Cintia Gisele Tellaeche, Argentina

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Cintia Gisele Tellaeche, Andean Cat Alliance, Argentina

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dSCGIS Profile     


2016 Presentation (abstract below)

2016 Video -mp4 HD (mb) 


2019 Update:

Cintia Gisele Tellaeched
Instituto de Ecorregiones Andinas (INECOA), Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Jujuy, Argentina
CETAS - Centro de Estudios Territoriales Ambientales y Sociales, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, Alberdi, Jujuy, Argentina

2018 Paper Jour Mammology:  "External and skull morphology of the Andean cat and Pampas cat: new data from the high Andes of Argentina"

2017 Blog Post on Cintia's work & how you can help from International Society for Endangered Cats

2015 Interview Andean Cat Alliance "Argentina’s Andean Cat Power Couple"

2016 Profile:

*-Organization name: Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias – Andean Cat Alliance (AGA)., 
*-Organization full street address (in your local format): Alberdi 47, San Salvador de Jujuy, Jujuy. CP:4600
*-Organization full mailing address, if different:
*-Country: Argentina
*-Work phone with country and area code: 054 0388-4221556
*-Work fax with country and area code: 054 0388-4221556
*-Main email:
Web site URL if any:

describe the history of your personal work in conservation and GIS: I have always loved outdoors and since I was a child I felt the need of contributing somehow to the conservation of the wildlife.
   In 2007 I participate as a volunteer of my first field campaign in the Argentinean High Andes. Since my first field work day in the team, I knew that that was what I wanted to do in my life, so I continued working with Andean carnivores as a voluntary and then I did my graduate thesis on the project focused on Andean and Pampas cat food habits.
After my graduation I decide to continue working on the project and I started to work on my PhD Thesis
It did not been easy to work with such an elusive species and in such a hard environmental as the High Andes, but when I check a camera trap and have at least one picture of this beautiful creatures, or when I been able to capture one, or been one of the few people who seen one, I feel that all the effort that I made, worth it.
I think that it is important to devote efforts to the Andean cat because this very charismatic animal can help creating conservation awareness in local people and protecting the entire High Andes ecosystem and it is amazing wildlife.


describe the work that your current organization does: I have a postdoc position at the Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, focus on the study of two endangered cats, the Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) and the Pampas cat (L. colocolo) in Argentinean High Andes.
  I am also a member of the Andean cat Alliance (AGA) which is a multinational and interdisciplinary network funded in 1999 by professionals from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru to develop coordinated actions for the conservation of the Andean cat and its habitat. AGA’s vision to promote the conservation and long term maintenance of Andean cat populations and its habitat, in harmony with human populations. AGA as a whole and our project in particular, has dedicated a large effort to ecological research and educational activities.
  The research and educational project in Argentina started in 2003 trying to generate base line information about the distribution and basic biology of these unknown felids. Work with local communities is an important part of the project given that we think that improving the environmental awareness of the local people is the key for the environment survival. 
I joined AGA in 2010, I been working in one of the Argentinian projects. I am focused on research and work with local communities but also collaborate in educational activities.  Since 2010 I have been working to understand the habitat use of the Andean and Pampas cat in Northwestern Argentina, using camera traps and radio-collars as part of my PhD thesis, which I finished last year.
  A few months ago I started my Postdoc project with the objective of identify the most suitable habitat for Andean and Pampas cat, in an area of the Argentinean High Andes near some communities interested in develop ecotourism activities. The objective is to identify priority areas for cat’s conservation and compare them with projections of land use by humans for the following years and use both tools to develop a strategy that favors biodiversity as well as allowing development of local economy.d

describe what is the most unique and the most challenging about the conservation/GIS work that you do: I am working with an extremely rare and charismatic species, the Andean cat is considered one of the world’s least know cats and the rarest felid in South America. It has been proposed that the main threats to its conservation are habitat fragmentation and loss, hunting and prey reduction. But even if the amount of studies has been increasing in the last few years the lack of information on basic biology is the most significant restrains to design conservation actions.
Although the Pampas cat has a lower conservation priority, a much larger distribution range and greater abundances than Andean cat some of the issues previously mentioned are applicable also to this species, and particularly to its High Andes populations . A better knowing of these carnivore requirements will be highly valuable in the identification of conservation areas and the well based management decisions.
The Andean cat inhabit the high Andes, a region with extreme weather conditions, the study area altitude ranges from 3200 to 5800 m of elevation and topography is very broken, with a large amount of canyons and cliffs. Because of its high altitude receives high solar radiation and is subject of high temperature variation, from 35 C to -20 C at night. Climate is arid and cool, with little rainfall mainly in form of snow and hail. Al these climate conditions make the field work much more difficult.   Information about the type and quantity of resources needed to sustain those high Andean carnivore populations is critical to preserve them. Since resources are not evenly distributed knowing which kind of habitat is preferred by determinate species is a key parameter to study.
Identify of high priority areas for conservation is the first step in the planning for a species’ survival. Additionally we will develop a much needed tool to estimate the presence of carnivores in the High Andes, that can potentially be used for monitoring and creation of distribution maps based on presence-absence data.  I am conscious that long term conservation cannot be achieved without the support of local people. For this reason, we have also developed a community participation component, aiming to build conservational awareness in local people and knowledge about the importance of carnivores for the ecological processes they are involved in. As a part of that component of the project local communities demonstrate interest in the creation of a protected area and in develop eco-tourism activities inside our study area; I think that the habitat suitability maps are needed to discuss with the communities about the selection of areas most appropriate for the different types of human activities and land uses. So this project is going to have an immediate application in conservation actions that will benefit the High Andes ecosystem. Going to something more specifically related to the GIS work that I been doing, I found that the roughness measurement as has been quite a challenge, and given that according to my habitat models is one of the most important environmental characteristics for the cats habitat use I really need to have that variable. I tried to calculate different roughness indexes using an ASTER DEM, but I think that maybe I do not have the necessary resolution or I am not using the most efficient method, since the results seems to be realistic in some areas but look off in others. At the moment I am doing roughness measurements on the field to compare with different remote methods to determine which is the most accurate for my study. Having this variable calculated for all the study area will allow me to model the cats occupancy and then map it over the area entire area. 


2016 ABSTRACT: (Session: "Endangered Species Methods 2: Save the Cats!") The Andean and Pampas cat (Leopardus jacobita and L. colocolo) are two closely related small felids sharing a number of ecological and morphological characteristics. The Andean cat shares all its distribution range with the Pampas cat and is affected by the same conservation threats within that area. The IUCN categorizes the Andean cat as Endangered and the Pampas cat as Near Threatened. Both species are poorly known, although in the last years there was an increase in the amount of studies focused on them. The main objectives were to determine the home range size of individuals of both species and evaluate the spatial overlap between them species using GPS-collars, in an area in the High Andes of Jujuy province, Argentina. After 148 days of live trapping, five Andean cats and four Pampas cats were capture. We put GPS-collars to four individuals of each species; due to technical failures in the collars we did not obtain as many data as we should have (obtaining data of three individuals of each specie). The sizes of home ranges of both species were larger than expected on the basis of the allometric function relating this parameter to carnivore body masses. The average home range sizes for the Andean cat were 79.89 Km2 (Minimum Convex Polygon), 46.89 Km2 (Kernel 95%), and 13.16 Km2 (core area: Kernel 45%). The Pampas cat had home range sizes of 20.52 km2, 14.86 km2, and 5.08 km2, respectively. The average home range overlaps estimated by the Kernel 95% were 59.63% for the Pampas cat, 58.1% for the Andean cat, and 53.98% between species; using the Kernel 45% overlaps were 48.9%, 45%, and 45.77%, respectively.