Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Go west, young lion: New study shows mountain lions dispersing from Nevada to California

Date:
October 9, 2012
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
A new study has identified two genetically distinct populations of mountain lions in California and Nevada and discovered -- to the surprise of scientists -- that portions of Nevada's Great Basin Desert are serving as a "source" for animals moving west to the Sierra Nevada mountains shared with California.

This is a female mountain lion captured and collared in western Nevada for the field component of study.
Credit: Jake Willers

Using data collected over the course of seven years, the study looked at DNA in tissue samples collected from 739 mountain lions. In the first-of-its-kind study at this scale, the authors used only the gathered genetic information to discover population structures and history, and to identify what areas in the region serve as "sinks" (habitat that animals move to at a greater rate than they disperse from) and "sources" (areas that animals disperse from at a greater rate to live elsewhere).

The study, "Identification of Source-Sink Dynamics in Mountain Lions of the Great Basin" appears online in August's early-view edition of the journal Molecular Ecology. Authors of the study include: Alyson M. Andreasen of the University of Nevada; Jon P. Beckmann of WCS; and Matthew L. Forester, William S. Longland, and Kelley M. Stewart of the University of Nevada.

The scientists expected to see an influx of lions from California, where lions are not hunted, into Nevada where mountain lion hunting is allowed and leaves vacant territories for outside lions to claim. The opposite occurred. Lions mostly moved in a north and south direction following the topography of the many mountain ranges throughout the area, resulting in distinct genetic populations. However, when moving between populations in an east or west direction, the results suggested that more lions moved west from Central Nevada to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, than vice versa -- potentially taking advantage of better habitat quality.

Study author and University of Nevada PhD student Alyson Andreasen said, "The results are surprising and telling in that in most situations where you have hunting, the animals move in the direction of the resultant vacant territories. While this appears to be occurring in other areas of the state, habitat differences between the Sierra Nevada and the arid Great Basin may be attracting dispersal age mountain lions west into California whereas the abrupt ecotone may act as a barrier for lions residing in the Sierra Nevada."

Study co-author and WCS Scientist Jon Beckmann said, "In this case, a hunted population is the source for the non-hunted/protected population. This is somewhat counterintuitive: Some might think that in remote mountainous terrain of Nevada, the impacts of hunting on lion populations would outweigh those associated with more people and roadways in the Sierra of California but this appears to not be the case."

The scientists are currently working on questions arising from this study and on studies to discern how mountain lions interact with other species and select habitat in the region.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alyson M. Andreasen, Kelley M. Stewart, William S. Longland, Jon P. Beckmann, Matthew L. Forister. Identification of source-sink dynamics in mountain lions of the Great Basin. Molecular Ecology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05740.x

Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Go west, young lion: New study shows mountain lions dispersing from Nevada to California." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121009093231.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2012, October 9). Go west, young lion: New study shows mountain lions dispersing from Nevada to California. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121009093231.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Go west, young lion: New study shows mountain lions dispersing from Nevada to California." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121009093231.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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