Meeting Abstract

27.1  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Energetics and Mechanics of Mountain Lions: A step by step analysis for carnivore conservation WILLIAMS, T.M.*; WOLFE, L.L.; DAVIS, T.R.; KENDALL, T.; RICHTER, B.; ELKAIM, G.; WILMERS, C.; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fort Collins; Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fort Collins; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz williams@biology.ucsc.edu

As one of North America’s largest terrestrial carnivores, the mountain lion (Puma concolor) places extraordinary demands on habitats and prey resources. As a result, conflicts with human activities can occur but have been difficult to predict. We developed a new “smart” collar incorporating physiological attributes of the animal, GPS and accelerometers to monitor movements, behavior and energetics of free-ranging lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Collars were calibrated on three adult lions (mass = 65.7 kg) trained to wear the collar in a natural enclosure and while walking on a treadmill. Oxygen consumption (VO2) was determined by open-flow respirometry from rest to 7 km.hr-1 and correlated to gait. The data were then used to assign behavioral and energetic signatures to collar signals. VO2 (mlO2.kg-1.min-1) increased linearly with walking speed (m.s-1) according to VO2 = 8.71 + 10.12speed (r2=0.96). Net transport costs and gait transition speeds of mountain lions were as predicted for quadrupeds. Conversely, total energetic costs for both rest and activity were 71% higher than predicted for domestic mammals, following the trend for elevated metabolism in large carnivores. Tests with collared, free-ranging lions demonstrated peak energy expenditure during dawn and dusk for lone females while those with kittens maintained constant hunting/energetic demands throughout the day. This integrative wildlife monitoring approach provides new insights regarding optimal foraging by a large carnivore, and demonstrates the importance of species-specific physiological traits when developing conservation plans.