Habitat preference and use by the cougar (Puma concolor)

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2019-04-24

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Abstract

Cougars (Puma concolor) are widespread in the western US, penetrating even into the edges of inhabited and developed areas. Despite their widespread distribution, many aspects of their lives remain unquantified and poorly studied. To explain the factors that influence cougar behavior, I adapted methods used for the African Lion and field data and movement metrics from USGS to designate behavioral states of cougars to GPS locations. Fitting a Bayesian multinomial model, I explain cougar behavior based on vegetation and visibility- the amount of visible area at a point, accounting for the amount of daylight- as well as elevation and land cover. The model explains a third of the variation in the data, but considerable individual variation makes differentiating between behaviors difficult. Visibility likely plays a role in cougar behavior, but additional research is necessary to fully identify all the factors that drive cougar behavior.

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Bischoff-Mattson, Sky (2019). Habitat preference and use by the cougar (Puma concolor). Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18385.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.