Article

# Cougar Dispersal Patterns, Metapopulation Dynamics, and Conservation

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## Abstract

We examined cougar ( Puma concolor) dispersal, emigration, and immigration in the San Andres Mountains, New Mexico, from 1985 to 1995 to quantify the effects of dispersal on the local population and surrounding subpopulations. We captured, tagged, and radio-collared animals to detect the arrival of new immigrants and dispersal characteristics of progeny. We found that cougars in southern New Mexico exhibited a metapopulation structure in which cougar subpopulations were separated by expanses of noncougar habitat and linked by dispersers. Of 43 progeny (n = 20 males, 23 females) studied after independence, only 13 females exhibited philopatric behavior. Males dispersed significantly farther than females, were more likely to traverse large expanses of noncougar habitat, and were probably most responsible for nuclear gene flow between habitat patches. We estimated that an average of 8.5 progeny (i.e., cougars born in the study area) successfully emigrated from and 4.3 cougars successfully immigrated to the San Andres Mountains each year. Concurrently, an average of 4.1 progeny were recruited into the San Andres cougar population. Protected cougar subpopulations can contribute to metapopulation persistence by supplying immigrants to surrounding subpopulations that are affected by fragmentation or offtake by humans. Cougar population dynamics and dispersal behavior dictate that cougar management and conservation should be considered on a regional scale.

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... In response to declines in predator populations and changes in wildlife management philosophy, cougars were reclassified from bounty animals to big game species during the mid-twentieth century (Ross et al. 1996;Sweanor et al. 2000;Gill 2009). In North America, bounty animals refer to species where compensation is provided for each individual killed. ...
... Stepping-stone dispersal assumes dispersing animals move through a mosaic of habitats from one suitable habitat patch to another (Baum et al. 2004;Kramer-Schadt et al. 2011;Saura et al. 2014). Cougars fit the steppingstone dispersal model as females disperse at lower rates and in shorter distances than males (Sweanor et al. 2000;Maehr et al. 2002;LaRue et al. 2012). ...
... All modeled corridors were well within known cougar dispersal capabilities. Subadult cougars can disperse > 1340 km and travel over > 10 km/ day (Beier 1995;Sweanor et al. 2000;Jenks 2005, 2010;Stoner et al. 2008;Henaux et al. 2011). Across all models, corridors had mean lengths < 1000 km. ...
Article
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Context Cougars (Puma concolor) have been recolonizing Midwestern North America during the past 3 decades with > 950 cougar confirmations east of established populations. Due to an increase in confirmations east of current breeding populations, evaluation of cougar habitat suitability and connectivity is needed. However, few studies have assessed the habitat potential for cougar recolonization in the eastern portion of their former range. Objectives We used various habitat quality thresholds to model potential cougar habitats and dispersal corridors throughout eastern North America. Methods Based on expert opinion, we used landcover, slope, human density, distance to roads, and distance to water as model variables. Least-cost path methods were used to model dispersal corridors from western populations to potential eastern habitat patches. Results Patches of suitable habitat ranged in size from 3868 km² (Ozark Mountains) to > 2,490,850 km² (central and eastern Canada). Potential habitats were predominantly forest and shrubland, contained little anthropogenic development, and had high stream densities. Dispersal corridors were present throughout the study area. Corridors largely consisted of forested and cultivated landscapes and had higher road densities than habitat patches. Conclusions Our research provides conservationists with insights into areas suitable for cougar recolonization so they may proactively plan for potential cougar populations east of their current range. This work also provides a framework for evaluating multiple levels of landscape suitability for recolonizing species.
... These anthropogenic mortality factors are thought to be additive to natural causes in western puma populations (Cooley et al. 2009, Robinson et al. 2014. Immigration and recruitment of philopatric female offspring help to maintain these populations over time (Lindzey et al. 1992, Sweanor et al. 2000, Cooley et al. 2009, Robinson et al. 2014). These researchers studied puma populations that were connected to other populations. ...
... Panther dispersal patterns are similar to puma elsewhere. Females tend to be philopatric (Ross andJalkotzy 1992, Sweanor et al. 2000) and males disperse longer distances (Beier 1995, Sweanor et al. 2000, Thompson and Jenks 2005, Hawley et al. 2016. Although most female puma establish use areas within or adjacent to their natal range, the longest documented female dispersal was 357 km, but the actual total estimated distance traveled was > 1341 km (Stoner et al. 2008). ...
... The longest documented male dispersal was > 2450 km when a young male traveled from the Black Hills puma population in South Dakota to Connecticut where the puma was killed by a vehicle (Hawley et al. 2016). Panther ages at independence and dispersal are consistent with puma studies elsewhere , Ross and Jalkotzy 1992, Beier 1995, Sweanor et al. 2000. ...
Technical Report
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This SSA evaluates the current status of the Florida panther as well as an assessment on the risk of extinction in the future. This SSA applies the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (the 3 R’s) to evaluate the current and future condition of the Florida panther. Resiliency, redundancy, and representation are interconnected and overlapping principles that collectively contribute to the viability of a species. We also introduce the concept of a fourth “R,” namely resistance, which describes the willingness of people to accept the species on the landscape. Outdoor recreationalists and rural residents may be concerned about sharing wild spaces with a large carnivore; livestock producers may be concerned about economic losses inflicted by predation; landowners may be concerned about whether regulatory burdens accompany panthers; and citizens in general may be concerned about costs associated with recovery initiatives. The SSA provides a compilation of the best available scientific information on the biological status of the Florida panther but it is not a decisional document (does not include any recommendations or decisions regarding the status of the listed entity). The SSA is, however, a stand-alone, science-focused assessment for use in policy-guided decisions under the ESA and to inform future Florida panther conservation and management efforts.
... These anthropogenic mortality factors are thought to be additive to natural causes in western puma populations (Cooley et al. 2009, Robinson et al. 2014. Immigration and recruitment of philopatric female offspring help to maintain these populations over time (Lindzey et al. 1992, Sweanor et al. 2000, Cooley et al. 2009, Robinson et al. 2014). These researchers studied puma populations that were connected to other populations. ...
... Panther dispersal patterns are similar to puma elsewhere. Females tend to be philopatric (Ross andJalkotzy 1992, Sweanor et al. 2000) and males disperse longer distances (Beier 1995, Sweanor et al. 2000, Thompson and Jenks 2005, Hawley et al. 2016. Although most female puma establish use areas within or adjacent to their natal range, the longest documented female dispersal was 357 km, but the actual total estimated distance traveled was > 1341 km (Stoner et al. 2008). ...
... The longest documented male dispersal was > 2450 km when a young male traveled from the Black Hills puma population in South Dakota to Connecticut where the puma was killed by a vehicle (Hawley et al. 2016). Panther ages at independence and dispersal are consistent with puma studies elsewhere , Ross and Jalkotzy 1992, Beier 1995, Sweanor et al. 2000. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report evaluates the current status of the Florida panther as well as an assessment on the risk of extinction in the future. This SSA applies the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (the 3 R's) to evaluate the current and future condition of the Florida panther. Also assessed is the concept of a fourth "R," namely resistance, which describes the willingness of people to accept the species on the landscape. The SSA provides a compilation of the best available scientific information on the biological status of the Florida panther, but it is not a decisional document. The SSA is a stand-alone, science-focused assessment for use in policy-guided decisions under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and to inform future Florida panther conservation and management efforts.
... It is one of the large carnivores of Neotropical ecosystems, and the only top predator for most of them, playing a key role in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Pumas have the ability to travel long distances (Elbroch et al. 2009;Hawley et al. 2016), which is extremely important for maintaining connectivity, especially when population dynamics rely on a meta-population structure (Beier 1995;Sweanor et al. 2000;Robinson et al. 2008;Elbroch et al. 2009). ...
... Except for females often exhibiting philopatry, which behavior could be related to the genetic association found among closer individuals (< 300 km) in northern Patagonia, dispersal of males appears to be mainly density-independent, as juveniles disperse out of their natal area regardless of population density (Sweanor et al. 2000). However, heavy exploitation of populations can decrease carnivore population sizes (Sinclair et al. 2001;Robinson et al. 2008) representing anthropogenic factors that inhibit or alter gene flow (Anderson et al. 2004). ...
... Intrinsic long-distance dispersal capacity is a behavioral feature of pumas, certainly representing an important signature of the species' evolutionary history. Altering this natural behavior may endanger populations' persistence (Beier 1995;Sweanor et al. 2000). Thus, preserving the habitat quality necessary to maintain gene flow is paramount to avoid loss of genetic diversity, particularly for genetically depauperated populations that depend on gene flow for successful rescuing from critically low levels of genetic diversity (e.g., Johnson et al. 2010;Riley et al. 2014). ...
Article
Understanding population structure and spatial distribution of genetic diversity is an important aspect of developing appropriate management plans for wildlife conservation, especially for large carnivores like the puma (Puma concolor). Human persecution and habitat degradation represent the main threats to the species’ conservation in Argentina, where its population genetics has been only marginally explored, and conflict with livestock is mainly managed by legally harvesting pumas. Combining microsatellite genotyping and mitochondrial DNA sequencing, we investigated patterns of puma population diversity and genetic structure in an area of northern Patagonia heavily disturbed by anthropogenic activities. Moreover, we explored effective population size and functional connectivity to assess if recent habitat modifications might have influenced puma genetics. Our results suggest the presence of two genetic clusters (based on microsatellites) and two different haplotypes, which exhibited a similar geographic separation. Despite the observed pattern of a decrease in genetic association among individuals with increasing geographic distance, we found asymmetric gene flow and non-homogeneously distributed diversity among populations, which could be explained by the effect of human disturbance on puma dispersal capacity. The low-density estimate and the sign of a recent significant bottleneck reinforce our inference. This research contributes to the basic knowledge of puma genetics required for planning conservation strategies that aim to ensure species persistence in northern Patagonia.
... Space use patterns may include dispersal (e.g., Bowler and Benton 2005;Almany et al. 2017), resident (e.g., Kamler and Gipson 2000;Hauser et al. 2007), seasonal shifts (e.g., Festa-Bianchet 1986;Phillips et al. 1998), and shifting home ranges (e.g., Doncaster and Macdonald 1991;Edwards et al. 2009). Dispersal is the unidirectional movement away from the natal range and is predominantly displayed by young individuals, particularly males, in search of a new territory and to reduce the risk of inbreeding (e.g., Sweanor et al. 2000;Bowler and Benton 2005). Residents have high fidelity to their home range and the reuse of an area may result in spatial familiarity, enhancing the individual's ability to locate resources or refuges (Krebs 1971;Switzer 1993;Switzer 1997;Janmaat et al. 2009). ...
... In areas of high harvest, infanticide is the leading cause of kitten mortality (Cooley et al. 2009;Wielgus et al. 2013). At 10 -33 months old, subadult cougars leave their natal range with males typically dispersing and females remaining philopatric or dispersing a short distance (Sweanor et al. 2000). ...
... Seasonal shifts in prey distribution or access to mates may result in cougars shifting their range to regions of greater resource availability (Johanssen et al. 2018). Many studies have examined cougar home range size (Ross and Jalkotzy 1992;Spreadbury et al. 1996;Sweanor et al. 2000;Maletzke et al. 2014;Elbroch et al. 2016), but scant information is available on the different space use patterns that occur and how these patterns vary by age and sex. ...
Article
Full-text available
The space use strategies animals use to acquire resources needed for survival and reproduction reflect life history traits and individual behaviors. For large solitary carnivores, such as cougars (Puma concolor), prey, mates, and safe habitat in which to raise offspring, are resources that influence space use. Most animal home range studies investigate differences between sexes but fail to explore the space use patterns among individuals. We first used 95% minimum convex polygon (MCP), kernel density estimate (KDE), and Brownian bridge estimator (BB), to estimate the home range of 43 cougars satellite-collared in west-central Alberta, Canada, in 2016–2018. We found that adult males (MCP = 498 km2; KDE = 623 km2; BB = 547 km2) had home ranges that were more than twice the size of those of adult females (MCP = 181 km2; KDE = 273 km2; BB = 217 km2). We then used net squared displacement, path segmentation analysis, and multi-response permutation procedure, to examine the space use patterns of 27 female and 16 male cougars. We constructed a decision tree and found that 23% of cougars were dispersers (12% of females and 44% of males), 47% were residents (58% of females and 31% of males), 9% were seasonal home range shifters (12% of females and 6% of males), and 19% shifted to a new area during the study period (19% of females and 19% of males). We learned that dispersers all were subadults, whereas all residents, seasonal shifters, and shifters, were adults, except for one subadult male. Our study provides insights on animal home ranges with methods to categorize different space use strategies which could be used to help assess the dynamics of a population.
... Considering that some puma reproductive behavior (communication and denning) may be affected by the proximity to urbanized areas [55], it remains to be clarified whether the coastal and intermediate depression sightings recorded in this study correspond to resident puma subpopulations or to non-resident animals bi-directionally transiting animals coming from the Andean zone. In a metapopulation framework, puma subpopulations separated by areas of non-or less-suitable habitat could be connected by dispersers, providing gene flow [47,56]. The ecological flexibility of pumas and their high dispersal capabilities can promote wide genetic connectivity across large geographic areas [57]. ...
... The dispersal of pumas is driven mainly by the search for food and reproductive partners in adults within their territories [10,11]. During the dispersion period of juveniles (between 1 to 2 years of age), the mother expulses her descendants from their birth territory, inducing them to search for their own [56]. It is mainly in this period when young inexperienced individuals may approach populated areas in search of food or to establish their own territories, and are subjected to the pressure of not being able to settle down or being expelled from territories already occupied by adult pumas. ...
... A planning scheme should aim to identify areas with the highest human-puma overlap probabilities and try to reduce interactions between pumas and people, focusing on management, education, and landscape planning [49,54]. Strategies should also secure protected wild areas from where carnivore populations can expand and migrate, and protect corridors for dispersal among subpopulations to ensure long-term metapopulation persistence, especially those subpopulations affected by fragmentation or offtake by humans [56]. In our study area in the O'Higgins region, there is one small, protected area located in the intermediate depression (Las Palmas de Cocalán National Park; 3700 ha) and one large protected area at high elevations in the Andes (Rio de Los Cipreses National Reserve; 36,800 ha). ...
Article
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The wildland–urban interface lies at the confluence of human-dominated and wild landscapes—creating a number of management and conservation challenges. Wildlife sightings near human settlements have appeared to increase in the last years. This article reports 51 records of presences, sightings, and livestock attacks of Puma concolor, a large-sized felid, collected from 2012 to 2020 across the O’Higgins region in central Chile. Puma records were concentrated in the east of the region in the Andes Range and foothills (90%). The number of puma records is higher in the last four to six years than in previously studied years. Of the 51 records, 23.5% are between 0 and 999 m from the nearest human settlement (classified as very close), 25.5% are between 1000 and 4999 m (moderately close), and 51% are over 5000 m (distant). Most of the sightings are recorded in the summer (35%) and spring (29%). We identify an area of approximately 9000 km2 of suitable habitat as the most probable corridor effectively connecting pumas moving between eastern and western areas, encompassing the Angostura de Paine mountain range. Our results contribute to the understanding of the presence and movements of P. concolor near urban areas and human settlements, confirming their persistence in and adaptation to human-dominated landscapes. We also provide insights into human–carnivore coexistence in the current global context in the densely populated central Chile.
... Long-distance dispersal can occur when the habitat is unsuitable or when suitable habitats are already occupied (Choate et al. 2018). In a Chihuahuan Desert environment in New Mexico surrounded by isolated mountain ranges, male mountain lions dispersed ~100 km on average from their natal range, while females only dispersed ~47 km (Sweanor et al. 2000). Average dispersal distances for mountain lions across multiple studies in North America was reported to be 110 km for males and 45.4 km for females (Choate et al. 2018). ...
... If the ratio between estimated population and annual harvest holds true for our region, the mountain lion population would be ~120-144 individuals (1.9-2.25 individuals per 100 km 2 ) in the San Pedro Valley and neighboring mountain ranges. These density estimates are similar to a comparable environment (San Andres Mountains) in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico (Sweanor et al. 2000). Harvest via depredation events are fairly low in the San Pedro Valley compared to nearby regions (Aravaipa-Klondyke area), so this estimate may be conservative (Cunningham et al. 2001). ...
Article
The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) protects approximately 60 linear kilometers (km) of the San Pedro River within the Madrean Sky Islands region of southeastern Arizona. This cottonwood-willow (Populus fremontii-Salix gooddingii) gallery forest habitat with perennial surface flow is unique from the Chihuahuan mesquite desert and supports a wide diversity of plant and animal life. Mountain lions (Puma concolor) were hypothesized to use the SPRNCA as a temporary habitat while moving between neighboring mountain ranges. Using remote camera traps located on desert washes that drain the Huachuca Mountains, we demonstrated that mountain lions use the riparian corridor as part of their resident home range. We recorded 53 independent observations (mean of 1.47 observations per 100 trap nights) of mountain lions with at least 30 minutes between sightings during our study between September 2019 and May 2021. Mountain lions were found using riparian habitat in all seasons and photos were taken of young kittens within 0.3 km of the San Pedro River. Preferred prey species (Coue’s white-tailed deer [Odocoileus virginianus couesi] and javelina [Pecari tajacu]) have been observed often within the SPRNCA. Future research should explore the connectivity and metapopulation structure of mountain lions within the SPRNCA and neighboring mountain ranges.
... Without these mitigation measures in place, cougars would undoubtedly be more reluctant to cross the busy highway. As a consequence they would be put at great risk of being hit by motor vehicles while in the valley during winter and moving to and from higher elevations the remainder of the year , Beier 1995, Sweanor, Logan & Hornocker 2000. ...
... Large carnivores are sensitive to the barrier effect caused by highways (Sweanor et al. 2000). Being able to effectively minimise these effects is essential, especially in areas where large carnivores are at risk from being extirpated. ...
... The only currently documented breeding population of cougars in the eastern USA is in Florida (Vickers et al., 2015). In contrast, cougar range in the western US has expanded since the 1960s (Sweanor et al., 2000), and populations have reestablished in states where previously extirpated (LaRue et al., 2012;Thompson and Jenks, 2010). For example, some populations on the eastern edge of western cougar range currently occur in South Dakota (Thompson et al., 2014), and North Dakota (Fecske, 2006), where the estimated carrying capacity was 30-60 individuals (Johnson, 2017). ...
... Modeled linkage lengths (1-242 km) were within reported dispersal distances for cougars (up to 400 km; e.g. Sweanor et al., 2000;Logan and Sweanor, 2001). Female-specific dispersal distances are typically lower (~112 km, range 20-357 km; LaRue and Nielsen, 2016), while greater distances for males (e.g. ...
Article
Cougars (Puma concolor) have lost substantial portions of their historical range yet increased sightings suggest potential for re-establishment in some regions; greater understanding of potential distribution and connectivity is necessary to make sound management and policy decisions. Specifically, the Great Lakes region of the USA will likely be an important area for cougar range expansion into the Midwest and Eastern USA. We used verified cougar observations to model and predict potential distribution and connectivity in the Great Lakes region. We compiled all confirmed observations of cougars from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (2010–2020); which resulted in 180 reports (154 images/videos, 20 signs, 6 mortalities). We developed an ensemble distribution model (1 km res) based on three machine learning methods. We used weighted cost-distances to identify linkages between core areas and circuit theory to model overall connectivity potential. We calculated selection ratios for land covers (30 m res) at fine and coarse scales. The ensemble distribution model had good performance (ROC of 0.94). Suitability was positively associated with increasing vegetation structure, lower distance to natural cover, and mid-high terrain ruggedness. Forest covers were always selected for regardless of scale, and human development was avoided only at the coarser scale. We identified 191 core patches and 362 linkages connecting them; only 50.1% of them were located within legally protected areas. We identified high regional connectivity in a generally west-east direction. Successful conservation of large carnivores like cougars will depend on conserving not only habitat patches and linkages but also efforts to facilitate long-term coexistence.
... Ecologically, a metapopulation -i.e., a population of populations -corresponds to a group of local connected populations of a species, the size of which changes in time due to microscopic factors such as the birth, death and migration of the individuals 1 When one only takes λ i /α i into consideration. 2 The Allee effect can be defined as the positive correlation between the absolute average individual fitness in a population and its size over some finite interval. It can be separated into its strong and weak versions. ...
... We have considered a survey at this scale because a small local population can imperil the species (e.g., by reducing mating) [1]. Besides being empirically observed [2,3,4], metapopulation approaches have set forth important results regarding ecological landscape dynamics in either homogeneous [5,6,7] or heterogeneous populations [8,9,10]. Our results show that the interplay between quasi-neutral competition between two species with different biological clocks, spatial constraints and diffusion in metapopulation is complex. ...
Article
Full-text available
We investigate the phenomenology emerging from a two-species dynamics under the scenario of a quasi-neutral competition within a metapopulation framework. We employ stochastic and deterministic approaches, namely spatially constrained individual-based Monte Carlo simulations and coupled mean-field ODEs. Our results show that the multifold interplay between competition, birth–death dynamics and spatial constraints induces a nonmonotonic relation between the ecological majority–minority switching and the diffusion between patches. This means that diffusion can set off birth–death ratios and enhance the preservation of a species.
... mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus) and the age and sex characteristics of the mountain lion (young males more often attack livestock) (Aune 1991, Hiller et al. 2015. Dispersing mountain lions are particularly hazardous to livestock since the demographic of mountain lions that are more likely to disperse is the same as that which is more likely to attack livestock (Sweanor et al. 2000). Identifying landscape features that can act as corridors for mountain lions to reach suitable habitat, or to access livestock populations, will be critical in mitigating this conflict. ...
... These features also seem important for mountain lion movement, as they prefer to move through riparian vegetation and tend to avoid more urban and open areas (Dickson et al. 2005). This tendency may not apply to dispersing males, however, which will travel over large expanses of unsuitable habitat (Sweanor et al. 2000). Mountain lions generally avoid anthropogenic features (paved roads and buildings), but may tolerate some amount of these features in rural areas (Knopff et al. 2014). ...
Article
The Great Plains biome supports biodiverse plant and animal communities, provides a wide array of ecosystem services, and is depended upon by agricultural economies. Despite these advantages, however, Great Plains grasslands are becoming increasingly degraded by landcover changes due to agriculture and urbanization, fragmentation, loss of biodiversity and invasion by woody species. Woody encroachment is a biome-wide threat to Great Plains plant and wildlife communities and is therefore managed, though with variable success. I investigated the efficacy of invasive tree management projects in restoring tallgrass prairies in southeast Nebraska and regenerating oak gallery forests along the Niobrara River. I measured plant community species composition and frequency at 9 sites in southeast Nebraska to quantify woody reinvasion of restored grasslands. Along the Niobrara River, I surveyed oak-planted plots and quantified oak survival and plant community abundance at 7 sites to determine success of restorations. In each case, restorations had mixed, but mostly negative results. Management decisions following initial treatment of invasive trees compromised the long-term success of restorations. Management is therefore a process, not an action, and must extend beyond initial treatment if restorations are to sustain native plant communities. I also studied habitat use of the newly establishing mountain lion (Puma concolor) as they recolonize Nebraska. I used radio-collar locations of 2 mountain lions to evaluate habitat preferences in a use-availability design. These mountain lions selected riparian woodlands, which will provide dispersal corridors and habitat for breeding populations as mountain lions recolonize the Midwest and eastern North America.
... Ecologically, a metapopulation -i.e., a population of populations -corresponds to a group of local connected populations of a species, the size of which changes in time due to microscopic factors such as the birth, death and migration of the individuals 1 When one only takes λ i /α i into consideration. 2 The Allee effect can be defined as the positive correlation between the absolute average individual fitness in a population and its size over some finite interval. It can be separated into its strong and weak versions. ...
... We have considered a survey at this scale because a small local population can imperil the species (e.g., by reducing mating) [1]. Besides being empirically observed [2,3,4], metapopulation approaches have set forth important results regarding ecological landscape dynamics in either homogeneous [5,6,7] or heterogeneous populations [8,9,10]. Our results show that the interplay between quasi-neutral competition between two species with different biological clocks, spatial constraints and diffusion in metapopulation is complex. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
We investigate the phenomenology emerging from a 2-species dynamics under the scenario of a quasi-neutral competition within a metapopulation framework. We employ stochastic and deterministic approaches, namely spatially-constrained individual-based Monte Carlo simulations and coupled mean-field ODEs. Our results show the multifold interplay between competition, birth-death dynamics and spatial constraints induces a nonmonotonic relation between the ecological majority-minority switching and the diffusion between patches. This means that diffusion can set off birth-death ratios and enhance the preservation of a species.
... Dada las extensas áreas de actividad de los pumas (Dickson y Beier, 2002;Grigione et al., 2002) y que no existen registros recientes en áreas cercanas a los Llanos de Ojuelos, ni comentarios de campesinos al respecto, el ejemplar registrado en Salitrillo podría ser un macho. Los machos tienen distancias de dispersión de bastantes decenas de kilómetros, a diferencia de las hembras que se dispersan a sólo unos pocos kilómetros de su área natal (Sweanor et al., 2000). Es posible que el ejemplar fotografiado tenga un área de actividad regional que incluya las serranías y mesas de las sierras de Chinampas (Jalisco) y su continuación a la de San Nicolás (Zacatecas), con manchones de bosque de encinos chaparros (Quercus spp.) y que los hábitats xeroriparios faciliten sus movimientos en la zona. ...
... En dicha región los pumas parecen vivir en metapoblaciones y su supervivencia a largo plazo podría depender de la posibilidad de moverse entre parches de hábitat adecuado. Esta conectividad entre manchones grandes podría depender incluso de la existencia de manchones pequeños de hábitat, los que, por ello, pueden ser muy importantes para la supervivencia de la especie (Sweanor et al., 2000). Nuestro registro de puma en un hábitat xeroripario, junto con registros en varias serranías circundantes, sugieren que el mismo proceso de metapoblaciones podría operar en la región. ...
... The impact of roads on wildlife has been the focus of many studies (Canters 1997;Evink et al. 1999;Forman et al. 2003). These studies show that roads affect wildlife in numerous ways (Reijnen and Foppen 1994;Vos and Chardon 1998;Sweanor et al. 2000). Apart from the most obvious direct impact of wildlife mortality, roads affect habitat by changing habitat condition and levels of connectivity. ...
Chapter
One of the biggest threats to the survival of many plant and animal species is the destruction or fragmentation of their natural habitats. The conservation of landscape connections, where animals, plants, and ecological processes can move freely from one habitat to another, is therefore an essential part of any new conservation or environmental protection plan. In practice, however, maintaining, creating, and protecting connectivity in our increasingly dissected world is a daunting challenge. This fascinating volume provides a synthesis on the current status and literature of connectivity conservation research and implementation. It shows the challenges involved in applying existing knowledge to real-world examples and highlights areas in need of further study. Containing contributions from leading scientists and practitioners, this topical and thought-provoking volume will be essential reading for graduate students, researchers, and practitioners working in conservation biology and natural resource management.
... There are also ways to scale local estimates to statewide estimates (e.g., Robinson et al. 2015, Beausoleil et al. 2021. A defensible management plan will also require that Texas mountain lion populations remain connected with each other, as well as with other mountain lion populations across state and international borders to ensure immigration and emigration (Sweanor et al. 2000, also see Karelus et al. 2021b which describes current work on the subject). ...
Article
Full-text available
Mountain lions, also called cougars, pumas and Florida panthers, are a wide‐ranging, large felid in the western hemisphere. Every U.S. state in which there are breeding populations of mountain lions offer the species some level of protection, except Texas. Here, we summarize historical research on mountain lions in Texas, human perceptions about the species, and historical discussions within Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) about mountain lion management obtained via the Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Ch. 552). To date, genetic research supports 2 distinct mountain lion populations, one west of the Pecos River and another in South Texas, which evidence suggests is suffering from isolation and is in immediate risk of extinction. Anthropogenic mortality rates in Texas are among the highest in the U.S., and well beyond the suggested harvest rates recommended to maintain stable mountain lion populations. Similarly, adult female mountain lion survival in Texas suggests that populations were likely declining when the studies were active. Internally, TPWD has repeatedly discussed initiating a mountain lion management policy, the benefits of requiring mandatory reporting for all mountain lion mortalities, as well as the unreliable nature of sightings data, which they have historically used as a metric for abundance. Public support, including among rural communities, is good for both mountain lions and TPWD. Ultimately, we present evidence to suggest that it is time to actively manage mountain lions in Texas and for the TPWD to create a management plan for the species. A management plan is both necessary to fulfill state mandates for the protection of nongame species, as well as to build a science‐based conservation strategy for the species. We summarize historical research on mountain lions in Texas, human perceptions about the species, and historical discussions within Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) about mountain lion management, to argue that the evidence makes clear that it is time to actively manage mountain lions in Texas. The creation of a defensible management plan is necessary to fulfill state mandates for the protection of nongame species, and to strengthen trust between TPWD and the public the agency serves.
... However, at larger scales (e.g. across a state or country's population) and across longer time periods, dispersal behaviours and metapopulation dynamics appear to buffer their populations against the long-term effects of hunting, at least in terms of the number of mountain lions on the landscape (Robinson et al., 2008;Stoner et al., 2006;Sweanor et al., 2000). ...
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 2016 across 10 U.S. states to determine mountain lion metapopulation trends. Our results were ambiguous and suggested conflicting population trends. Three hunting metrics indicated that the metapopulation was declining, two metrics could be interpreted as support for either an increasing or decreasing metapopulation and one metric indicated that the mountain lion metapopulation was stable. This ambiguity may indicate that some metrics better reflect carnivore abundance than others or that harvest metrics are a poor method for monitoring carnivore abundance. This is a concern because ambiguity in population trends may also fuel conflict between different stakeholder groups with different views of mountain lions. To avoid future ambiguity and to mitigate dissension among stakeholders, state agencies might consider a collaborative integrated population model to monitor mountain lions at a national scale. We analysed national mountain lion harvest indices to assess metapopulation trends. The results were ambiguous, and different indices suggested different trends. This ambiguity may fuel stakeholder conflict among those with different perspectives on mountain lions.
... Studies of scarce, cryptic, and wide-ranging species are often limited by the quantity of data that can be obtained under financial and logistical constraints (Smallwood and Fitzhugh 1995, Beier and Cunningham 1996, Balme et al. 2009). For studies of large carnivore population dynamics, including mountain lions (Puma concolor), the ideal approach is to capture, anesthetize, and fit individuals with GPS or VHF enabled collars to monitor movement, home ranges sizes and overlap, dispersal, and survival (Sweanor et al. 2000). Nonetheless, live capture and collaring of even a subset of a population is time consuming, expensive, and logistically difficult; few projects can afford to capture and tag a large proportion of the study population. ...
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Although genetic analysis is an increasingly affordable option for wildlife studies, obtaining high‐quality samples from cryptic carnivores remains difficult. To address this, we modified and tested 20.3‐cm (8‐inch) foot snares in unbaited trail sets for noninvasive collection of hair samples from mountain lions (Puma concolor). We deployed 22 hair traps in the Black Range in southern New Mexico from May to November 2017, monitored by remote cameras, at 66 locations for 1,618 trap nights (mean = 24.5 nights, SD = 7.2 nights). Photos indicated 20 instances of mountain lions passing within 2 m of a hair trap and we collected 7 mountain lion hair samples, which averaged >20 hairs/sample. All samples contained hair with visible roots and were identifiable to species; 6 of the 7 (85.7%) yielded sufficient DNA for individual identification. We attributed failure to obtain samples to 3 primary causes: individual trap saturation (2 instances), trap failure (2 instances), and non‐trigger events (9 instances). Black bears (Ursus americanus) and heavy rains were the primary sources of disturbance to hair trap sets, contributing to individual trap saturation and trap failure. We speculate that low trigger rates were associated with pan tension having been set too high in the first month of the study, as well as disturbance of hair traps or leading foot placements by nontarget species. We discuss strategies to increase hair sample collection rates, including seasonal use of hair traps, more selective placement on the landscape, and altering physical attributes of the hair traps. The quality of hair samples we collected and subsequent amplification rates indicated that, along with proper deployment strategies, hair traps are a viable tool for noninvasively collecting genetic material for individual identification of mountain lions and other elusive species. Modifications to 8 inch Belisle foothold cable‐loop throwers (Belisle Enterprises, Quebec, Canada) allow them to function as tools for noninvasive genetic sampling of mountain lion (Puma concolor) hair. We discuss strategies to increase hair sample yield at unbaited sampling stations and demonstrate high amplification rates of DNA for individual‐level identification.
... Identifying the demographic processes behind colonization events and range expansion is important for understanding the population dynamics of a species, particularly when such species have patchy distributions and exhibit strong site fidelity (Sweanor et al. 2000, Lesage et al. 2000, Matthiopoulos et al. 2005, Secor et al. 2009, Millsap 2018. This is especially true for seabirds, as colonization events can be rare, and successful establishment of new colonies is difficult in long-lived species with delayed sexual maturity, because local recruitment alone is typically not enough to sustain population growth (Oro and Ruxton 2001, Coulson 2002, Dunlop 2009). ...
Article
Understanding the mechanisms of site colonization and range expansion is crucial to understanding population dynamics, particularly for colonial seabirds that may struggle to shift their breeding ranges under climate change. We provide an alternative and simple approach to estimating the number of migrating individuals among colonies when original mark–recapture datasets are not available for use in more integrated and established methods. Here we fit an age-structured population model with published vital rates and breeding success rates to simple point counts of abundance using rejection-based approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) to estimate the contribution of immigration to four recently colonized Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) breeding sites on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. We found that sustained immigration over several years was required to generate the rapid population growth observed, with some sites even showing evidence of an accelerating immigration rate following initial colonization. We demonstrate that our method is capable of estimating the contribution of immigration to population growth in a species where mark–recapture datasets are unavailable. By leveraging census data that are relatively easy to obtain, our approach provides a new method for understanding how range expansions occur in species such as Antarctic penguins whose habitat is undergoing changing climate conditions.
... As apex predators, puma occur in low density and contact between adults (and potential transmission events) occurs mainly via mating or during territorial fights among males (although contact around food resources may be more common than previously thought 34 ). After becoming independent from their mothers at between 10 and 20 months of age, males nearly always leave their natal range whereas 50-80% of female offspring set up adjoining home ranges 35 . Evidence suggests that FIV pco is often transmitted via aggressive interactions, although vertical transmission is also possible 31,36 . ...
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Hunting can fundamentally alter wildlife population dynamics but the consequences of hunting on pathogen transmission and evolution remain poorly understood. Here, we present a study that leverages a unique landscape-scale quasi-experiment coupled with pathogen-transmission tracing, network simulation and phylodynamics to provide insights into how hunting shapes feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) dynamics in puma (Puma concolor). We show that removing hunting pressure enhances the role of males in transmission, increases the viral population growth rate and increases the role of evolutionary forces on the pathogen compared to when hunting was reinstated. Changes in transmission observed with the removal of hunting could be linked to short-term social changes while the male puma population increased. These findings are supported through comparison with a region with stable hunting management over the same time period. This study shows that routine wildlife management can have impacts on pathogen transmission and evolution not previously considered.
... Detection of outlier loci with RAD-seq is limited by the reduced representation of the genome, yet it has often been shown to be an effective approach (Catchen et al., 2017). Pumas are longdistance dispersers (Hawley et al., 2016;Sweanor et al., 2000) and ...
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... Additionally, we considered these individuals dispersers, but we recognize that they may have returned to their natal range had they survived. A true dispersal (for mountain lions and other large carnivores) may not be considered as complete until an animal settles and reproduces in a new home range (Greenwood, 1980); therefore, we cannot report true dispersal distances or compare to other reports of dispersal distances for mountain lions (Beier, 1995;Choate et al., 2018;Logan and Sweanor, 2001;Maehr et al., 2002;Stoner et al., 2013Stoner et al., , 2008Sweanor et al., 2000;Thompson and Jenks, 2010). However, these 3 individuals moved straight-line distances ranging from 40 to 134 km; they moved farther and were on longer duration trips than any of the exploratory trips made by the other collared mountain lions in our study. ...
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Local knowledge regarding the movements and space-use of large carnivores can inform species’ management, conservation planning, and strategies for reducing human-wildlife conflict. However, because issues regarding large carnivores can be controversial, obtaining such information may be difficult and therefore lacking in many places. Such is the case for mountain lions (Puma concolor) in West Texas, where most of the land is privately owned. Therefore, we sought to better understand movements and home ranges of mountain lions in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. We GPS collared 24 mountain lions (15 females, 9 males) between 2011 and 2017. We inspected variograms to distinguish dispersers from residents then we estimated movement metrics and home ranges using continuous-time movement models and autocorrelated kernel density estimation. Using generalized linear mixed models, we tested for seasonal differences in all movement and home range metrics. Of three subadults that dispersed, one had data appropriate for speed estimation; she exhibited faster speeds while dispersing than while exhibiting philopatric movements. Compared to adult resident males, adult resident females moved with slower average speeds (females: 11.82 ± 0.43 km/day; males: 20.36 ± 2.86 km/day), exhibited similar directional persistence in movement (females: 0.95 ± 0.14 hours; males: 1.12 ± 0.21 hours), crossed their home ranges in similar times (females: 5.76 ± 0.98 days; males: 7.07 ± 1.34 days), and used smaller home ranges than males (females: 283.83 ± 37.50 km²: males: 1077.95 ± 219.30 km²). Adults moved with slowest speeds in the cold-dry season; there were no seasonal effects on other estimates. Each individual’s successive seasonal home ranges were highly overlapped (0.95 ± 0.01). The mountain lions did not expand, contract, or shift their home ranges seasonally, which may be due to ample prey-availability and limited seasonal-shifts in prey distribution. Mountain lions used areas larger than most local ranches and tended to move across the landscape quickly. Together, our results indicate that mountain lions do not typically stay on one property for long which may have implications for conservation planning and species management.
... These findings illustrate that Interstate 70, which bisects the state into northern and southern regions, and the continental divide, which bisects the state into eastern and western regions, were not impermeable to viral transmission. This is consistent with previous reports that high elevation ridgelines did not limit viral spread but in contrast to reduced geneflow noted across the continental divide, attributed to the fact that pumas avoid high ridgelines and alpine environments (Sweanor et al., 2000;Gustafson et al., 2019;Trumbo et al., 2019). Additionally, Interstate 70 did not have an apparent effect on viral structuring. ...
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Monitoring pathogens in wildlife populations is imperative for effective management, and for identifying locations for pathogen spillover among wildlife, domestic species and humans. Wildlife pathogen surveillance is challenging, however, as sampling often requires the capture of a significant proportion of the population to understand host pathogen dynamics. To address this challenge, we assessed the ability to use hunter-collected teeth from puma across Colorado to recover genetic data of two feline retroviruses, feline foamy virus (FFV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIVpco) and show they can be utilized for this purpose. Comparative phylogenetic analyses of FIVpco and FFV from tooth and blood samples to previous analyses conducted with blood samples collected over a nine-year period from two distinct areas was undertaken highlighting the value of tooth derived samples. We found less FIVpco phylogeographic structuring than observed from sampling only two regions and that FFV data confirmed previous findings of endemic infection, minimal geographic structuring, and supported frequent cross-species transmission from domestic cats to pumas. Viral analysis conducted using intentionally collected blood samples required extensive financial, capture and sampling efforts. This analysis illustrates that viral genomic data can be cost effectively obtained using tooth samples incidentally-collected from hunter harvested pumas, taking advantage of samples collected for morphological age identification. This technique should be considered as an opportunistic method to provide broad geographic sampling to define viral dynamics more accurately in wildlife.
... However, mountain lions will also select dense vegetation cover-types like thick forests and riparian areas within topographically simple areas (Laundré and Hernández 2003, Dickson et al. 2005, Blake and Gese 2016. Due to their preference for cover, mountain lions are typically avoidant of roads, but their response to roads is also highly variable across different ecosystems (Belden and Hagedorn 1993, Sweanor et al. 2000, Dickson et al. 2005. ...
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Ungulate behavior is often characterized as a balancing of selection for forage and avoidance of predation risk. Within partially migratory ungulate populations, this balancing occurs across multiple spatial scales, potentially resulting in different exposure to costs and benefits between migrants and residents. We assessed how availability and selection of forage and risk from predators varied between summer ranges of migrant and resident mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus; a species in which individual migratory strategies are generally fixed for life) in 3 study areas in western Montana, USA, during summers 2017-2019. We hypothesized that mule deer would face a tradeoff between selecting forage and avoiding predation risk, and that mule deer exposed to greater forage at a given spatial scale would attenuate selection of forage and strengthen avoidance of predators at a subsequently finer scale. We also hypothesized that migration and residency would pose contrasting availability of forage and risk at a broad (summer range) spatial scale, driving alternate finer scale selection patterns of migrants and residents. We compared the availability of forage (in kilocalories/m2) and predation risk from wolves (Canis lupus) and mountain lions (Puma concolor) between summer ranges of each migratory strategy, then assessed how selection for those factors at the home range (2nd order) and within-home range (3rd order) scales varied across a range of forage availability using resource selection functions (RSFs). As forage availability increased among mule deer summer ranges and individual home ranges, selection for forage decreased at the 2nd order (P = 0.052) and 3rd order (P = 0.081), respectively, but avoidance of predators varied weakly. In one study area, summer range of residents contained lower forage and higher risk than summer range of migrants, but residents compensated for this disadvantage through stronger selection of forage and avoidance of risk at finer spatial scales. In the other two study areas, summer range of migrants contained lower forage and higher risk than residents, but migrants did not compensate through stronger selection for beneficial resources. The majority of mule deer in our study system were migratory, though the benefits of migration were unclear, suggesting partial migration may persist in populations even when exposure to forage and predation risk appears unequal between strategies.
... Landcover changes are currently the main threat to felids (Morrison Fig. 6 Priority areas for the conservation of felids when considering climate change, ranked from zero (lowest priority) to one (highest priority). Hatched areas belong to the G20 of emergent and developing countries IUCN 2015;Zanin et al. 2015b) and have increased the extinction risk of felids by reducing and isolating populations through habitat loss and fragmentation (see, for example, for Puma concolor- Sweanor et al. 2000, Balkenhol et al. 2014Panthera tigris-Tian et al. 2011Panthera leo-Dolrenry et al. 2014;Panthera onca-Zanin et al. 2015a;Haag et al. 2010). However, the relationship between climate and landscape changes goes beyond the similar effects on species because they are not independent events (Jia et al. 2019). ...
Article
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Climate changes may threaten the survival of felids by driving range shifts, altering the biogeographical characteristics of their existing range, and decreasing range overlap with protected areas. In this study, we investigate these threats and delineate priority areas for conservation by comparing current (1950–1999) with future (2080–2100) distribution predicted by climatic niche modelling. Distribution changes encompass centroid displacement of up to 1067 km, range contractions of up to 460 km², and fragmentation into up to 29 populations. Some felids may expand their distribution by up to 1016 km², which could facilitate the reconnection of isolated populations if appropriate management plans are implemented. The protected area network overlaps with just 5.85% of the current distribution of felids and would decline to 3.69% in the future scenario, necessitating an expansion of protected areas in areas of felids distribution. However, countries that are subject to the greatest landcover changes worldwide (e.g. Brazil, China, and India) are also home to the priority areas to felids conservation, underscoring the urgency and potential challenges of safeguarding felids.
... The maximum number of nearest neighbors to connect each kind of patch was eight, and we used a threshold of 100 km as the cost-weighted width cutoff value for the corridors. We selected this value because the three species have long dispersal movements; for example, a female Mexican wolf released in Mexico dispersed * 40 km in one day (unpublished data) and pumas dispersed an average of 50 km in 5-10 days (Sweanor et al. 2000, Choate et al. 2018. Subsequently, we reclassified each carnivore corridor in deciles from 1 to 10, where 10 representing best quality and lower cost of moving. ...
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ContextLarge carnivores are crucial to ecosystem functioning, as they enhance the biodiversity of the native communities in which they live. However, most large carnivores are threatened with extinction resulting from human persecution, habitat encroachment, and the loss of habitat connectivity.Objective To identify areas that favor landscape connectivity for three large carnivores within and between northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States.Methods We performed a habitat suitability analysis for puma (Puma concolor), Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), and black bear (Ursus americanus) by combining ecological niche modeling with anthropogenic variables to identify high-quality habitat patches to be connected. We also developed a connectivity analysis to identify smaller suitable habitat patches within connecting corridors to evaluate their contributions to connecting larger populations.ResultsWe found existing large, high-quality areas in Mexico and the United States that could connect through smaller patches. Likewise, we identified pinch-point areas, patches and links with high centrality, indicating that some biological corridors promote connectivity among the most extensive suitable patches.Conclusions It is possible to maintain and even enhance adequate landscape connectivity between major suitable habitat patches for the three large carnivores, within and between their distributional areas in Mexico and the United States. In this regard, decision-makers, academia, and civil society need to strengthen their bonds to reduce the pressure on these carnivores and help authorities improve binational plans and agreements to consolidate conservation actions and landscape connectivity between Mexico and the United States.
... When host gene flow and viral spread are decoupled, as was the case in the UB, the rapid accumulation of viral mutations may conversely obscure historical trends in connectivity 45 . This could explain why we detected no effect of tree cover on FIV pco spread even though puma are known to have a preference for tree cover to disperse and hunt 46,47 . The altered epidemiological history of the clade, dominant in the UB compared to all other detected clades, may reflect or be a consequence of relatively unrestricted spread in the UB (Fig. S3, FIV pco CO clade I). ...
Article
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Urban expansion can fundamentally alter wildlife movement and gene flow, but how urbanization alters pathogen spread is poorly understood. Here, we combine high resolution host and viral genomic data with landscape variables to examine the context of viral spread in puma ( Puma concolor ) from two contrasting regions: one bounded by the wildland urban interface (WUI) and one unbounded with minimal anthropogenic development (UB). We found landscape variables and host gene flow explained significant amounts of variation of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) spread in the WUI, but not in the unbounded region. The most important predictors of viral spread also differed; host spatial proximity, host relatedness, and mountain ranges played a role in FIV spread in the WUI, whereas roads might have facilitated viral spread in the unbounded region. Our research demonstrates how anthropogenic landscapes can alter pathogen spread, providing a more nuanced understanding of host-pathogen relationships to inform disease ecology in free-ranging species.
... Entre 1 e 3 anos de idade, os indivíduos podem ser classificados como subadultos, visto que são independentes da mãe, mas ainda não se reproduzem efetivamente . Nesta fase abandonam o território natal e buscam novas áreas para estabelecerem seus próprios territórios (ANDERSON JR et al., 2010) exibindo filopatria se forem fêmeas, estabelecendo seu território próximo ao da mãe, e se forem machos, dispersam para locais mais distantes (SWEANOR et al., 2000). Podem ter uma longevidade entre 8 e 10 anos, porém existem relatos de animais que viveram no mínimo 13 e 15 anos na natureza (HANSEN, 1992;RODRIGUES e AURICCHIO, 1994;CURRIER, 1983;MAZZOLLI, 2010). ...
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... In line with this suggestion, in the more strongly fragmented Swiss Alps (Schnidrig et al. 2016), female lynx were not observed to disperse distances larger than 40 km (Zimmermann et al. 2005). Likewise, in cougars (Puma concolor) living in fragmented habitats, males did disperse over substantially larger distances than females (Sweanor et al. 2000), and in a tiger (Panthera tigris) population in Chitwan National Park, Nepal, only males have been observed to cross larger areas of unfavourable habitat (Smith 1993). Even if females occasionally disperse to northern Hesse, our study suggests that these longdistance dispersals are too rare to compensate adverse demographic events (female mortality, failed reproduction). ...
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After having been extinct for approximately 200 years, the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is currently being reintroduced in several European countries. However, it still occurs in several local, isolated populations. Given the patchy distribution of its forest habitat within a human-dominated landscape, the formation of population stepping-stones, i.e., small lynx occurrences between source populations, has been suggested an important mechanism for the expansion of lynx in central Europe. We studied the population history of such a stepping-stone population, which emerged approximately 60 km southwest of a larger reintroduced population in central Germany. We also examined migrations of lynx between the source population and the stepping-stone. At the beginning of our study in autumn 2014, our study population consisted of a minimum number of six resident individuals of both sexes that successfully reproduced in the area. However, over the course of only a single year, this subpopulation declined to only a single resident male as a consequence of death and emigration. In the 4 years after this decline, the subpopulation did not recover due to the absence of female dispersal into the area. Our study illustrates the vulnerability of small, isolated populations to stochastic demographic events and suggests that constraints on female dispersal are a major reason for the slow expansion of lynx in central Europe. To promote the expansion of lynx, active population management will be required, involving the translocation of females to reinforce existing stepping-stone populations or to create new ones.
... Protected areas in central (Chiquibul Forest Reserve and National Park, Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve) and south-central (Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary) Belize formed one genetic cluster with several admixed individuals and dispersers from northern Belize (Fig 4C). Furthermore, our study also showed evidence for fine-scale genetic structure in female pumas, inferring that females living in close geographic proximity are on average genetically closely related, exhibiting short dispersal distances and female philopatry as described by other puma studies [102,103] and in mammals in general (e.g., [104,105]). In contrast, and different from jaguars, male pumas did not show evidence of positive spatial autocorrelation at any geographic distance tested, suggesting that dispersal in pumas across this landscape is male-biased, which is consistent with previous studies [106,107]. ...
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Background Connectivity among jaguar (Panthera onca) populations will ensure natural gene flow and the long-term survival of the species throughout its range. Jaguar conservation efforts have focused primarily on connecting suitable habitat in a broad-scale. Accelerated habitat reduction, human-wildlife conflict, limited funding, and the complexity of jaguar behaviour have proven challenging to maintain connectivity between populations effectively. Here, we used non-invasive genetic sampling and individual-based conservation genetic analyses to assess genetic diversity and levels of genetic connectivity between individuals in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Maya Forest Corridor. We used expert knowledge and scientific literature to develop models of landscape permeability based on circuit theory with fine-scale landscape features as ecosystem types, distance to human settlements and roads to predict the most probable jaguar movement across central Belize. Results We used 12 highly polymorphic microsatellite loci to identify 50 individual jaguars. We detected high levels of genetic diversity across loci (HE= 0.61, HO= 0.55, and NA=9.33). Using Bayesian clustering and multivariate models to assess gene flow and genetic structure, we identified one single group of jaguars (K = 1). We identified critical areas for jaguar movement that fall outside the boundaries of current protected areas in central Belize. We detected two main areas of high landscape permeability in a stretch of approximately 18 km between Sittee River Forest Reserve and Manatee Forest Reserve that may increase functional connectivity and facilitate jaguar dispersal from and to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Our analysis provides important insights on fine-scale genetic and landscape connectivity of jaguars in central Belize, an area of conservation concern. Conclusions The results of our study demonstrate high levels of relatively recent gene flow for jaguars between two study sites in central Belize. Our landscape analysis detected corridors of expected jaguar movement between the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Maya Forest Corridor. We highlight the importance of maintaining already established corridors and consolidating new areas that further promote jaguar movement across suitable habitat beyond the boundaries of currently protected areas. Continued conservation efforts within identified corridors will further maintain and increase genetic connectivity in central Belize.
... A consequence of this female philopatry is the spatial formation of adult female kin-clusters, a phenomenon evidenced by the strong spatio-genetic autocorrelation in female-female dyads in both SSGR and PMC. Matrilineal assemblages are typical among large, solitary carnivores, having been observed in brown bears (Ursus arctos; Støen et al., 2005), pumas (Sweanor, Logan, & Hornocker, 2001), and tigers (Panthera tigris; Smith, 1993;Goodrich et al., 2010;Gour et al., 2013). Strategies to deal with the costs of increased resource competition (for food and mates) implicit in this conservative dispersal by females are assumed to have evolved because of the increased inclusive fitness benefits that accrue-the so-called "resident fitness hypothesis" (Anderson, 1989;Lambin et al., 2001). ...
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Anthropogenic mortality of wildlife is typically inferred from measures of the absolute decline in population numbers. However, increasing evidence suggests that indirect demographic effects including changes to the age, sex, and social structure of populations, as well as the behavior of survivors, can profoundly impact population health and viability. Specifically, anthropogenic mortality of wildlife (especially when unsustainable) and fragmentation of the spatial distribution of individuals (home‐ranges) could disrupt natal dispersal mechanisms, with long‐term consequences to genetic structure, by compromising outbreeding behavior and gene flow. We investigate this threat in African leopards (Panthera pardus pardus), a polygynous felid with male‐biased natal dispersal. Using a combination of spatial (home‐range) and genetic (21 polymorphic microsatellites) data from 142 adult leopards, we contrast the structure of two South African populations with markedly different histories of anthropogenically linked mortality. Home‐range overlap, parentage assignment, and spatio‐genetic autocorrelation together show that historical exploitation of leopards in a recovering protected area has disrupted and reduced subadult male dispersal, thereby facilitating opportunistic male natal philopatry, with sons establishing territories closer to their mothers and sisters. The resultant kin‐clustering in males of this historically exploited population is comparable to that of females in a well‐protected reserve and has ultimately led to localized inbreeding. Our findings demonstrate novel evidence directly linking unsustainable anthropogenic mortality to inbreeding through disrupted dispersal in a large, solitary felid and expose the genetic consequences underlying this behavioral change. We therefore emphasize the importance of managing and mitigating the effects of unsustainable exploitation on local populations and increasing habitat fragmentation between contiguous protected areas by promoting in situ recovery and providing corridors of suitable habitat that maintain genetic connectivity. Unsustainable anthropogenic mortality of wildlife and fragmentation of the spatial distribution of individuals disrupts natal dispersal mechanisms, with long‐term consequences to genetic structure, by compromising outbreeding behavior and gene flow. Our study investigates this threat in African leopards, demonstrating novel evidence directly linking unsustainable anthropogenic mortality to inbreeding through disrupted dispersal in a large, solitary felid and exposes the genetic consequences underlying this behavioral change.
... After this, individuals may not return to the same patch for several days, and can range many hundreds of meters in search of new patches (Sato 2007). Such transient foraging is not uncommon in larger predators, which often move to new sites after a successful hunt (Sweanor et al. 2000;Valeix et al. 2011). Patch switching may arise if surviving prey at a kill site increase vigilance after a predation event, reducing the chance of a predator making another successful attack (Brown 1988(Brown , 1999. ...
Article
Disturbances such as fire reduce the structural complexity of terrestrial habitats, increasing the risk of predation for small prey species. The postfire effect of predation has especially deleterious effects in Australian habitats owing to the presence of invasive mammalian predators, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cat (Felis catus), that rapidly exploit burned habitats. Here, we investigated whether the provision of artificial shelter could alleviate the risk of predation perceived by two species of small marsupial, the dunnarts Sminthopsis hirtipes and S. youngsoni, in open postfire habitat in the sandridge system of the Simpson Desert, central Australia. We installed artificial shelters constructed from wire mesh that allowed passage of the dunnarts but not of their predators at one site, and measured and compared the perceived risk of predation by the dunnarts there with those on a control site using optimal patch-use theory (giving-up densities, GUDs). GUDs were lower near artificial shelters than away from them, and near dune crests where dunnarts typically forage, suggesting that the shelters acted as corridors for dunnarts to move up to the crests from burrows in the swales. Foraging was lower near the crest in the control plot. Two-day foraging bouts were observed in dunnart activity, with recruitment to GUD stations occurring a day earlier in the augmented shelter plot. Despite these results, the effects of the shelters were localized and not evident at the landscape scale, with GUDs reduced also in proximity to sparse natural cover in the form of regenerating spinifex grass hummocks. Mapping dunnart habitat use using the landscape of fear (LOF) framework confirmed that animals perceived safety near shelter and risk away from it. We concluded that the LOF framework can usefully assess real-time behavioral responses of animals to management interventions in situations where demographic responses take longer to occur.
... In den letzten Jahren haben sogenannte räumlich explizite Modelle, welche die Dynamik von Populationen mit der Komplexität realer Landschaften verknüpfen, zunehmend an Bedeutung gewonnen (Fahrig & Merriam 1985;Akçakaya & Atwood 1997;Ji & Jeske 2000;Root 1998). Viele solcher Modelle existieren für Pflanzenarten (Wiegand et al. 1999), einige für Vögel (Fahse et al. 1998;Letcher et al. 1998) oder Säuger (Thulke et al. 1999;Sweanor et al. 2000;. Für Insekten gibt es bislang nur wenige Ansätze (Brewster & Allen 1997; und speziell zur Dynamik und Ausbreitung von Laufkäfern gibt es bislang kaum Untersuchungen (Tischendorf 1997;Reuter 2001). ...
Article
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Context Maintenance of connectivity is a commonly recommended strategy for species management and conservation as habitat loss and fragmentation continues. Therefore, functional connectivity modeling is needed for species over large geographic areas. However, sex-specific functional connectivity is rarely considered, even though the results of such an analysis have the potential to influence applied management practices. Objectives We use a large (n = 1902) genetic dataset to identify population level and sex-specific functional connectivity for cougars in Washington, USA. Methods We conducted a landscape genetics analysis that pseudo-optimized resistance surfaces for the full sample of cougars as well as for male and female groups. We then modeled connectivity across the top performing resistance surfaces with resistant kernels. Results The top resistance surface for females had higher resistance and lower connectivity than the males and had more spatial variability. However, we also observed greater resistance to movement and a lack of connectivity for males in and around the Olympic Peninsula. The resistance surface and connectivity models for all cougars contained both the broad features of the male models and the more heterogeneous features of the female models, indicating the importance of both local and regional dispersal and breeding. Conclusions In species with sex-specific differences in movement and dispersal, accounting for these differences can be important for understanding functional connectivity. For cougars in Washington, this revealed depressed connectivity for males on the Olympic Peninsula which may indicate a more immediate management concern for the future of this population than previously thought.
Chapter
One of the biggest threats to the survival of many plant and animal species is the destruction or fragmentation of their natural habitats. The conservation of landscape connections, where animals, plants, and ecological processes can move freely from one habitat to another, is therefore an essential part of any new conservation or environmental protection plan. In practice, however, maintaining, creating, and protecting connectivity in our increasingly dissected world is a daunting challenge. This fascinating volume provides a synthesis on the current status and literature of connectivity conservation research and implementation. It shows the challenges involved in applying existing knowledge to real-world examples and highlights areas in need of further study. Containing contributions from leading scientists and practitioners, this topical and thought-provoking volume will be essential reading for graduate students, researchers, and practitioners working in conservation biology and natural resource management.
Article
The presence of large carnivores close to people poses unique challenges for wildlife managers working to maintain fully functioning ecosystems while simultaneously minimizing potential risks to public safety and private property. In western North America, cougar (Puma concolor) use of residential areas is relatively commonplace and has contributed to undesirable interactions with people. A common assumption is that cougar population growth translates into greater proximity to people and more interactions, but to our knowledge, direct evaluation of this assumption has not occurred. We used GPS telemetry locations and confirmed cougar–human interaction reports to construct single-sex Leslie matrices, utilization distributions, and a two-stage hurdle model within a Bayesian framework to investigate the effects of population trajectory on cougar use of residential areas and interactions with people in the wildland–urban interface of western Washington. We collected data during two time periods with different expected population growth rates, anticipating greater cougar use of residential areas and interaction levels during the period of increased growth. Contrary to our initial expectations, we did not detect meaningful differences in cougar presence in residential areas or number of interactions with humans between study periods. Instead, we documented consistent space use patterns by all demographic classes that seemed to be governed by different life-history strategies. Interactions with humans were largely a function of individual cougar behaviors during both study periods. The consistent presence of abundant, well-connected wildlands coupled with cougar dispersal likely mitigated the potential effects of population trajectory as the increased expected growth rate in Period 2 manifested primarily as subadult emigration via wildlands. We found that a source population does not necessarily translate into greater proximity to people and more interactions. Cougar management in wildland–urban environments would benefit from the application of strategies that address the complex interplay of biological and anthropogenic factors that contribute to cougar presence in residential areas and their likelihood of interacting with people.
Article
Typically, males of polygamous mammals are responsible for population connectivity and gene flow via dispersal, whereas females, showing stronger philopatry, strengthen local population stability and growth. These expectations can be disrupted by human disturbances; however, this possibility has been poorly examined in wide-ranging mammals that are important targets for conservation. By reviewing philopatry and dispersal in felids, we aimed to evaluate: 1) whether the sex-related patterns of philopatry and dispersal predicted for polygamous mammals are prevalent in felids, 2) possible major causes underlying each of these behaviours, and 3) if, and to what extent, anthropogenic disturbances can alter patterns of philopatry and dispersal in this animal lineage. We synthesised the available literature (n = 55 papers) comprising 12 species. Puma concolor was the most-studied species, followed by other large species. Both philopatry and dispersal were heterogeneously defined, depending on the study aim and the method employed (telemetry, camera trapping or molecular tools). Most species followed the predicted philopatric and dispersal patterns, and most study areas (76%) were under some type of anthropogenic disturbance drivers. Philopatry was linked to females’ higher dependency on the quality and availability of resources, and to their social dynamics, higher reproductive success, inclusive fitness and demographic aspects of population. Dispersal was frequently linked to competition for mates and resources, and inbreeding avoidance. However, some plasticity was observed in both philopatry and dispersal, especially under the presence of anthropogenic drivers. For example, hunting can create open territories, increasing the number of philopatric females and opportunistic philopatric males. Habitat fragmentation can increase population isolation and male dispersal distance, and the presence of anthropogenic or natural barriers can result in unsuccessful dispersal attempts. We postulate that human activities affect long-term population persistence in the Felidae, via disruption of sex-related patterns of spatial dynamics.
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The increasing extent of human-altered landscapes and associated human activities is projected to cause irreparable damage to biodiversity and ecosystem function by the end of the century. The conservation of species requires understanding the abilities and limitations of species persistence in modified landscapes and how this affects species population dynamics and connectivity between populations. The persistence of species in the face of altered habitat depends, in part, on the capacity of habitat patches to promote occupancy, and the ability of individuals to reach these patches and ensure fitness within them by balancing resources and threats despite the altered nature of the habitat. The distribution of animal populations across the landscape is the result of decisions individuals make in selecting and avoiding environmental characteristics over time. Carnivores interact strongly with other species and thereby have the ability to structure communities and ecosystems, often making them a focal species for conservation planning. Leopards (Panthera pardus) are the last free-roaming large carnivores in South Africa and, while they are considered highly adaptable to environmental changes, most leopard habitat exists outside protected areas, where they are increasingly threatened by habitat fragmentation and human-caused mortality. Their important ecological role and vulnerability to humans have raised concerns regarding the likelihood of carnivores to survive in human-altered landscapes. This thesis examines the behaviour of leopards in their environment, and how these behaviours influence leopard distribution, population structure and connectivity. This study found that conspecifics, sex-related differences and anthropogenic landscape features effect how leopards distribute themselves in the landscape, influence movement patterns, and shape their population structure. Sexes employed different strategies in selecting habitat and movement patterns, likely because of different reproductive- and conspecific avoidance strategies. Often habitat prediction modelling for solitary carnivores does not incorporate sex, and conspecifics’ locations and this research found these variables are important in leopard habitat selection and movement patterns. Male and female leopards, respectively, spent 70% iv and 40% of the time moving in long, straight movement patterns (inter patch behaviour). Inter patch behaviour is indicative of low resource areas, fragmented habitat, or areas with higher intraspecific avoidance and is employed to move quickly between habitat patches. Connectivity between habitat patches was reduced by human-associated features such as roads, and promoted by mountainous areas, rivers and protected areas, the latter being less affected by human-associated features. Despite the high occupancy of inter patch behaviour displayed by males, the leopard population in the region are genetically sub-structured into three subpopulations. While this population broadly conforms to a metapopulation model, gene flow between the three identified sub-populations shows low to moderate gene flow and requires management to ensure continued connectivity between these populations. These findings can contribute to improving leopard management policy at a landscape level to ensure this flagship species survives in heterogeneous environments.
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Chapter
Conservation of mammals in the coniferous forests of western North America has shifted in recent years from species-based strategies to community- and ecosystem-based strategies, resulting in an increase in the available information on mammalian communities and their management. This book provides a synthesis of the published literature on the role of forest mammals in community structure and function, with emphasis on their management and conservation. In addition to coverage of some of the charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk and moose, the book also provides a thorough treatment of small terrestrial mammals, arboreal rodents, bats, medium-sized carnivores, and ungulates. The unique blend of theoretical and practical concepts makes this book equally suitable for managers, educators, and research biologists who will find it a valuable reference to the recent literature on a vast array of topics on mammalian ecology.
Chapter
Conservation of mammals in the coniferous forests of western North America has shifted in recent years from species-based strategies to community- and ecosystem-based strategies, resulting in an increase in the available information on mammalian communities and their management. This book provides a synthesis of the published literature on the role of forest mammals in community structure and function, with emphasis on their management and conservation. In addition to coverage of some of the charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk and moose, the book also provides a thorough treatment of small terrestrial mammals, arboreal rodents, bats, medium-sized carnivores, and ungulates. The unique blend of theoretical and practical concepts makes this book equally suitable for managers, educators, and research biologists who will find it a valuable reference to the recent literature on a vast array of topics on mammalian ecology.
Chapter
Conservation of mammals in the coniferous forests of western North America has shifted in recent years from species-based strategies to community- and ecosystem-based strategies, resulting in an increase in the available information on mammalian communities and their management. This book provides a synthesis of the published literature on the role of forest mammals in community structure and function, with emphasis on their management and conservation. In addition to coverage of some of the charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk and moose, the book also provides a thorough treatment of small terrestrial mammals, arboreal rodents, bats, medium-sized carnivores, and ungulates. The unique blend of theoretical and practical concepts makes this book equally suitable for managers, educators, and research biologists who will find it a valuable reference to the recent literature on a vast array of topics on mammalian ecology.
Chapter
Conservation of mammals in the coniferous forests of western North America has shifted in recent years from species-based strategies to community- and ecosystem-based strategies, resulting in an increase in the available information on mammalian communities and their management. This book provides a synthesis of the published literature on the role of forest mammals in community structure and function, with emphasis on their management and conservation. In addition to coverage of some of the charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk and moose, the book also provides a thorough treatment of small terrestrial mammals, arboreal rodents, bats, medium-sized carnivores, and ungulates. The unique blend of theoretical and practical concepts makes this book equally suitable for managers, educators, and research biologists who will find it a valuable reference to the recent literature on a vast array of topics on mammalian ecology.
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While many species have suffered from the detrimental impacts of increasing human population growth, some species, such as cougars ( Puma concolor ), have been observed using human-modified landscapes. However, human-modified habitat can be a source of both increased risk and increased food availability, particularly for large carnivores. Assessing preferential use of the landscape is important for managing wildlife and can be particularly useful in transitional habitats, such as at the wildland-urban interface. Preferential use is often evaluated using resource selection functions (RSFs), but RSFs do not adequately account for the habitat available to an individual at a given time and may mask conflict or avoidance behavior. Contemporary approaches to incorporate landscape availability into the assessment of habitat preference include spatio-temporal point process models, step-selection functions, and continuous-time Markov chain (CTMC) models; in contrast with the other methods, the CTMC model allows for explicit inference on animal movement. We used the CTMC framework to model speed and directionality of movement by a population of cougars inhabiting the Front Range of Colorado, U.S.A., an area exhibiting rapid population growth and increased recreational use, as a function of individual variation and time-varying responses to landscape covariates. The time-varying framework allowed us to detect temporal variability that would be masked in a generalized linear model. We found evidence for individual- and daily temporal-variability in cougar response to landscape characteristics. Distance to nearest kill site emerged as the most important driver of movement at a population-level. We also detected seasonal differences in average response to elevation, heat loading, and distance to roads. Motility was also a function of amount of development, with cougars moving faster in developed areas than in undeveloped areas.
Chapter
Conservation of mammals in the coniferous forests of western North America has shifted in recent years from species-based strategies to community- and ecosystem-based strategies, resulting in an increase in the available information on mammalian communities and their management. This book provides a synthesis of the published literature on the role of forest mammals in community structure and function, with emphasis on their management and conservation. In addition to coverage of some of the charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk and moose, the book also provides a thorough treatment of small terrestrial mammals, arboreal rodents, bats, medium-sized carnivores, and ungulates. The unique blend of theoretical and practical concepts makes this book equally suitable for managers, educators, and research biologists who will find it a valuable reference to the recent literature on a vast array of topics on mammalian ecology.
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Mountain lions ( Puma concolor ) were once endemic across the United States. The Northeastern population of mountain lions has been largely nonexistent since the early 1800s and was officially declared extinct in 2011. This regionally extinct mountain lion is Pennsylvania State University’s official mascot, where it is referred to as the ‘Nittany Lion’. Our goal in this study was to use recent methodological advances in ancient DNA and massively parallel sequencing to reconstruct complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes of multiple Nittany Lions by sampling from preserved skins. This effort is part of a broader Nittany Lion Genome project intended to involve undergraduates in ancient DNA and bioinformatics research and to engage the broader Penn State community in discussions about conservation biology and extinction. Complete mtDNA genome sequences were obtained from five individuals. When compared to previously published sequences, Nittany Lions are not more similar to each other than to individuals from the Western U.S. and Florida. Supporting previous findings, North American mountain lions overall were more closely related to each other than to those from South America and had lower genetic diversity. This result emphasizes the importance of continued conservation in the Western U.S. and Florida to prevent further regional extinctions.
Chapter
Conservation of mammals in the coniferous forests of western North America has shifted in recent years from species-based strategies to community- and ecosystem-based strategies, resulting in an increase in the available information on mammalian communities and their management. This book provides a synthesis of the published literature on the role of forest mammals in community structure and function, with emphasis on their management and conservation. In addition to coverage of some of the charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk and moose, the book also provides a thorough treatment of small terrestrial mammals, arboreal rodents, bats, medium-sized carnivores, and ungulates. The unique blend of theoretical and practical concepts makes this book equally suitable for managers, educators, and research biologists who will find it a valuable reference to the recent literature on a vast array of topics on mammalian ecology.
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This publication was part. of a collaboration with Jaguar Conservancy NGO. It was probably the first project proposing contrite actions to maintain the connectivity of Jaguay population in the Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul in Yucatan Peninsula. The recommendations stated in this document have a great relevance in the context of Road Ecology and the implementation of Fauna Passes as a solution to keep ecosystem connectivity in fragmented landscapes by road and highways in Mexico.
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Globally, little is known about the dispersal abilities of carnivores, their survival in non-protected areas, and the connectivity between protected and non-protected populations. More than a decade of sighting data for 496 known African lions Panthera leo , with 189 individuals engaging in dispersing activities plus an exchange of cross-site information, has provided unique insight into connectivity and survival in unprotected and protected areas in Kenya. In particular, three individuals, across two generations residing solely in unprotected landscapes, demonstrated connectivity between three protected areas that, to our knowledge, have not previously been recognized as harbouring connected populations. These observations suggest that unprotected areas and the human communities that reside in them may successfully create corridors of tolerance that facilitate connectivity and the long-term persistence of lion populations, both within and outside protected areas.
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We compiled and analyzed 24 years (1972-1995) of verified incidents of mountain lions killing domestic animals (n = 2,663) to examine trend, distribution, and types of conflicts in California. To model the relationships between mountain lion depredation and various human activity and habitat factors, we tested 2 predictive models. Domestic sheep depredation in counties was significantly (P < 0.05) related to amount of suitable mountain lion habitat. We hypothesize that increasing domestic sheep depredation may reflect regional increases in the distribution and abundance of mountain lions. A regression model of percent pet depredation indicated a significant (P < 0.05) association with average annual new house development (1979-1993). Counties with significant pet depredation are in the same regions where public safety problems have occurred and reflect a radiation of human activity into mountain lion habitat. Mountain lion depredation data may be a useful index of regional mountain lion activity. Livestock and pet depredation problems are increasing in different regions of the state for different reasons; pet depredations are increasing the most rapidly. Pet depredation may be a useful indicator of mountain lion proximity to humans.
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There is little information on the spatiotemporal pattern of dispersal of juvenile cougars (Felis concolor) and no data on disperser use of habitat corridors. I investigated dispersal of radio-tagged juvenile cougars (8 M, 1 F) in a California landscape containing 3 corridors (1.5, 4.0, and 6.0 km long) and several habitat peninsulas created by urban growth. Dispersal was usually initiated by the mother abandoning the cub near an edge of her home range. The cub stayed within 300 m of that site for 13-19 days and then dispersed in the direction opposite that taken by the mother. Mean age at dispersal was 18 months (range 13-21 months). Each disperser traveled from its natal range to the farthest part of the urban-wildland edge. Dispersing males occupied a series of small (<30% the area used by ad M in the same time span), temporary (10-298 days) home ranges, usually near the urban-wildland interface, and often with its longest border along that edge. Each of the 3 corridors was used by 1-3 dispersers, 5 of the 9 dispersers found and successfully used corridors, and 2 dispersers entered but failed to traverse corridors. Dispersing cougars will use corridors that are located along natural travel routes, have ample woody cover, include an underpass integrated with roadside fencing at high-speed road crossings, lack artificial outdoor lighting, and have <1 dwelling unit/16 ha.
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We monitored size and composition of a southern Utah cougar (Felis concolor) population during 1979-87 to document the dynamics of this unhunted population and to test the hypothesis that cougars would regulate their density at a level below that set by prey abundance alone (Seidensticker et al. 1973). We captured cougars when detected during ongoing searches for sign in the study area. Resident adult cougar density remained relatively constant (0.37/100 km2) for the first 7 years but increased slightly in the last 2 years. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), the cougar's primary prey, increased over the 9 years, but magnitude of this increase was unknown. Results supported the hypothesis that cougar density is set by environmental features other than prey abundance alone. Adult resident females bred as young as 17 months and produced litters that averaged 2.4 kittens at an interval of 24.3 months.
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Twenty-two cougars (Felis concolor) were monitored by radiotelemetry between January 1979 and July 1981 in southern Utah. The population, comprised of resident, transient, and juvenile cougars, remained relatively constant during the study. Densities (0.3-0.5 cougars/100 km2) were considerably lower and home-area size of four resident females (685 km2, SE = 257, range = 396-1,454) and a single resident male (826 km2) were larger than reported for other areas. Home areas of resident females overlapped, but with the exception of family groups, close spatial associations were rare. Dispersal of male cubs appeared independent of resident adult density. Density of resident cougars was apparently regulated by a social pattern based on land tenure, but limited by the abundance of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), their principal prey.
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It has been proposed that inbreeding contributes to the decline and eventual extinction of small and isolated populations,. There is ample evidence of fitness reduction due to inbreeding (inbreeding depression) in captivity and from a few experimental, and observational field studies,, but no field studies on natural populations have been conducted to test the proposed effect on extinction. It has been argued that in natural populations the impact of inbreeding depression on population survival will be insignificant in comparison to that of demographic and environmental stochasticity,. We have now studied the effect of inbreeding on local extinction in a large metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia). We found that extinction risk increased significantly with decreasing heterozygosity, an indication of inbreeding, even after accounting for the effects of the relevant ecological factors. Larval survival, adult longevity and egg-hatching rate were found to be adversely affected by inbreeding and appear to be the fitness components underlying the relationship between inbreeding and extinction. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an effect of inbreeding on the extinction of natural populations. Our results are particularly relevant to the increasing number of species with small local populations due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
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Synthesizes empirical information for each large carnivore species in the Rocky Mountains regarding three basic mechanisms of resilience at different hierarchical levels: 1) behavioral plasticity in foraging behavior that ameliorates flux in food availability; 2) demographic compensation that mitigates increased exploitation; and 3) dispersal that provides functional connectivity among fragmented populations. With their high annual productivity and dispersal capabilities, wolves Canis lupus possess resiliency to modest levels of human disturbance. Cougars Puma concolor have slightly less resilience because of more specific requirements for stalking habitat and lower biennial productivity. Grizzly bears Ursus arctos horribilis possess much less resiliency because of their need for quality forage in spring and fall, their low triennial productivity, and the strong philopatry of female offspring to maternal home ranges. Wolverines Gulo gulo appear more susceptible to natural fluctuations in scavenging opportunities. By accelerating the rate and expanding the scope of disturbance, humans have undermined the resiliency mechanisms of large carnivores and have caused widespread declines. With their productivity and dispersal capability, wolves and cougars might respond adequately to refugia that are well distributed in several units across the landscape at distances scaled to successful dispersal. With their lower productivity and dispersal capability, grizzly bears and wolverines might fare better in a landscape dominated by larger or more contiguous refugia.
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I simulated population dynamics of cougars to predict the minimum areas and levels of immigration needed to avoid population extinction caused by demographic and environmental stochasticity for a period of 100 years. Under most plausible parameter values, the model predicted very low extinction risk in areas as small as 2200 km2, and (in the absence of immigration) increasing risk as area decreased below 2200 kM2. If as few as one to four animals per decade could immigrate into a small population, the probability of population persistence increased markedly. Thus a corridor for immigration will benefit a small population in an area where further loss of habitat will occur. The model was applied to the cougar population in the Santa Ana Mountain Range of southern California (2070 kM2, with about 20 adults). Field data support the model's conclusion that this population is demographically unstable There will be a high risk of extinction if the habitat is reduced to currently protected and connected areas (1114 km2). A movement corridor allowing immigration from the adjacent population and intra-range corridors would greatly enhance the prognosis. However, the last corridor for immigration has been degraded by recent human activity. Within the mountain range, cougars recently became extinct in a 75-km2 habitat fragment recently isolated by development, and cougars will become extinct in another 150-km2 of habitat if a Proposed housing project occludes a critical corridor Radio tracking bas confirmed use of this and other important corridors. Neither the model nor the field data alone would bave much influence in the face of development pressure, together they bave stimulated interest in restoring and protecting critical corridors in this range. Nonetheless, the long-term prognosis for this population is bleak, because 22 local governments review potential impact on a case-by-case basis.
Chapter
What is the minimum viable population (MVP) of a particular species? Besides the obvious implications for conservation, especially of endangered species, this question raises important issues in population biology. MVP obviously varies with demographic, life history and environmental factors, but also depends upon genetic load and genetic variability. This book addresses the most recent research in the rapidly developing integration of conservation biology with population biology. Chapters consider the roles of demographic and environmental variability; the effects of latitude, body size, patchiness and metapopulation structure; the implications of catastrophes; and the relevance of effective population size on inbreeding and natural selection. Other topics addressed include the role of decision theory in clarifying management alternatives for endangered species, and the opportunities for improved co-operation between agencies responsible for management. The book concludes with a forward-looking and plain-speaking summary on future research and its application for conservation practice.
Chapter
What is the minimum viable population (MVP) of a particular species? Besides the obvious implications for conservation, especially of endangered species, this question raises important issues in population biology. MVP obviously varies with demographic, life history and environmental factors, but also depends upon genetic load and genetic variability. This book addresses the most recent research in the rapidly developing integration of conservation biology with population biology. Chapters consider the roles of demographic and environmental variability; the effects of latitude, body size, patchiness and metapopulation structure; the implications of catastrophes; and the relevance of effective population size on inbreeding and natural selection. Other topics addressed include the role of decision theory in clarifying management alternatives for endangered species, and the opportunities for improved co-operation between agencies responsible for management. The book concludes with a forward-looking and plain-speaking summary on future research and its application for conservation practice.
Article
Population characteristics were estimated from June 1981 to July 1983 for a hunted mountain lion (Felis concolor) population occupying a $741-\text{km}^{2}$ study area in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming. Based on the capture-recapture of 46 lions and radio-telemetry, snow-tracking, and harvest data, winter population densities were estimated at 29 km2/lion (1981-82) and 22 km2/lion (1982-83). Sex ratios of 28 kittens and 22 adults did not differ (P > 0.05) from equality. Kittens, born primarily in autumn, comprised about 50% of the population each winter, and 11 postnatal litters averaged 2.7 kittens. Some juveniles dispersed at about 12-15 months of age; 5 were recovered 9-274 km from their natal areas. Two resident females bred at 13- and 19-month intervals. The age structure of both sexes was young, the oldest adult being about 7 years old. Observed mortality the 1st year was 27% of the total population and 0% the 2nd year; immigration apparently compensated for mortalities. Home areas of 4 resident females averaged 67 km2 and overlapped almost completely. Those of the 2 resident males overlapped slightly and averaged 320 km2. Male home areas overlapped several female home areas.
Article
A computer simulation program was used to examine interacting effects of genetic drift, mutation, immigration from outside populations, directional and balancing selection, and population subdivision on the loss of genetic variability from small, managed populations. Stochastic ewnts were simulated with a pseudo‐random number generator, and the genetic variation (expected heterozygosity) witbin and between populations was monitored in 25 populations for 100 generations. Genetic drift was the overriding factor controling the loss of genetic variation Mutation has no noticeable effect on populations of the size typically managed in zoos and nature preserves Immigration from a large source population can strikingly slow, halt, or even reverse the loss of genetic variation, even with only one or a few migrants per generation. Unless selection is stronger than commonly observed in natural populations, it is inefficient in countering drift when population sizes are on the order of 100 or fewer. Subdivided populations rapidly lose variability from within each sub‐population but retain variation across the subpopulations better than does a panmictic population. These results suggest that population managers should be concerned with the variation‐depleting effects of genetic drift, perhaps almost to the exclusion of consideration of selection and mutation Drift can be countered by the introduction of vety occasional immigrants or, less effectively, by division of the managed population into smaller breeding groups that interchange enough migrants to prevent unacceptably deleterious inbreeding within each subpopulation
Article
Demographic and genetic contributions from conspecific immigrants tend to reduce extinction rates of insular populations. The MacArthur-Wilson model of island biogeography is modified to provide for this effect of immigration on extinction, which we call the rescue effect. This new model predicts that when immigration rates are high relative to extinction rates, turnover rate is directly related to the distance between an island and the source of colonizing species. A field study of the distribution of arthropods among isolated plants supports the model.
Article
Harvest theory is examined with reference to spatially-structured population systems. Harvest from continuously-distributed populations, which usually are based on regulation of size of kill (numerical control), can be achieved by spatial controls through a mosaic of hunted and unhunted areas. Spatial controls can achieve high yields and avoid the hazards of overharvest that are common with harvest quotas without detailed population data (requiring only an estimate or index of harvest). Harvesting of metapopulations is examined and found to hold little prospect because of negative effects on dispersal required for recolonization of patches following local extinction.
Article
We studied characteristics of a hunted cougar (Felis concolor) population in southwestern Alberta between 1981 and 1989 to support development of a species management plan. Although most cougars did not maintain separate summer and winter home ranges, the size of these ranges varied. Mean summer and winter home ranges for female residents were 87 +/- 8.5 (SE) and 97 +/- 8.2 km2, respectively. Male home ranges were larger (P < 0.0001); summer and winter home ranges averaged 314 +/- 62.9 and 204 +/- 34.0 km2, respectively. Annual home ranges for females and males were 140 +/- 13.7 and 334 +/- 37.1 km2, respectively. Females with kittens used smaller (P = 0.001) home ranges than did lone females or females with juveniles (P = 0.0003); whereas home-range sizes of lone females and those with juveniles did not differ (P = 0.37). Population estimates increased from 21-26 in 1984 to 35-37 in 1988, primarily resulting from an increase in adult females and their dependent young. Densities varied from 2.7-3.3 cougars/100 km2 to 4.5-4.7 cougars/100 km2. Mean size of 27 litters was 2.2 +/- 0.1 kittens. Litters were born throughout the year but with a pronounced late summer peak. Six females gave birth to their first litters at a mean age of 30.0 +/- 1.8 months, and the average interval between successive litters (n = 12) for all females was 19.7 +/- 1.9 months. Mean age of independence was 15.2 +/- 0.5 months. Most cougars dispersed after independence, but 7 females established home ranges contiguous with their mothers' ranges. Annual mortality varied between 3 and 14% of the total population, with legal hunting being the most important cause. Non-dispersal of young females and fairly rapid population growth suggest that this cougar population rebounded quickly from depressed levels with a reduction in hunting pressure.
Article
Accurate estimation of effective population size is important in attempts to conserve small populations of animals or plants. We review the genetic and ecological methods that have been used to estimate effective population size in the past and suggest that, while genetic methods may often be appropriate for the estimation of Ne, and its monitoring, ecological methods have the advantage of providing data that can help predict the effect of a changed environment on Ne. Estimation of Ne, is particularly complex in populations with overlapping generations, and we summarize previous empirical estimates of Ne that used ecological methods in such populations. Since it is often difficult to assess what parameters and assumptions have been used in previous calculations, we suggest a method that provides a good estimate of Ne, makes clear what assumptions are involved, and yet requires a minimum of information. The method is used to analyze data from 14 studies. In 36% (5) of these studies, our estimate is in excellent agreement with the original, and yet we use significantly less information, in 21% (3) the original estimate is markedly lower, in 43% (6) it is markedly higher. Reasons for the discrepancies are suggested. Two of the underestimates involve a failure in the original to account for a long maturation time, and four of life overestimates involve problems in the original with the correction for overlapping generations.
Article
Populations of some endangered species have become so small that they have lost genetic variation and appear to have become fixed for deleterious genetic variants. To avoid extinction from this genetic deterioration individuals from related subspecies or populations may have to be introduced for genetic restoration i.e., elimination of deleterious variants and recovery to a normal level of genetic variation. I construct a general population genetics framework from which to evaluate the potential for genetic restoration, and I discuss its specific application to the Florida panther. The translocation of Texas cougars into the free-ranging Florida panther population has been recommended to genetically restore the Florida panther, a subspecies of Felis concolor that appears to have both a low level of genetic variation and low fitness. Specific recommendations recently given by a scientific panel are to introduce enough animals so that there is approximately 20% gene flow in the first generation of translocation and approximately 2–4% in the generations thereafter. I evaluated these recommendations in a theoretical population genetics framework and found that they should result in the removal of most detrimental genetic variation and an increase in the standing genetic variation without a high probability of loss of any adaptive Florida panther alleles. Unless the population of the free-ranging Florida panthers is very small, the planned translocation should result in genetic restoration of the Florida panther.
Chapter
This chapter reviews and analyzes the spread of the metapopulation concept to conservation biology and applications. The metapopulation concept has now been firmly established in population biology. Two key premises in this approach to population biology are that populations are spatially structured into assemblages of local breeding populations, and that migration among the local populations has some effect on local dynamics, including the possibility of population reestablishment following extinction. These premises contrast with those of standard models of demography, population growth, genetics, and community interaction that assume a panmictic population structure, with all individuals equally likely to interact with any others. The focus on metapopulations, combined with that on genetics, has led to the population and the species becoming the dominant levels of concern in conservation. It is striking that the recent explosion of interest in ecosystem management is quite antithetic to a primary interest in populations and to single species management. Ecosystem management and metapopulation models share a concern with landscapes and regions, rather than highly local settings, and one could imagine a landscape with a distribution of habitat patches that would maintain many metapopulations simultaneously.
Article
Biology Gary K. University of Georgia&apos;s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory C. Ronald Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia and Contributors
Article
Many species of birds and mammals are faithful to their natal and breeding site or group. In most of them one sex is more philopatric than the other. In birds it is usually females which disperse more than males; in mammals it is usually males which disperse more than females. Reproductive enhancement through increased access to mates or resources and the avoidance of inbreeding are important in promoting sex differences in dispersal. It is argued that the direction of the sex bias is a consequence of the type of mating system. Philopatry will favour the evolution of cooperative traits between members of the sedentary sex. Disruptive acts will be a feature of dispersers.
Article
Metapopulations are classically viewed as sets of populations persisting in a balance between local extinction and colonization. When this is true, regional persistence depends critically upon parameters influencing extinction and colonization rates, e.g. the number of habitat patches and populations, the rates and patterns of interpatch migration, and propagule establishment probabilities. A review of relevant empirical literature identifies few metapopulations which fit this description well. Instead, three qualitatively different situations are found to be more common: (1) mainland-island and source-sink metapopulations, in which persistence depends on the existence of one or more extinction-resistant populations; (2) patchy populations, in which dispersal between patches or sub-populations is so high that the system is effectively a single extinction-resistant population; (3) non-equilibrium metapopulations, in which local extinction occurs in the course of a species' overall regional decline. This suggests a modified view of metapopulation dynamics in which local extinction is more an incidental than a central feature.
Article
Predicting the extinction of single populations or species requires ecological and evolutionary information. Primary demographic factors affecting population dynamics include social structure, life history variation caused by environmental fluctuation, dispersal in spatially heterogeneous environments, and local extinction and colonization. In small populations, inbreeding can greatly reduce the average individual fitness, and loss of genetic variability from random genetic drift can diminish future adaptability to a changing environment. Theory and empirical examples suggest that demography is usually of more immediate importance than population genetics in determining the minimum viable sizes of wild populations. The practical need in biological conservation for understanding the interaction of demographic and genetic factors in extinction may provide a focus for fundamental advances at the interface of ecology and evolution.
Article
A mutation leading to a segregating site of a sample can be classified by the number of sequences in the sample that inherits the mutant nucleotide; it can also be classified by the frequencies of the two segregating nucleotides at the resulting segregating side. We define the size of a mutation to be the number of sequences in the sample that inherits the mutant nucleotide and the type of mutation (segregating site) to be the smallest value of the frequencies of segregating nucleotides. Each of these two classifications of mutations is analogous to allelic types in a sample of genes. Assuming the neutral Wright-Fisher model, we derived in this paper the mean and variance of the frequency of mutations of each size and type, and the covariance between the numbers of mutations of two different sizes and two different types. Potential applications of these results are discussed.
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Puma. Pages 347–377 in S. Dema-rais and P. Krausman, editors. Ecology and management of large mam-mals in North America
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Philopatry, inbreeding and the evolution of sex
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Cougars of the San Andres Mountains, New Mexico. Final report. Federal aid in wildlife restoration, project W-128-R
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The effects of dispersal and social structure on effective population size. Pages 287–321 in
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Jones, L. L. Rogers, J. P. Rood, and A. T. Smith. 1987. The effects of dispersal and social structure on effective population size. Pages 287–321 in B. D. Chepko-Sade and Z. T. Halpin, editors. Mammalian dispersal patterns: the effects of social structure on population genetics. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.