Puma predation on radiocollared and uncollared bighorn sheep
1 Wildlife Health Center, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
2 Conservation Biology Institute, Borrego Springs, CA, USA
3 California Department of Fish and Game, San Diego, CA, USA
BMC Research Notes 2009, 2:230 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-230Published: 18 November 2009
We used Global Positioning System (GPS) data from radiocollared pumas (Puma concolor) to identify kill sites of pumas preying upon an endangered population of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in southern California. Our aims were to test whether or not pumas selected radiocollared versus uncollared bighorn sheep, and to identify patterns of movement before, during, and after kills.
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.