Last Updated 20 Aug 2020

Jaguars in the Amazon Rainforest: Threatened by Climate Change

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Habitat and Ecological Niche

Jaguars are commonly known as one of the top predators in the Amazon rainforest. Though they once occupied land from the southernmost part of central america to the northern regions of the US and Mexican border, today they roam the remote areas of South and Central America, particularly in the Amazon Rainforest. The Jaguar is the largest cat in the americas.

Jaguars are found most commonly in the Amazon rainforest, yet they are threatened by climate change. The region is characterized by heavy rainfall, high humidity, and high temperatures that allow for the housing of the richest biodiversity in the world. Subject to high humidity with frequent rainfall throughout the year, the Amazon Rainforest experiences no periodic seasons in the Amazon Rainforest. The ecosystem is driven by the Amazon river, and the hot and humid climate provides conditions for over ten percent of all of the species on earth to live, making the Amazon Rainforest the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet. The jaguar is found on the forest floor, the bottom layer of the rainforest, where the dense foliage and tree cover allows them to stalk their prey.

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Within the Amazon rainforest, jaguars are one of the apex predators, meaning that they are at the top of the food chain. Hunting mostly at night, jaguars are carnivorous consumers, hunting a wide variety of organisms. Among these are deer, capybaras, tapirs, peccaries, snakes, and monkeys. Jaguars are strong swimmers as well, which allows them to hunt organisms such as alligators, frogs, and fish effectively in rivers, however, the diet of a jaguar encompasses many organisms and is not limited to said examples. Because the jaguar is an apex predator, it plays a crucial role in controlling the populations of other species lower on the food chain.
Threats to the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is the most biodiverse ecosystem on earth, home to ten percent of species known on the planet, yet it is threatened greatly by climate change and human activities. The Amazon Rainforest is commonly referred to as the “lungs of the world”, as it plays a crucial role in absorbing carbon dioxide and producing six percent of the world’s oxygen. In the past, this ecosystem has been thought of as a carbon sink, but due to climate change and deforestation, the Amazon Rainforest is no longer absorbing as much carbon as seen in the past.

One of the principal threats to the Amazon Rainforest ecosystem is global warming and increasing El Nino drought periods. Higher temperatures due to the enhanced greenhouse gas effect caused by human activities in the region are changing precipitation patterns in the Amazon. Heavy rainfall is imperative to the thriving of plant species in the Amazon, and therefore to the living animals in the ecosystem as well. With increasing variance in precipitation patterns, the Amazon Rainforest is experiencing dry spells that are enhanced by El Nino, a natural phenomenon that brings warm weather to South America, and provides near perfect conditions for another significant threat to the Amazon Rainforest: forest fires.

Though El Nino is naturally occuring, climate change is causing more frequent El Nino events, therefore bringing more drought and dry spells to the Amazon. This dry season provides conditions for forest fires in the rainforest, though the number of naturally occurring forest fires is slight compared to those started by humans. Forest fires have been frequently started in the Amazon because of deforestation, and the number only increases with time. These fires are started in order to quickly clear vegetation so that land may be available for crops or cattle, and they burn thousands of square miles of forest per year, forcing animals to move or perish with the vegetation.

Humans pose perhaps the greatest threat to the Amazon Rainforest through deforestation. The leading cause of deforestation in South America is cattle ranching, but soy farming and agriculture are reasons for deforestation as well. According to National Geographic, as of August 2019, 17% of the entire Amazon rainforest has been lost due to deforestation. Deforestation not only kills organisms that absorb carbon out of the air, but releases substantial amounts of carbon into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming. Though deforestation provides land for economic growth, it comes with immense environmental consequences that will be felt globally given the situation is not addressed.
Impacts on the Food Web Due to Declining Jaguar Population Numbers

Jaguars in the Amazon Rainforest are threatened due to climate change, and in the future, the population of Jaguars in the rainforest will see a decline in numbers unless solutions to climate change in the region are effectively addressed.

Jaguars are apex predators of the Amazon rainforest; therefore, they play an important role in controlling the numbers of populations lower down on the food chain. Should the number of Jaguars in the ecosystem decline, the region would see an increase of all subsequent populations

Jaguars in the Amazon Rainforest: Threatened by Climate Change essay

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