Mountain Lion Population Characteristics

As one of the most elusive wildlife species in North America, mountain lions pose a challenge for biologists to understand their population dynamics.  To understand how mountain lion populations will respond to differing levels of management, we are gathering data on birth rates, survival, mortality factors, immigration, emigration, age and gender composition, and population density.

We will assess birth rates by monitoring productivity of radioed females.  Once dens sites are located, kittens will be radioed and monitored with lightweight, expandable radiocollars.       Survival rates and mortality factors will be estimated for the radiocollared mountain lions.  Mountain lion immigration/ emigration will be determined based on movements to and from the study site.  We will garner age and gender data from our trapped samples, depredation reports, and from camera traps throughout the study area.  We will use camera traps, genetic techniques, and capture data to compare population estimates of mountain lions in the Davis Mountains. 

While our capture efforts are ongoing, so far we have been able to catch and radio 11 mountain lions in the Davis Mountains.  We have caught 4 kittens, 3 subadults, and 4 adults. 

From that radioed sample, we have accumulated almost 10,000 radiolocations and documented 2 mortalities of radioed animals, both of dispersing subadults.

 

camera

Remote cameras allow us to detect mountain lions in our study site. The proportion of marked (radioed) to unmarked mountain lions will enable us to estimate their population size.

 

kitten

Wildlife populations gain members through birth and immigration and lose members through death and emigration. By monitoring adult female mountain lions and their young we are able to document birth rates, kitten survival, and recruitment.