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Home-Range and Habitat Selection by Adult Cougars in Southern California

Brett G. Dickson and Paul Beier
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 66, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 1235-1245
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802956
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802956
Page Count: 11
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Home-Range and Habitat Selection by Adult Cougars in Southern California
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Abstract

Understanding the impact of habitat fragmentation, roads, and other anthropogenic influences on cougars (Puma concolor) requires quantitative assessment of habitat selection at multiple scales. We calculated annual and multiyear home ranges using a fixed-kernel (FK) estimator of home range for 13 adult female and 2 adult male radiotagged cougars that were monitored October 1986 through December 1992 in the Santa Ana Mountain Range of southern California, USA. Using compositional analysis, we assessed diurnal use of vegetation types and areas near roads at 2 orders of selection (second- and third-order; Johnson 1980). Mean annual and multiyear 85% FK home ranges for males were larger than those reported by previous studies in California. Mean wet-season 85% FK home ranges were significantly larger than those of the dry season. At both scales of selection and across seasons, cougars preferred riparian habitats and avoided human-dominated habitats. Grasslands were the most avoided natural vegetation type at both scales of selection. Although cougar home ranges tended to be located away from high- and low-speed 2-lane paved roads (second-order avoidance), cougars did not avoid roads within their home range, especially when roads were in preferred riparian areas. Protection of habitat mosaics that include unroaded riparian areas is critical to the conservation of this cougar population.

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