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Functional responses of cougars (Puma concolor) in a multiple prey-species system
Integrative Zoology, Volume: 13, Pages: 84 - 93
Swansea University Author: Mike Fowler
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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/1749-4877.12262
The study of predator–prey interactions is commonly analyzed using functional responses to gain an understanding of predation patterns and the impact they have on prey populations. Despite this, little is known about predator–prey systems with multiple prey species in sites near the equator. Here we...
|Published in:||Integrative Zoology|
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The study of predator–prey interactions is commonly analyzed using functional responses to gain an understanding of predation patterns and the impact they have on prey populations. Despite this, little is known about predator–prey systems with multiple prey species in sites near the equator. Here we studied the functional response of cougars (Puma concolor) in relation to their main prey, armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), coati (Nasua narica) and white‐tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Between 2004 and 2010, cougar scats were collected along 5 transects to estimate the consumption of different prey species. A relative abundance index (RAI) was calculated for each prey species and cougar using 18 camera traps. We compared Holling type I, II and III functional response models to determine patterns in prey consumption based on the relative abundance and biomass of each prey species consumed. The 3 main prey species comprised 55% (armadillo), 17% (coati) and 8% (white‐tailed deer) of the diet. Type I and II functional responses described consumption of the 2 most common prey species armadillos and coati similarly well, while a type I response best characterized consumption of white‐tailed deer. A negative correlation between the proportions of armadillo versus coati and white‐tailed deer biomass in cougar scats suggests switching to consume alternative prey, confirming high foraging plasticity of this carnivore. This work represents one of the few studies to compare functional responses across multiple prey species, combined with evidence for prey‐switching at low densities of preferred prey.
Faculty of Science and Engineering