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Puma predation on radiocollared and uncollared bighorn sheep

DOI: 10.1186/1756-0500-2-230

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Abstract:

Three pumas killed 23 bighorn sheep over the course of the study, but they did not preferentially prey on marked (radiocollared) versus unmarked bighorn sheep. Predation occurred primarily during crepuscular and nighttime hours, and 22 kill sites were identified by the occurrence of 2 or more consecutive puma GPS locations (a cluster) within 200 m of each other at 1900, 0000, and 0600 h.We tested the "conspicuous individual hypothesis" and found that there was no difference in puma predation upon radiocollared and uncollared bighorn sheep. Pumas tended to move long distances before and after kills, but their movement patterns immediately post-kill were much more restricted. Researchers can exploit this behaviour to identify puma kill sites and investigate prey selection by designing studies that detect puma locations that are spatially clustered between dusk and dawn.Pumas (Puma concolor) are known predators of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in North America, but puma behaviour and movements associated with these predation events are poorly understood. Ross et al. [1] found predation on Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep to be an individual behaviour in Alberta, and Logan and Sweanor [2] and Ernest et al. [3] also presented evidence for differences in the frequency that individual pumas killed desert bighorn sheep in the southwestern United States. Although these studies identified individual pumas that selectively killed bighorn sheep, they left important questions unanswered. During ongoing studies of pumas and endangered bighorn sheep in the Peninsular Ranges of California, we radiocollared 3 pumas (1 female and her 2 offspring) who subsequently each killed multiple bighorn sheep (total ≥ 23). This gave us the opportunity to critically evaluate whether or not pumas selectively preyed on radiocollared versus uncollared bighorn sheep (because marked animals are more conspicuous), and to examine movement patterns at and around bighorn sheep kill sites.The Peninsular Rang

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