Mountain Lion

Puma concolor

Biology 3

Pumas are solitary cats, with the exception of one to six day associations during mating periods and contact between females and their young (8). Males occupy large territories that overlap those of several females; the boundaries of the territory are marked by scrapes left in prominent positions (3). Females advertise their receptivity to mating with loud scream-like calls (5). Mating occurs year-round, but is concentrated from December to March in northern latitudes (8). The female gives birth to her litter of between one and six kittens within a den; the kittens are initially blind and helpless, remaining in the den whilst their mother forages for food (3) (8). At around two months of age they are able to accompany their mother on hunting forays and remain with her until around 1.5 to 2 years old (9). Pumas are primarily nocturnal and crepuscular, being most active at dawn and dusk, and rarely emerging in the day (3). These agile yet powerful cats hunt by stalking and ambushing their prey (6). Pumas predominantly feed on ungulates, but are known to occasionally take smaller prey (10). In the northern areas of their range, they feed primarily on large ungulates, including elk and occasionally domestic cattle, whereas in tropical areas their diet seems to consist of more medium-sized prey (10).

California montane chaparral and woodlands habitat 4

This taxon can be found in the California montane chaparral and woodlands, a near coastal ecoregion in Central and Southern California, USA. This ecoregion is disjunctive, with a major element in Southern California and another along the Monterey County coast. The ecoregion encompasses most of the Transverse Range that includes the San Bernardino Mountains; San Gabriel Mountains; portions of the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains; Topatopa Mountains; San Jacinto Mountains; the Tehachapi, Greenhorn, Piute, and Kiavah Mountains that extend roughly northeast-southwest from the southern Sierra Nevada; and the Santa Lucia Range that parallels the coast southward from Monterey Bay to Morro Bay.

The California montane chaparral and woodland ecoregion consists of a complex mosaic of coastal sage scrub, lower chaparral dominated by chamise, upper chaparral dominated by manzanita, desert chaparral, Piñon-juniper woodland, oak woodlands, closed-cone pine forests, yellow pine forests, sugar pine-white fir forests, lodgepole pine forests, and alpine habitats. The prevalence of drought-adapted scrub species in the flora of this ecoregion helps distinguish it from similar communities in the Sierras and other portions of northern California. Many of the shared Sierra Nevadan species typically are adapted to drier habitats in that ecoregion, Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi) being a good example.

Oak species are an important component of many chaparral and forest communities throughout the ecoregion. Canyon Live Oak, Interior Live Oak, Tanbark Oak (not a true Quercus species), Engelmann Oak, Golden-cup Oak, and Scrub Oak are some examples. Mixed-conifer forests are found between 1371 to 2896 meters elevation with various combinations and dominance of incense cedar, sugar pine, and white fir, Jeffrey Pine, Ponderosa Pine, and mountain juniper. Subalpine forests consist of groves of Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis), Lodgepole Pine, and Jeffrey Pine. Very old individual trees are commonly observed in these relict subalpine forests. Within this zone are subalpine wet meadows, talus slope herbaceous communities, krumholz woodlands, and a few small aspen groves.

In addition to these general vegetation patterns, this ecoregion is noted for a variety of ecologic islands, communities with specialized conditions that are widely scattered and isolated and typically harbor endemic and relict species. Examples include two localities of Knobcone Pine (Pinus attenuata) on serpentine soils, scattered vernal pools with a number of endemic and relict species, and isolated populations of one of North America’s most diverse cypress floras, including the rare Gowen Cypress (Cupressus goveniana goveniana) restricted to two sites on acidic soils in the northern Santa Lucia Range, Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) found only at two coastal localities near Monterey Bay, and Sargent Cypress (Callitropsis sargentii LR/LC) restricted to serpentine outcrops. Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) is also restricted to three coastal sites near Monterey Bay.

The ecoregion is also home to a few endemic or near-endemic mammalian vertebrates, such as the White-eared Pocket Mouse (Perognathus alticolus EN), a mammal known only to two disjunct mountain ranges in southern California: San Bernardino Mountains in San Bernardino County (ssp. alticolus), and the Tehachapi Mountains, in Kern, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties. The near-endemic fossorial Agile Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys agilis) is found in the southern disjunctive unit of the ecoregion, and is known only to the Los Angeles Basin and foothills of San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains in Ventura, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties north to Santa Barbara County and through the southern Sierra Nevada, including Mount Pinos, Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains, and northern San Fernando Valley. Non-endemic mammals found in the ecoregion include Botta's Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae) and Trowbridge's Shrew (Sorex trowbridgii). Some larger vertebrate predators can be found in the ecoregion, including Puma (Puma concolor), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Coyote (Canis latrans), and Ringtails (Bassariscus astutus).

The ecoregion boasts five endemic and near-endemic amphibians, largely Plethodontid salamanders. Some specific salamander taxa found here are the endemic Tehachapi Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps stebbinsi VU), known from isolated sites in the Caliente Creek drainage, Piute Mountains, and Kern County, California along with scattered populations in the Tehachapi Mountains to Fort Tejon, Kern County; the near-endemic Blackbelly Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris); the Monterey Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii); the Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps pacificus), endemic to a narrow range restricted solely on Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel islands; and the Arboreal Salamander (Aneides lugubris), found only in California and Baja California. A newt found here is the Coast Range Newt (Taricha torosa). Anuran taxa in the ecoregion include the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylii NT); the Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa EN), a California endemic occurring in several disjunctive populations; and the Northern Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora).

The California montane chaparral and woodlands ecoregions contains a number of reptiles such as the Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), who ranges from Northern California to Baja California. Also found here is the Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus); the Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis); the Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata); and the Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana). The Two-striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii) is a restricted range reptile found near-coastally from Monterey County, California southward to Baja California.

The California Condor once inhabited much of the ecoregion, with the western Transverse Range acting today as a refuge for some of the last wild populations, after considerable conservation efforts, especially in the Los Padres National Forest. The Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni NT) is found in coastal areas of the ecoregion.

Common names 5

mountain lion
cougar
puma
panther
Yuma puma
Florida panther
eastern cougar
Wisconsin puma
Texas panther

Conservation 6

The puma is protected over much of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Uruguay, and hunting regulations exist in Canada, Mexico, Peru and the United States (1). However, there still remains no legal protection in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guyana. Due to its critically low numbers, the Florida puma has been the focus of a particularly concerted and multi-faceted conservation programme, but this has been a complex and expensive task (3) with the aim of achieving three viable self-sustaining wild populations within the puma's former range. Remaining viable tracts of habitat are being conserved and connected by corridors, and the impact of a major highway has been lessened by the construction of underpasses for the safe travel of pumas in the area (9). In 1995, wildlife managers controversially introduced several female pumas from Texas into Florida in an effort to increase genetic diversity. This is thought by many to have alleviated a number of problems associated with inbreeding amongst Florida pumas (6). The levels of prey species are being monitored, wild pumas have been vaccinated against diseases and a captive breeding programme has been established (1). Fortunately, despite conflict with ranchers and concern over the dangers pumas may pose to humans, there appears to be strong overall public support for the cat in North America. The fact that there is a genuine desire by many people to find ways to coexist with the puma is an encouraging step towards promoting positive conservation actions and protecting this beautiful cat (3).

Conservation status 7

More info for the term: natural

The Arizona Game and Fish Department lists Yuma pumas
on the 1988 list of threatened Native Wildlife
in Arizona. Yuma pumas are recognized as a species of special concern
by the California Department of Fish and Game [20].

Florida panther - Florida panthers are listed as endangered in the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Mammal Red Data
Book. Florida panthers are classified as an Appendix I animal in the
Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora
and Fauna (CITES) [20]. The state of Florida lists Florida panthers as
endangered [59]. According to The Network of Natural Heritage Programs
and Conservation Data Centers and The Nature Conservancy, Florida
panthers are critically imperiled in Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, and
South Carolina [55]. However, several researchers assert that Florida
panthers no longer occur in the latter three states [16,34,53].

Eastern cougar - Eastern cougars are listed as endangered
in the IUCN Mammal Red Data Book. Eastern cougars are classified as an
Appendix I animal in CITES, which provides protection from international
trade. According to The Network of Natural Heritage Programs and
Conservation Data Centers and The Nature Conservancy, eastern cougars
are critically imperiled in South Carolina [55]. In Canada, they are
listed as endangered in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec
[62].

Mountain lions are listed as a state threatened species in South Dakota
[60].

Cover requirements 8

More info for the term: cover

Stalking cover - The best stalking cover for mountain lions is thick
enough for mountain lions to remain hidden, and sparse enough for them
to see their prey [20]. Mountain lions commonly use terrain such as
steep canyons, rock outcroppings, and boulders, or vegetation such as
dense brush and thickets to remain hidden while stalking [3,20].

Protective cover - Dense vegetation or piles of boulders are often
selected as den sites to help protect kittens from harsh weather and
predators [20,32].

Description 9

Cougars avoid open habitats such as flat, shrubless deserts and farm fields, but can make a living in swamps, forests, and desert scrub habitat. They live solitary lives at low population densities, and usually avoid humans, but about four attacks are reported annually in the United States and Canada. Cougars hunt at night, either stalking their prey or waiting in ambush to pounce. They take hoofed mammals, sometimes including domestic livestock, and other prey, including rabbits, hares, porcupines, bobcats, coyotes, beavers, opossums, skunks, and even other Cougars. They rarely bed down in the same place two days in a row unless they are watching young or consuming a large kill. Some states and provinces allow Cougars to be hunted for sport

Links:
Mammal Species of the World
Visit ARKive for more images of the Florida panther  More images, video and sound of the Florida panther, a subspecies

Description 10

Other than man, this large, slender cat has the greatest natural distribution of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere (5). The puma, also known as the cougar, mountain lion and panther, is powerfully built and extremely agile. These cats are characterised by a long body with unusually long hindlimbs, thought to be an adaptation to bursts of high-speed running and jumping, used to chase and ambush prey (5) (6). The cat has a long neck, a small, broad head, short, rounded ears that are black on the back, and a long, cylindrical tail with a black tip (5) (6). The coat is of uniform colour, hence the Latin name, concolor, varying from silvery-grey through tawny-yellow to light reddish brown (3) (7). The throat, chest and belly are a pale buff to whitish colour (8) and the sides of the muzzle are framed in black (5). Faint horizontal stripes may occasionally be seen on the upper forelegs, and melanism has been widely reported though not confirmed (3) (5). Young kittens are spotted, with blue eyes (3). Males rarely weigh more than 100 kilograms, and depending on sex and age, tend to be larger in the north of their range (3), and the coat is generally longer to insulate against extreme temperatures (7).

Distribution 11

Mountain lions have the widest distribution of any native mammal in the
western hemisphere [12,56,34]. During presettlement times, mountain
lions ranged from northern British Columbia to southern Chile and
Argentina, and from coast to coast in North America [12]. Although
still covering over 100 degrees latitude from the Straits of Magellan to
the Canadian Yukon Territory and now also Alaska, there has been an
overall reduction in mountain lion distribution. In North America
substantial mountain lion populations occur only in the western United
States and Canada, and these ranges have been reduced from presettlement
times [56]. Isolated populations and incidental sightings have been
reported in the central and eastern United States [10,12]. At present
the only known mountain lion population east of Texas exists in southern
Florida, although a small population may exist in western Arkansas and
eastern Oklahoma [30]. The specific distributions of the North American
subspecies are listed below:

P. c. azteca - Occurs in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico [19].

Yuma puma - Yuma pumas live along the lower Colorado River in
California, Arizona, and Mexico [20].

P. c. californica - Occurs in southern Oregon, California, and Nevada
[19].

Florida panther - Historically Florida panthers ranged from the lower
Mississippi River valley east through the southeastern states to the
Florida Everglades. At present the Florida panther is found only south
of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, in four areas: the Fakahatchee Strand; Big
Cypress National Preserve; the southern portion of the Everglades
Conservation Area; and Everglades National Park, from the
Hole-in-the-Donut area north [16,34,53]. In addition to the above
areas, a number of recent, verified reports or specimens have come from
Highlands, Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, Osceola, Volusia, and St. Johns
counties. However, no reproduction has been recorded in these areas
[34]. Only 30 to 50 Florida panthers are believed to exist in the wild
[34,53]. The population of Florida panthers that existed in Everglades
National Park in the mid-1980's is now functionally extinct, with only
one male remaining [3].

Eastern cougar - Historically eastern cougars ranged throughout the
eastern United States from Michigan and Indiana east to the Atlantic
coast, and from southern Canada south to Tennessee and South Carolina.
Today eastern cougars may be extinct. No breeding populations have been
positively identified within the historic range since the 1920's.
Unconfirmed sightings continue to be reported from the mountains of
North Carolina and the Virginias. Tracks and scat were observed in the
Jefferson-George Washington-Monongahela National Forest as recently as
1981, but no positive confirmation was made [53].

P. c. missoulensis and P. c. hippolestes - Historically, P. c.
missoulensis ranged from British Columbia east to Manitoba, and south to
eastern Oregon, Idaho, Montana, northern Wyoming, and northern North
Dakota. P. c. hippolestes ranged from southern Idaho and northern Utah
east to eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and western Kansas
[19]. Hansen [20] stated that both subspecies are now restricted to the
western portion of their historic ranges. However, sightings still
occur in Kansas, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Nebraska
panhandle [20].

P. c. kaibabensis - Occurs from southern Oregon south through Nevada,
western Utah, and northern Arizona [19].

P. c. olympus - Occurs in the Olympic Mountains of Washington [12].

P. c. oregonensis - Occurs in southwestern British Columbia, western
Washington, and Oregon [19].

Wisconsin puma - The current distribution of this subspecies was not
described in the available literature.

Texas panther - This subspecies formerly occupied most of Texas and
Oklahoma, but is now restricted to eastern New Mexico and western Texas
[20].

P. c. vancouverensis - Occurs on Vancouver Island, British Columbia
[19].

Food habits 12

More info for the term: dispersion

In North America mountain lions feed primarily on large ungulate
species. Small mammals are also eaten depending on local abundance
[10,20,34,56]. Occasionally, grass and carrion are eaten [1]. The main
prey seems to be a function of abundance [10,12]. Composition of the
diet may shift seasonally, reflecting the adundance and availability of
small prey and the dispersion of large prey such as deer and elk (Cervus
elaphus) [30].

Deer dominate the diet of mountain lions in most areas [30]. In the
western United States, mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are the major
prey species. Other prey species include white-tailed deer, elk, moose
(Alces alces), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), porcupines (Erthizon
dorsatum), American beavers (Castor canadensis), snowshoe hares (Lepus
californicus), ground squirrels (Citellus spp.), marmots (Marmota spp.),
smaller rodents (Rodentia), other carnivores, and domestic livestock
[9,30]. Porcupines are a preferred food item wherever they occur in
mountain lion range [56]. In most temperate regions, small mammals
represent a minor part of the diet and probably are taken
opportunistically.

In British Columbia moose comprised a large portion of diet of mountain
lions, as did snowshoe hares during a peak snowshoe hare population
[56]. In the Cascade Range of Oregon, black-tailed deer (Odocoileus
hemionus columbianus) were the most important prey item in the mountain
lion diet. Domestic sheep (Ovis aries), porcupines, and a variety of
small mammals were also recorded [48]. In the southwestern United
States, collared peccary (Pecari angulatus) can be an important part of
the mountain lion diet [56].

In Florida, Florida panthers commonly prey on feral pigs (Sus scrofa),
raccoons (Procyon lotor), and nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus
novemcinctus) in addition to white-tailed deer [16,32,34]. In
southwestern Florida from 1977 through 1989, 270 scat samples indicated
that feral pigs were the most common prey species followed by
white-tailed deer, raccoons, and armadillos [32]. The most important
food items, based on contents of six Florida panther stomachs, were
armadillos and white-tailed deer. All of the stomachs also contained 3
to 8 grams of grass. Another study in southern Florida found
white-tailed deer in 46 percent of Florida panther scat, rabbits
(Sylvilagus spp.) in 31 percent, cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) in 20
percent, feral pigs in 15 percent, raccoons in 11 percent, armadillos in
7 percent, and birds (Aves) in 3 percent [5].

Known predators 13

Puma concolor is prey of:
Ursidae
Canis lupus
Puma concolor

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.

Known prey organisms 14

Puma concolor preys on:
Erethizontidae
Equus caballus
Odocoileus
Actinopterygii
Mollusca
Aves
Mammalia
Ursus americanus
Nasua nasua
Vulpes vulpes
Cervus elaphus
Odocoileus virginianus
Puma concolor
Mazama gouazoupira
Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Based on studies in:
USA: Arizona (Forest, Montane)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing 15

Maximum longevity: 23.8 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild, these animals have been estimated to live up to 18 years (Bernhard Grzimek 1990). One captive specimen was still alive at 23.8 years of age (Richard Weigl 2005).

Predators 16

Biologists working near the North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana,
have reported gray wolves (Canis lupus) killing mountain lions as well
as driving them from prey [37]. Adult male mountain lions are known to
kill mountain lion kittens and sometimes eat them [12,30,56]. Adult
female mountain lions are occasionally killed by other mountain lions
[30].

Preferred habitat 17

More info for the terms: cover, density, shrubs

Mountain lion habitat is essentially the same as that of their primary
prey. Within this habitat, mountain lions tend to prefer rocky cliffs,
ledges, vegetated ridgetops, or other areas that provide cover for
undetected surveillance of prey [46,56]. Stream courses and ridgetops
are frequently used as travel corridors and hunting routes. Riparian
vegetation along streams provides cover for mountain lions traveling in
open areas [46].

Florida panthers generally inhabit ecotones and subtropical, dense
forests in low-lying swampy areas composed mainly of trees, shrubs, and
vines. They also occur in pine forests [20,53]. In Everglades National
Park, edge habitat provides good forage and cover for white-tailed deer
(Odocoileus virginianus), which in turn may attract Florida panthers
[20].

In the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho, mountain lions
preferred steep, rocky areas covered with "dense" Douglas-fir and
ponderosa pine mixed with sagebrush and grassland. Mountain lions
avoided crossing large open areas with sparse cover, preferring to
travel around perimeters [20,43]. In the Bighorn Mountains of northern
Wyoming, mountain lions frequented canyons with steep, rugged slopes (>
45 deg). Areas with gentle slopes (< 20 deg) were generally avoided
[31].

Den sites - In rough terrain mountain lion dens are usually located in a
shallow nook on the face of a cliff or rock outcrop. In less
mountainous areas dens are located in dense thickets or under fallen
logs. Little bedding is used in dens. Females may use the same den for
several years [56]. A radio-collared female Florida panther chose the
same large sawpalmetto thicket surrounded by hammock and freshwater
marsh for her den in 1986 and 1988 [34].

Home range - The home range consists of a first-order home area, used
primarily for resting, and a much larger area used for hunting [56].
Home ranges are maintained by resident mountain lions but not transient
mountain lions [56]. Mountain lions are capable of covering large
distances in short periods of time [30].

Home range size varies by sex and age of the mountain lion, season, and
spatial distribution and density of prey [20,30,43,56]. Home ranges as
large as 196 square miles (510 sq. km) and as small as 25 square miles
(65 sq. km) have been reported. Resident male mountain lion home ranges
are typically larger than those of females and overlap a number of
female home ranges, but only occasionally overlap those of other
resident males. Mean home range for resident male Florida panthers is
between 168 and 196 square miles (437-510 sq. km); for resident females
it is between 68 and 74 square miles (177-192 sq. km) [34]. Home ranges
of resident females commonly overlap, but females avoid each other in
the areas of overlap [20,30,56]. Female mountain lions probably select
areas with relatively high prey densities. Male home ranges may reflect
the density and distribution of females [34].

Mountain lions move from summer range to winter range in areas where
their main prey congregates during the winter [10,30,37]. The smallest
documented home ranges appear to occur in areas where deer (Odocoileus
spp.) do not exhibit seasonal movements [30]. Seasonal and sex
differences in home range size were reported by Seidensticker and others
[43] on the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Regional distribution in the western united states 18

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

Size in north america 19

Sexual Dimorphism: Males are significantly heavier than females.

Length:
Average: 1,270 mm males; 1,140 mm females
Range: 1,020-1,540 mm males; 860-1,310 mm females

Weight:
Average: 62 kg males; 42 kg females
Range: 36-120 kg males; 29-64 kg females

Threats 20

Across their range, pumas have been considered a threat to livestock and persecuted because of this (1). Indeed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate that a minimum of 66,665 pumas were killed between 1907 and 1978. Additionally, pumas are one of the few large predators in Northern America that it is legal to hunt for sport and chase with dogs (5). This species is particularly vulnerable because it takes to trees when hunted, effectively becoming trapped (3). Pumas are also considered a potential danger to humans, especially children (8), although pumas almost never attack people (5). With people settling in more remote areas and with legal protection of the cat, the potential for conflict between humans and pumas arises, and there is a concern that pumas will lose their fear of being close to humans. In California and Florida, many animals are killed by vehicles as heavily travelled roads divide populations and even the home ranges of individual pumas. Loss and fragmentation of habitat also poses significant threats to the puma's future survival; in particular the Florida puma, which faces the serious problem of reduced genetic diversity associated with inbreeding, which in turn reduces resistance to disease or environmental change, and adversely affects fertility (7).

Timing of major life history events 21

More info for the terms: litter, polygamous

Breeding season - Mountain lions are polygamous. They are capable of
breeding throughout the year, and successful litters can be produced any
month of the year [56]. However, there is generally a peak in litter
production during the summer [1,56]. The estrous cycle lasts
approximately 23 days, with estrus usually lasting 8 days. However,
periods of estrus lasting up to 11 days have been reported [56].
Mountain lions are generally solitary except during the breeding season
and when the female is raising young [10].

The breeding season of Florida panthers starts in October and continues
through April, with the majority of conceptions occurring from November
to March. Over half of the births occurring during the period form
April through August [3].

Age at sexual maturity - Mountain lions first breed when they are 2 to 3
years old [10,56,51]. Females born during the summer generally first
breed during the winter following their second birthday [20,56].
Females usually do not breed until they have established a home range
[20]. The earliest published instance of first reproduction in the
Florida panther was an 18- to 19-month-old female that raised four
kittens in her mother's home range. Male Florida panthers appear to
reach sexual maturity after 3 years of age [3].

Gestation and litter size - Following a gestation period of 82 to 98
days (90-98 days for Florida panthers), a litter of one to six young is
produced, with a mean of 2.67 [1,3,10,20,30]. Florida panther litter
sizes range from one to four kittens [3]. Female mountain lions may
produce only one kitten in their first litter [30]. A litter may be
produced every year under "optimal conditions" [56], but usually one
litter is produced every other year or at 3-year intervals [3,56]. If
the female loses her kittens to predators or other circumstances, she
may breed again soon after the loss [20].

Growth of young - Kittens begin nursing within minutes after birth and
gain weight rapidly. Males usually grow faster than females. At 2
weeks of age, eyes and ears are open, and kittens are able to walk. In
10 to 20 days kittens may weigh over 2 pounds. The female leads kittens
to kills when they are 7 to 8 weeks old [20]. The kittens are weaned
when they are 2 to 3 months old. Kittens can survive on their own at 6
months of age, but they typically remain with their mother until they
are 1 to 2 years old [1,20,30,56]. Siblings sometimes disperse as a
group and may remain together for 3 months or longer [37].

Longevity - The maximum longevity of wild mountain lions is unknown.
Once established on home ranges, mountain lions may live 12 to 13 years
[12,37]. There is evidence of a 15- to 18-year life span in the wild
for Florida panthers, but 8 to 12 years is considered old [3]. Three
captive male mountain lions lived at least 12, 15, and 18 years, and one
female lived at least 10 years. A 9-year average and a 20-year maximum
lifespan have been reported for captive mountain lions [1,12].

Status 22

Two subspecies P. concolor coryi, the Florida Panther, and P. concolor cougar, the Eastern Cougar, are Critically Endangered; the parent species is Near Threatened.

Associated plant communities 23

More info for the terms: cover, shrub, swamp

Mountain lions occupy a wide variety of plant communities. They are
found in montane coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, swamps,
grasslands, dry brushlands, and any other area with adequate cover and
prey [16,20,31,46,56]. Typical mountain lion habitat in western North
America is open woodland such as oak (Quercus spp.) scrub, pinyon (Pinus
spp.), juniper (Juniperus spp.), curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus
ledifolius), snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus), and manzanita
(Arctostaphylos spp.) communities [56].

Logan and Irwin [31] investigated habitat use by mountain lions in the
Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming, and found that mixed conifer and curlleaf
mountain-mahogany communities were preferred. In southern Utah mountain
lion habitat consists of desert shrub and sagebrush (Artemisia
spp.)-grassland communities at lower elevations (4,445 to 5,940 feet
[1,330-1,780 m]). Mountain lions also occupy pinyon-juniper woodlands,
Gambel oak (Q. gambelii) scrub, open ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
forests which dominate at mid-elevations (5,940 to 8,910 feet
[1,780-2,670 m]) [20,46], and higher elevation stands of quaking aspen
(Populus tremuloides), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), or white
fir (Abies concolor) interspersed with subalpine meadows. Mountain
lions also inhabit deep, rocky, vertical-walled river canyons containing
riparian vegetation including Fremont cottonwood (P. fremontii) and
willows (Salix spp.) [46].

In the Idaho Primitive Area, mountain lion habitat consists of Engelmann
spruce-subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii) associations at higher elevations. At lower
elevations mountain lions inhabit curlleaf mountain-mahogany, antelope
bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), and big sagebrush (A.
tridentata)-bunchgrass associations [46].

In California mountain lions occur primarily between 1,980 and 5,940
feet (590-1,780 m) in mixed conifer and brush habitats. Mountain lions
are rare at higher elevations in pure stands of conifers and at lower
elevations in pure stands of chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) [46]. In
New Mexico mountain lions commonly occur in pinyon-juniper plant
communities [25].

Florida panthers inhabit most types of vegetation in southern Florida
including tropical hammocks, pine flatwoods, cabbage palmetto (Sabal
palmetto), mixed swamps, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps, live
oak (Q. virginiana) hammocks, sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) marshes, and
Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia) thickets [4,14,28,34].
Belden and others [4] found that Florida panthers used mixed swamp
forests and hammock forests more than expected based on the availability
of these habitats within their home range. Day-use sites typically are
dense patches of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) surrounded by swamp, pine
flatwoods, or hammocks. Open agricultural lands are common around most
publicly owned land in southern Florida and receive some use by Florida
panthers if cover nearby is adequate [14,34].

REFERENCES :
NO-ENTRY

Sources and Credits

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