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Title: Cougar response to a gradient of human development

Human populations continue to increase and transform Earth's ecosystems. For large carnivores, human development reduces habitat abundance, alters predator–prey dynamics, and increases the risk of mortality, which may threaten the viability of many populations. To investigate how the cougar ( Puma concolor) responds to a gradient of human development in four areas in Washington, USA, we used utilization distributions, county tax parcel data, Weibull modeling analysis, and multiple comparison techniques. Cougars used wildland areas the majority of the time (79% ± 2%, n = 112 cougars), with use decreasing as housing densities increased. When present in human-developed areas in eastern Washington, 99% of the habitat that cougars used had housing densities ≤76.5 residences/km 2, which was <846.0 residences/km 2 observed in western Washington ( P < 0.01). Cougars used areas in western Washington with greater housing density likely because of the clustered nature of housing developments, the connectivity with greenbelts and forested corridors, and security cover of dense maritime vegetation. Our findings suggest a consistent, albeit nuanced response by cougars to human development that may be used by wildlife managers, landscape planners, and environmental educators to guide and enhance their efforts to minimize the impacts of human development on cougarsmore » and reduce the potential for conflicts with people. In conclusion, our model may also provide guidance for thresholds of human development for other adaptable large carnivores.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA (United States)
  3. Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Wenatchee, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
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Published Article
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Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2150-8925
Ecological Society of America
Research Org:
Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States); Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA (United States); Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Wenatchee, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; cougar; human development; Puma concolor; residential density space use; utilization distribution; Washington
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Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1368592; OSTI ID: 1393486