Pu­mas more so­cial than pre­vi­ously thought: Study

The Asian Age - - News+ - — PTI

Los An­ge­les: Pu­mas, long known as soli­tary car­ni­vores, are more so­cial an­i­mals than pre­vi­ously thought, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished today. The study is the first to quan­tify com­plex, en­dur­ing, and “friendly” in­ter­ac­tions of these se­cre­tive an­i­mals, re­veal­ing a rich puma so­ci­ety far more tol­er­ant and so­cial than pre­vi­ously un­der­stood. “Our re­search shows that food shar­ing among this group of moun­tain lions is a so­cial ac­tiv­ity, which can­not be ex­plained by eco­log­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal fac­tors alone,” said Mark Lubell from Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis in the US. The find­ings may have im­pli­ca­tions for mul­ti­ple species, in­clud­ing other wild cats around the world. “It is the com­plete op­po­site of what we have been say­ing about pu­mas and soli­tary species for over 60 years,” said Mark El­broch, lead sci­en­tist with the Pan­thera Puma Pro­gramme. “We were shocked. This re­search al­lows us to break down mytholo­gies and question what we thought we knew,” said El­broch, lead au­thor of the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Science Ad­vances. Pu­mas have been as­sumed to avoid each other, ex­cept dur­ing mat­ing, ter­ri­to­rial en­coun­ters, or when rais­ing young. The pop­u­la­tion stud­ied in­ter­acted ev­ery 11-12 days dur­ing win­ter. That is much less fre­quent than more gre­gar­i­ous species like meerkats, African lions, or wolves, which in­ter­act as of­ten as ev­ery few min­utes, re­searchers said. To doc­u­ment so­cial be­hav­iour, the sci­en­tists had to fol­low pu­mas over longer time spans. The team col­lected thou­sands of lo­ca­tions in north­west Wy­oming in the US from GPS-equipped col­lars and doc­u­mented the so­cial in­ter­ac­tions of pu­mas over 1,000 prey car­casses. Of those stud­ied, 242 were equipped with mo­tion-trig­gered cam­eras that filmed in­ter­ac­tions and served as ev­i­dence of so­cial be­hav­iour. “We cap­tured the pat­terns of be­hav­iour that have no doubt been oc­cur­ring among pu­mas all along,” said El­broch. The re­search team an­a­lysed puma net­works to re­veal that the species ex­hibits so­cial strate­gies like more so­cial an­i­mals, just over longer timescales.

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