Large-Scale Movement Patterns and Genetic Structuring Among Puma Populations in a Fragmented Landscape

EPA Grant Number: U915652
Title: Large-Scale Movement Patterns and Genetic Structuring Among Puma Populations in a Fragmented Landscape
Investigators: McRae, Bradner H.
Institution: Northern Arizona University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $92,169
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Terrestrial Ecology and Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Academic Fellowships


The overall objective of this research project is to use noninvasive genetic analysis techniques to determine whether isolation has affected genetic structuring of puma (Puma concolor) populations in the southwestern United States and in northwestern Mexico. These analyses also will be used to construct models of how natural and anthropogenic habitat fragmentation affect gene flow between populations of pumas. The specific objectives of this research project are to: (1) include partial replication of the above study objectives with bobcats; (2) develop scented hair snares for noninvasive DNA sampling among felids in temperate and tropical habitats; and (3) address separate questions of current and historic genetic structuring among jaguar populations in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.


DNA samples will be obtained from hair collected from scented hair snares, from feces collected in the field, and from hunter-killed cats. These samples will be analyzed using 16-20 feline microsatellite markers. Genetic distances then will be related between populations to geographic distances and landscape features using models of habitat conductivity parameterized for each species.

The data are expected to show that puma populations within the study area exhibit increasing genetic distance with geographic distance. This information will help to build an empirical model of how landscape structure affects movements, gene flow, and population structuring for pumas throughout the region, and will aid in efforts to conserve these and other felids.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, conservation genetics, molecular ecology, microsatellites, phylogeography, metapopulations, Puma concolor.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final