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The Secret Lives of Wild
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The Secret Lives of Wild Animals — Text-only | Flash Special Report
Ocelot and Agouti


Movie
Learn about the cat-and-mouse games Central America’s ocelots and agoutis play, their predator-prey relationship and its effects on the ecosystem.

MONTAGE OF GROUNDHOGS, CAMEL, ALLIGATOR, RODENT
 
Understanding aspects of animal mortality is important, not only for understanding and studying the evolution of that species in particular, but also for understanding some of the broader impacts that species has on its ecosystem.

AGOUTI GOING INTO UNDERBRUSH

For example, the agouti

OCELOT CARRYING AGOUTI AWAY

that you see in this video that has just been killed.  Before,

AGOUTI ON OPEN LAND, EATING BERRIES, BURYING FOOD

when it was living, it was running around taking seeds, eating some of them, and burying some of them in caches under ground for later.  And the research that we’re doing is trying to

AGOUTI CARRYING FOOD

test the idea that the only way a seed can survive agouti is if the agouti itself dies,

AGOUTI BURYING SEEDS

so an agouti would bury the seeds and before it can go back

OCELOT  CARRYING AGOUTI AWAY

and dig them all up, it would get predated by something such as the ocelot in this video.  And these seeds probably have a better chance of surviving and growing into trees than seeds that are buried by agoutis that do not die.

AGOUTI WEARING RADIO COLLAR

Getting live data from radio-tagged animals is a new development.  It’s something that’s really exciting

COMPUTERS INSIDE LABORATORY, SHOWING TRACKING SYSTEM

because it allows us to see from the lab and actually get alerted when an animal dies by the change in pattern of their activity,

SCIENTIST CHECKING TALL OUTDOOR ANTENNA

and then we can ourselves run out into the forest.  And in this case, we saw the animal had been predated and was not fully consumed, so we left a motion sensitive video camera there and went away, and as soon as the sun set, the presumed

OCELOT CARRYING AGOUTI AWAY

predator came back to the scene of the crime to finish its meal.  And so you can see the ocelot here coming back and dragging the carcass of the agouti away from the scene of the crime.

VARIOUS SCENES OF AGOUTI  IN FOREST

Predation is important, not only because of its role in controlling populations, such as populations of rodents, but also in affecting their behavior – when they’re active, where they’re active on the landscape, and can even affect their ecosystem role.

AGOUTI WITH LARGE SEEDS

In this case, agoutis bury seeds, and if they’re killed by ocelots, the seeds that they buried are more likely to survive than if the agouti survives for a longer period of time.

OCELOT IN WOODS

So, in this case, predation may even have an impact on

FOREST SCENE – ZOOM OUT AND SLOW FADE OUT

the whole forest ecosystem and the regeneration and diversity of tree species.

Movie Credits

CONTENT
Roland Kays, NY State Museum
Christian Ziegler, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Enzo Aliaga-Rossel
Pia Pfau
Jose Manuel V. Fragoso, University of Hawaii
Kirsten Silvius, University of Hawaii
Bryan A. Hanson, DePauw University
Lee J. Miller

PRODUCTION
Cliff Braverman, National Science Foundation
Gwendolyn Morgan, National Science Foundation
Marion F. Briggs, National Science Foundation
S2N Media, Inc.