Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Julie K. Young


Julie K. Young


David C. Stoner


Norah P. Saarman


Juvenile dispersal, the act of moving from their natal range to the place where they eventually reproduce and establish an adult home range is hazardous. Juveniles must travel and find food across unfamiliar landscapes, where they must also cross roads, avoid harvest, and navigate developed landscapes. Despite the inherent dangers of dispersal, this demographic process is important for finding suitable mates and reducing inbreeding depression. Wildlife conservation concerns arise when individuals are unable to disperse due to a loss of connectivity, as this can negatively impact population demographics and genetic diversity. We explored the effects of hunting and human-developed landscapes on the dispersal behavior of juvenile mountain lions (Puma concolor) in two geographically separated populations subject to different management practices—one with hunting in Nevada and one protected from hunting in California. We used GPS-collar data from 12 and 13 individuals in Nevada and California, respectively, and divided juvenile dispersal into three distinct movement states: exploratory, departure, and transient home range. We then compared used and available locations to identify habitat selection and avoidance characteristics. Our study revealed consistencies between the two sites, including selection for habitat features such as forest, shrub, elevation, and terrain ruggedness. Notably, only the population subjected to hunting pressure exhibited avoidance of human-developed habitat types. Results suggest that hunting influences the dispersal behavior of juvenile mountain lions. This thesis highlights the utility of research using comparative populations to further our understanding of dispersal behavior.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License