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Spatial ecology of cougars (Puma concolor) in the Cypress Hills: Implications for human-cougar interactions and range expansion

  • Author / Creator
    Morrison, Carl D
  • Cougar (Puma concolor) range is expanding eastward in North America. Understanding how range expansion is occurring in a human-dominated landscape is needed to manage the social and ecological implications of a returning large carnivore. To address this, I used GPS-radio collars and remote cameras to study the habitat and movement ecology of an isolated and recently reestablished population of cougars in the Cypress Hills in southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta, Canada. I found that cougars avoided high human-use areas during seasonal peaks in human activity but used these areas according to their availability when human activity was lower. During transience, sub-adult cougars adopted fast-paced nocturnal movements to traverse large stretches of unsuitable (matrix) habitat. The cougar’s adaptability to changes in human activity, together with their dispersal capability, will facilitate greater eastward range expansion. This could potentially restore important components of ecosystem structure and function to areas currently devoid of large carnivores.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2013-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3ZQ3X
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Biological Sciences
  • Specialization
    • Ecology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Nielsen, Scott (Renewable Resources)
    • Boyce, Mark (Biological Sciences)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Cassady St. Clair, Colleen (Biological Sciences)
    • Murie, Jan (Biological Sciences)