Puma - Cat 2 of 3 of the Puma family of cats - Wild Cat Family

Puma – Cat 2 of 3 of the Puma family of cats

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Puma Lineage

The second cat in the Puma family of cats we’ll cover is the Puma (Puma concolor) also known as the Cougar or Mountain Lion.

Puma / Mountain Lion / Cougar (Puma concolor) - Puma Genus and Lineage

The adaptable Puma is also called the Cougar, Mountain Lion, Panther and many other names. It is known as the wild cat with the most number of common names.

Pumas are widespread from Canada through North and Central America to South America, but have disappeared from many regions within this vast range due to persecution.

Here are some interesting articles about this amazing cat’s ecology and how it contributes to maintaining healthy ecosystems as an apex predator:

(Images are copyright the original articles)

Pumas as Ecological Agents

A review on Puma interactions with other species found relationships with a total of 485 other species:

  • 203 species as Puma prey
  • 281 species that feed on their prey
  • 12 species as competitors

Other ecosystem services were also discovered.


Article: Puma Power by Defenders of Wildlife Magazine

Puma Research - Ecology
Locations of research on the puma Puma concolor included in our review, and the current and historical (pre-European settlement) geographic range of the species in North and South America. Each of the 162 studies is assigned to one of the five interaction categories we defined (11 studies were assigned to two categories).

Using Facial Recognition to Count Cougars

Cougars have no unique patterns on their coats that can be used to identify individuals. However they do have marked facial features.

Using a recorded kitten call that caused the cats to turn and look at the trail camera, facial shots were collected.

Podcast: How AI Facial Recognition Is Helping Conserve Pumas by Ashleigh Papp Scientific American

Puma Research - Camera Trap Methods
Camera trap photos of pumas taken in northwest Wyoming 2017–2020, using a novel method designed to capture pumas front-on for facial-ID. The photos are arranged by individual identity, with each row corresponding to an ID that had 100% agreement between five independent raters assigning photo-ID to the image set.

Donkeys and Mountain Lions Replicate Ancient Interactions

Recent research with camera traps has revealed mountain lion predation on wild donkeys. This suggests that the cats have taken the place of the ancient predators that once hunted ancient equids.

Focusing on desert wetlands the study investigated differences between sites with and without mountain lion predation.

Article: Introduced donkeys and indigenous pumas are helping to resurrect extinct food webs in Death Valley by Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Mountain Lion Research - Predations
First photographic evidence of cougar predation on feral donkeys, captured with camera traps. (a, b). Successful predation of a yearling donkey in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona. The cougar is looking up from the ground. Arrow in inset points to the cougar’s left eye. (c, d). Predation of a foal in the Death Valley National Park, in the Mojave Desert of California. Donkey ages were determined from tooth eruption sequences of carcasses. Images (a) and (c) were tonally adjusted for visibility (see Figure S2 for original versions).


In the next post we will cover the third cat in the Puma Lineage – the Jaguarundi.

Here is a list of our past newsletters in case you’ve missed one.

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