L. Mark Elbroch

L. Mark Elbroch
Panthera · Puma Program

PhD Ecology

About

91
Publications
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Introduction
Mark Elbroch is the Director of Panthera's Puma Program. His research is primarily behavioral and community ecology, and conservation biology, with mountain lions as model species.

Publications

Publications (91)
Article
Full-text available
Mortality site investigations of telemetered wildlife are important for cause‐specific survival analyses and understanding underlying causes of observed population dynamics. Yet, eroding ecoliteracy and a lack of quality control in data collection can lead researchers to make incorrect conclusions, which may negatively impact management decisions f...
Article
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Wildlife managers make difficult decisions about how best to ensure sustainable wildlife populations. This is especially contentious in the absence of accurate abundance data. Currently, many managers rely upon harvest metrics to monitor mountain lion abundance and to set management objectives. We analysed mountain lion harvest data from 2005 to 20...
Article
Kill rates and functional responses are fundamental to the study of predator ecology and the understanding of predatory-prey dynamics. As the most widely distributed apex predator in the western hemisphere, pumas ( Puma concolor ) have been well studied, yet a synthesis of their kill rates is currently lacking. We reviewed the literature and compil...
Article
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1. Wildlife managers require defensible and transparent population estimates to justify species management. 2. Statistical population reconstruction (SPR) is being widely adopted to estimate wildlife population sizes from hunter harvest data. 3. We assessed factors influencing variation in SPR population estimates produced for bobcats in Wyoming, U...
Article
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1. The puma Puma concolor is the fourth largest wild felid and the most widespread native terrestrial mammal of the Americas. We synthesised published literature documenting the biotic interactions of pumas, in order to: 1) advance our understanding of the ecological roles pumas play in natural systems, and 2) support strategic decision-making abou...
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Species assemblages often have a non‐random nested organization, which in vertebrate scavenger (carrion‐consuming) assemblages is thought to be driven by facilitation in competitive environments. However, not all scavenger species play the same role in maintaining assemblage structure, as some species are obligate scavengers (i.e., vultures) and ot...
Article
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Noise is the non-target search results that people encounter when searching for a particular topic of interest; it is also the cloud of distracting data that can obscure or deflect conservation communication. Online noise associated with large carnivores is particularly dense because their defining characteristics make them salient. Mountain lions...
Article
1. Statistical modeling of animal movement is of critical importance. The continuous trajectory of an animal’s movements is only observed at discrete, often irregularly spaced time points. Most existing models do not allow inactivity periods such as resting or sleeping. 2. The recently proposed moving-resting (MR) model is a Brownian motion governe...
Article
Predator tourism is one strategy to improve tolerance for predators, and support biodiversity and ecosystem health. Torres del Paine National Park (TdP)-a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in southern Chile-supports productive livestock industries and nascent puma tourism. We compared interviews conducted in the region prior to puma tourism, with results fr...
Article
Human activity and land use change impact every landscape on Earth, driving declines in many animal species while benefiting others. Species ecological and life history traits may predict success in human-dominated landscapes such that only species with "winning" combinations of traits will persist in disturbed environments. However, this link betw...
Article
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In response to recent discussion about terminology, we propose “tracking science” as a term that is more inclusive than citizen science. Our suggestion is set against a post-colonial political background and large-scale migrations, in which “citizen” is becoming an increasingly contentious term. As a diverse group of authors from several continents...
Article
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Wildlife tourism benefits apex predators in numerous ways, including providing contributions to scientific inquiry. Here we report novel observations of puma Puma concolor families consuming lesser rhea Rhea pennata pennata eggs ob- served during predator tourism. Such pay-off based (i.e. immediate reward) social learning could cascade within the l...
Article
The interspecific interactions of apex predators are integral to the function of ecological communities, but most studies have focused on understanding their top down effects. Kleptoparasitism (the stealing of procured food) by dominant scavengers can have negative effects on populations and behaviors of apex predators. We captured 7 pumas (Puma co...
Article
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Carrion is an energy‐rich resource that benefits many organisms, but scavenging involves both profits and risks. Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are forest‐specialists that scavenge large carcasses but quantitative assessments of their scavenging are lacking. We quantified three characteristics of scavenging behavior by fishers: (a) whether fishers visi...
Article
Top-down effects of apex predators are modulated by human impacts on community composition and species abundances. Consequently, research supporting top-down effects of apex predators occurs almost entirely within protected areas rather than the multi-use landscapes dominating modern ecosystems. Here, we developed an integrated population model to...
Article
Top-down effects of apex predators are modulated by human impacts on community composition and species abundances. Consequently, research supporting top-down effects of apex predators occurs almost entirely within protected areas rather than the multi-use landscapes dominating modern ecosystems. Here, we developed an integrated population model to...
Preprint
Full-text available
A bstract Kill rates and functional responses are fundamental to the study of predator ecology and the understanding of predatory-prey dynamics. As the most widely distributed apex predator in the western hemisphere pumas ( Puma concolor ) have been widely studied yet a biogeographical synthesis of their kill rates is currently lacking. We reviewed...
Article
Full-text available
Brownian motion whose infinitesimal variance changes according to a three-state continuous-time Markov Chain is studied. This Markov Chain can be viewed as a telegraph process with one on state and two off states. We first derive the distribution of occupation time of the on state. Then the result is used to develop a likelihood estimation procedur...
Article
Full-text available
Female–female sexual behaviors have been recorded in many species across several taxa, but their infrequency except in a few species has resulted in continued speculation about their function and potential evolutionary consequences. Here, we report two observations of female–female mounting in wild puma populations representing two sub-species from...
Preprint
Full-text available
Statistical modeling of animal movement is of critical importance. The continuous trajectory of an animal's movements is only observed at discrete, often irregularly spaced time points. Most existing models cannot handle the unequal sampling interval naturally and/or do not allow inactivity period such as resting or sleeping. The recently proposed...
Article
Full-text available
en Livestock is the predominant biomass in terrestrial systems around the world, and conflict with livestock inventories continues to threaten large carnivore persistence in increasingly fragmented habitats. Nevertheless, social tolerance for large carnivores is increasing, as is interest in predator tourism, which can facilitate wildlife–livestock...
Article
We tested for plague ( Yersinia pestis ) in a puma population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) over 9 years, overlapping a case when a boy in the area became infected with plague. Antibodies to Y. pestis were detected in 8 of 17 (47%) pumas tested by complement-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and the organism itself was detected in 4 o...
Article
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A Brownian motion whose infinitesimal variance alternates according to a telegraph process is considered. This stochastic process can be employed to model a variety of real-word situations, such as animal movement in ecology and stochastic volatility in mathematical finance. The main goal is to develop an estimation procedure for the underlying mod...
Article
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Puma-livestock conflict has occurred for 150 years in the Patagonia of southern Chile. During the last four years, Panthera and Hofstra University have collaborated to initiate a long-term study to investigate the ecology of the Patagonia puma (Puma concolor) in southern Chile, partially funded by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Wildlife...
Article
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Many predators specialize on one or several prey species that they select from the range of potential prey. Predator specialization on primary versus alternative prey is driven in part by encounter rates with prey and a predator’s habitat selection. Although habitat selection changes with behavioural state, this has not been well‐recognized in the...
Article
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Humans have been controlling carnivore numbers for centuries. Predator hunting, however, may indirectly influence predator‐prey dynamics unintentionally by influencing the age‐ and sex‐structure of predator populations that exhibit intraspecific (IS) variation in prey selection. We tested for IS in a small population of pumas in the Greater Yellows...
Article
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Ecosystem engineers create physical changes in abiotic and biotic material, and through this process control the availability of resources for other species. Predators that abandon large portions of their prey may be ecosystem engineers that create habitat for carrion-dependent invertebrates that utilize carcasses during critical life-history perio...
Article
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Hunting results in direct numerical effects and numerous indirect effects on game species. One indirect effect occurs when a female is killed; and as a consequence, her dependent offspring die, negatively affecting recruitment rates. The mountain lion (Puma concolor) is a hunted species across much of its range. It is almost always illegal to harve...
Article
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Carrion is a rich, ephemeral resource vital to biodiversity and ecosystem health. In temperate ecosystems in which cold temperatures and snowfall influence the accessibility and availability of small prey and seasonal mast crops, carrion may also be a limiting resource for mesocarnivores like red foxes ( Vulpes vulpes ), which are too small to pred...
Article
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Humans are primary drivers of declining abundances and extirpation of large carnivores worldwide. Management interventions to restore biodiversity patterns, however, include carnivore reintroductions, despite the many unresolved ecological consequences associated with such efforts. Using multistate capture–mark–recapture models, we explored age‐spe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Brownian motion whose infinitesimal variance changes according to a three-state continuous time Markov Chain is studied. This Markov Chain can be viewed as a telegraph process with one on state and two off states. We first derive the distribution of occupation time of the on state. Then the result is used to develop a likelihood estimation procedur...
Article
Full-text available
Background Interspecific competition affects species fitness, community assemblages and structure, and the geographic distributions of species. Established dominance hierarchies among species mitigate the need for fighting and contribute to the realized niche for subordinate species. This is especially important for apex predators, many of which si...
Article
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Global positioning system (GPS) technology has revolutionized the study of carnivores. Researchers commonly estimate kill rates with GPS data using the following steps. Firstly, researchers mark individual animals and fit them with GPS collars. Next, they visit a subset of "GPS clusters" (aggregated location data) during field surveys and assign sp...
Article
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Context Many institutions of wildlife management and their hunting constituents tend to value ungulates over large carnivores, in part due to financial incentives associated with ungulate hunting over carnivore hunting. This system benefits from mythology that presents large carnivores as competitors for antlered male ungulates most prized by the h...
Article
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As technology has improved, our ability to study cryptic animal behavior has increased. Bed site selection is one such example. Among prey species, bed site selection provides thermoregulatory benefits and mitigates predation risk, and may directly influence survival. We conducted research to test whether a subordinate carnivore also selected beds...
Data
Descriptive analysis of winter bed sites at the microsite level We examined microsite characteristics of 80 winter bed sites from eight cougars. Here we provide the percentage of beds occurring in each attribute type: habitat type, topography, aspect, percent slope, percent canopy cover, percent concealment, ‘on feature’ (whether or not the bed was...
Data
Descriptive analysis of summer bed sites at the microsite level We examined microsite characteristics of 60 summer bed sites from six cougars. Here we provide the percentage of beds occurring in each attribute type: habitat type, topography, aspect, percent slope, percent canopy cover, percent concealment, ‘on feature’ (whether or not the bed was w...
Article
Full-text available
Ecotourism enhances conservation management, promotes non-consumptive use of wildlife, and increases local community resources over that of select individuals when compared with consumptive uses such as hunting or trapping. The bobcat is a cryptic mesocarnivore widely exploited for pelts across North America, and a species increasingly contributing...
Article
Carrion promotes biodiversity and ecosystem stability, and large carnivores provide this resource throughout the year. In particular, apex felids subordinate to other carnivores contribute more carrion to ecological communities than other predators. We measured vertebrate scavenger diversity at puma (Puma concolor) kills in the Greater Yellowstone...
Article
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Cost-benefit trade-offs for individuals participating in social behaviors are the basis for current theories on the evolution of social behaviors and societies. However, research on social strategies has largely ignored solitary animals, in which we assume that rare interactions are explained by courtship or territoriality or, in special circumstan...
Article
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Predators likely assess their risk of injury with regards to hunting different prey types, while deciding whether to initiate an attack or to avoid dangerous prey. Risk-taking is age-, stage- and state-dependent, and foraging theory predicts that juvenile predators, individuals of lower social rank, and less-experienced predators that are hungry ar...
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Much of our understanding of the effects top predators play in structuring ecological communities are from studies documenting ecological changes following the recovery or reintroduction of large carnivores. Reintroduced predators, for example, may create unanticipated competition scenarios that influence local carnivore guilds. Here, we tested whe...
Article
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Livestock depredation by carnivores is a leading cause of human-felid conflict worldwide. In Chilean Patagonia, the traditional practices of free-range sheep grazing suffer significant livestock losses that are predominantly attributed to pumas Puma concolor. The escalating puma-livestock conflict in this area prompted us to examine the perceptions...
Article
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Many species have been increasingly recognized as an aggregate of individual dietary specialists. Previous work has emphasized the importance of individual dietary specialization in driving many ecological processes, but less is known about the relationship between individual diet and habitat use. We used data from 7 cougars and 331 predation event...
Article
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One hundred seventy-seven of 245 terrestrial carnivores are described as solitary and much of carnivore ecology is built on the assumptions that interactions between adult solitary carnivores are rare. We employed GPS technology and motion-triggered cameras to test predictions of land-tenure territoriality and the resource dispersion hypothesis in...
Article
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Predation is inherently risky, and Cougars (Puma concolor) are occasionally injured while hunting prey. Between 2001 and 2015, we documented the cause of death of 59 Cougars (22 subadults and 37 adults) in the Southern Yellowstone Ecosystem, Wyoming. Here we report on 2 animals (9% of subadult mortalities) killed as a result of complications after...
Article
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Encounter competition is interference competition in which animals directly contend for resources. Ecological theory predicts the trait that determines the resource holding potential (RHP), and hence the winner of encounter competition, is most often body size or mass. The difficulties of observing encounter competition in complex organisms in natu...
Article
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Prey selection is exhibited by predator populations that kill a prey species disproportionate to its availability’ or alternatively’ individual predators that select prey disproportionate to the mean selection exhibited by their populations. Prey selection is a simple calculation when one can determine prey availability; however’ measuring prey ava...
Article
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Between 2010 and 2012, we studied the feeding and spatial ecology of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in the Mendocino National Forest, California, a single-ungulate system in which their main prey were black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). Mountain lions displayed relatively high ungulate kill rates (mean = 1.07 ungulates/week, and me...
Article
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Mate selection influences individual fitness, is often based on complex cues and behaviours , and can be difficult to study in solitary species including carnivores. We used motion-triggered cameras at 29 community scrapes (i.e. scent marking locations used by multiple individuals) and home range data from 39 GPS-collared pumas (Puma concolor) to a...
Article
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1.There are several alternative hypotheses about the effects of territoriality, kinship, and prey availability on individual carnivore distributions within populations. The first is the land-tenure hypothesis, which predicts that carnivores regulate their density through territoriality and temporal avoidance. The second is the kinship hypothesis, w...
Article
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Background: Niche differentiation may betray current, ongoing competition between two sympatric species or reflect evolutionary responses to historic competition that drove species apart. The best opportunity to test whether ongoing competition contributes to niche differentiation is to test for behavioral shifts by the subordinate competitor in c...
Article
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Pumas (Puma concolor) and black bears (Ursus americanus) are large carnivores that may influence scavenger population dynamics. We used motion-triggered video cameras deployed at deer carcasses to determine how pumas and black bears affected three aspects of carrion acquisition by scavengers: presence, total feeding time, and mean feeding bout dura...
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Den sites are critical resources that ultimately influ-ence the population dynamics of many species. Little is known about cougar den selection, even though dens likely play impor-tant roles in cougar fitness and kitten survivorship. Thus, we aimed to describe cougar den site selection in the Southern Yellowstone Ecosystem (SYE) at two scales (thir...
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One hypothesis for how carnivores with overlapping ecology coexist in natural systems is through heterogeneous competition land-scapes, in which subordinates utilize "competition refuges" to mitigate risks associated with dominant competitors. We tested for the effects of American black bear (Ursus americanus) kleptoparasitism on puma (Puma concolo...
Article
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We employed global positioning system (GPS) lo-cations of 18 marked cougars and genetic material from 68 cougars in the Southern Yellowstone Ecosystem to test our current assumptions about the social organization of this non-cooperative, solitary carnivore. We tested whether variable numbers of spatial associations over 7 years of our project could...
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Scavenging is a widespread behaviour and an important process influencing food webs and ecological communities. Large carnivores facilitate the movement of energy across trophic levels through the scavenging and decomposition of their killed prey, but competition with large carnivores is also likely to constrain acquisition of carrion by scavengers...
Article
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Cougars Puma concolor are described as ‘habitat generalists’, but little is known about which ecological factors drive their home range selection. For example, how do resource distributions and inter-species competition with dominant competitors (i.e. wolves, Canis lupus) over such resources, influence the distributions of cougars on the landscape?...
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Bioenergetic modeling is employed to estimate the energetic demands of many cryptic carnivores and their kill rates needed to meet their energetic requirements. We tested two prevalent assumptions driving energetic modeling of predator kill rates: (1) morphological and physiological information (weight, energetic demands of activity patterns) of in...
Article
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Direct effects of predators depend upon factors that can vary across seasons, including variations in the abundance and vulnerability of migrating prey. Past studies show conflicting results of whether puma (Puma concolor (L., 1771)) feeding ecology varies among seasons. We employed GPS collars to study puma feeding ecology in a single-prey system...