CARNIVORE: A Disruption-Tolerant System for Studying Wildlife

A pioneering study of pumas in the Santa Cruz Mountains will generate unprecedented insights into the behavior of one of the region’s top predators.

Led by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the project will shed light on the movement, range, physiology, and predatory habits of pumas, also known as mountain lions. UCSC is collaborating with the Felidae Conservation Fund and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) on the project, with additional support from California State Parks.

Understanding puma behavior is important as development pressures contribute to more frequent encounters between humans and mountain lions. The Bay Area Puma Project will utilize novel technology developed at UCSC to answer questions that have so far evaded scientists.

Ecologist Chris Wilmers, assistant professor of environmental studies at UCSC and the lead investigator on the project, and Terrie Williams, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC, will team up to explore questions of puma behavior, physiology, and ecology. “We’re trying to learn as much as possible about mountain lion—where they live, what their range and dietary needs are, and how to minimize conflict with humans,” said Wilmers.