland in northern Mexico, and into Texas and Arizona in the US. They reached southeastern Arizona as occasional wanderers from Mexico. There is little known about the genetic relationships of these occasional ocelots in Arizona, to ocelots in northern Mexico, to ocelots further south and east in their range. In order to gain better information on the evolutionary history and how ocelot population are subdivided in the northern part of their range, we will address the following objectives: Collect samples from museums (hide, bone) and other verifiable sources (blood, tissue, scat, hide, other) from northern, Mexico and Arizona. Perform appropriate genetic analyses on samples for species identification (for unknown origin samples) and DNA genotyping for relatedness estimates. Analyze genetic data to determine relatedness within populations, and between Arizona and northern Mexico. Compare samples from Arizona and northern Mexico to samples from other parts of Mexico, Texas and the remainder of the ocelot range, using data from other ocelot studies. Collect morphological data on all museum specimens and other skins and skulls.