Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Seasonal influences help guide cougar prey selection

Date:
November 30, 2010
Source:
Allen Press Publishing Services
Summary:
As predators, cougars tend to select prey animals that are weaker and easier to attack during certain seasons, according to results of a new study.

As predators, cougars tend to select prey animals that are weaker and easier to attack during certain seasons, according to results of a new study.
Credit: iStockphoto/Marcia Straub

As predators, cougars tend to select prey animals that are weaker and easier to attack during certain seasons, according to results of a new study.

Related Articles


The study is outlined in an article featured in the September 2010 issue of The Journal of Wildlife Management, published by The Wildlife Society.

The authors' study of cougar predation from 1998 to 2008 in west-central Alberta, Canada, aimed to answer four questions: •How many ungulates, or hooved animals, do cougars kill? •How does season influence cougar predation? •What effect does cougar population structure have on predation rates? •Do cougars target vulnerable prey?

During the study, the researchers immobilized and then fitted cougars with GPS radiocollars for tracking purposes that were programmed to obtain a location at 2- or 3-hour intervals, or 8 to 12 times a day. They used this information to identify GPS cluster sites that also were likely predation sites and then visited the sites to identify any animal remains as predation or scavenging events. This added up to about 3,700 GPS location clusters and more than 1,500 predation events.

"Although previous research has applied GPS telemetry to estimate cougar kill rate, estimates were obtained using models and not continuous monitoring," according to the researchers. "In this study, we attempted to census cougar predation on ungulates over the duration each cougar was monitored."

Potential ungulate prey in the region includes elk, moose, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats, while nonungulate prey includes beaver, porcupine, snowshoe hare, and grouse. The study found that wild ungulates were the most common prey, with white-tailed deer the most common.

"Cougars exhibited significant seasonal shifts in prey composition," they write. "Cougars in west-central Alberta killed primarily female ungulates just before, during, and just after the birthing period (April-June), males just before and during the rut (September-November), and focused predation on juvenile ungulates in spring consistent with the reproductive and juvenile vulnerability hypotheses, reinforcing the notion that cougars select for vulnerable prey."

According to the authors, "Our kill rate estimates indicate that adult cougars are highly effective predators, killing at rates at the upper end of those recorded for wolves in both frequency and biomass."

The authors also note that while cougars are able to kill large prey such as adult moose and feral horses, they often choose smaller animals, probably because of the lower risk of these attacks.

"Our estimates of cougar kill rate and our findings concerning the influence of season, demography, and prey vulnerability on cougar predation patterns can be applied to better interpret and anticipate cougar-ungulate dynamics," the authors conclude. "Our results also have application for cougar harvest management where cougar impacts on ungulate populations are cause for concern."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Allen Press Publishing Services. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kyle H. Knopff, Aliah Adams Knopff, Andrea Kortello, Mark S. Boyce. Cougar Kill Rate and Prey Composition in a Multiprey System. Journal of Wildlife Management, 2010; 74 (7): 1435 DOI: 10.2193/2009-314

Cite This Page:

Allen Press Publishing Services. "Seasonal influences help guide cougar prey selection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101119200728.htm>.
Allen Press Publishing Services. (2010, November 30). Seasonal influences help guide cougar prey selection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101119200728.htm
Allen Press Publishing Services. "Seasonal influences help guide cougar prey selection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101119200728.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins