Feeding and spatial ecology of mountain lions in the Mendocino National Forest, California

Maximilian L. Allen, L. Mark Elbroch, David S. Casady, Heiko U. Wittmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Between 2010 and 2012, we studied the feeding and spatial ecology of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in the Mendocino National Forest, California, a single-ungulate system in which their main prey were blacktailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). Mountain lions displayed relatively high ungulate kill rates (x¯ = 1.07 ungulates/week, and x¯ = 5.78 kg/day), and also displayed individual variation in diet composition. The majority (77.6%) of deer ≥1 year old killed by mountain lions were in fair or better condition despite possible observed selection towards deer in older age classes (≥9 years old). Analyses of hunting behavior indicated that prey types were killed in varying proportions among different time periods, with fawns more frequently killed during diurnal hours. We also found differences in habitat characteristics between kill sites and subsequent feeding sites, with feeding sites lower in elevation, flatter in slope, and with greater canopy density. Individual 95% fixed kernel home ranges varied between 102 and 614 km2. Estimated population densities of mountain lions including known kittens were comparatively low (0.68 mountain lions/100 km2).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalCalifornia Fish and Game
Volume101
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Black-tailed deer
  • Diet composition
  • Home range
  • Kill rate
  • Mountain lion
  • Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
  • Population density
  • Puma concolor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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