The University of Arizona

Diet selection of mountain lions in southeastern Arizona.

S.C. Cunningham, C.R. Gustavson, W.B. Ballard

Abstract


Prey selection by mountain lions (Puma concolor) in the Aravaipa-Klondyke area in southeastern Arizona was studied from February 1991 to September 1993. Overall diet as determined from frequency of occurrence in 370 scats was 48% deer (Odocoileus virginianus cousi and O. hemionus combined), 34% cattle, 17% javelina (Tayassu tajacu), 6% rabbit (Sylvilagus spp. and Lepus californicus combined), 4% rodent, and 2% desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicanus). With respect to biomass consumed, cattle composed 44%, deer 40%, javelina 10.9%, rabbits 2.9%, and rodents 0.02%. Based on mean weights of prey consumed, the proportion of individuals killed and eaten changed to rabbits 52.7%, deer 16.3%, rodents 12%. javelina 10%, cattle 8%, and desert bighorn sheep 0.5%. Mountain lions selected deer less frequently than their availability would suggest, selected calves slightly more than their availability, and javelina as expected. We speculated that lions selected calves because they were more vulnerable to predation than deer.

Keywords


Puma concolor;prey;tayassu tajacu;montane forests;predator-prey relationships;predation;predator control;semiarid grasslands;population density;calves;diet;Odocoileus;seasonal variation;Arizona

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