Skip to main content

Biogeographic variation of food habits and body size of the America puma

Summary

The puma (Felis concolor) has the most extensive range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, covering over 100° latitude. Food habits of different puma subspecies vary with latitude. Subspecies from temperate habitats generally eat larger prey and specialize on a smaller number of prey taxa, whereas, in tropical habitats, they prey on smaller, more varied prey. In North America, ungulates (primarily deer) represented 68% of the puma's diet by frequency of occurrence. Mean weight of vertebrate prey (MWVP) was positively correlated (r=0.875) with puma body weight and inversely correlated (r=-0.836) with food niche breadth in all America. In general, MWVP was lower in areas closer to the Equator. Patterns of puma prey selection are probably influenced by prey availability and vulnerability, habitat characteristics, and potential competition from the jaguar (Panthera onca).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Ackerman BB, Lindzey FG, Hemker TP (1984) Cougar food habits in southern Utah. J Wildl Manage 48:147–155

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson AE (1983) A critical review of literature on puma (Felis concolor). Colorado Division of Wildlife Spec Rep 54

  • Bertram BCR (1982) Leopard ecology as studied by radio tracking. Symp Zool Soc, London 49:341–352

    Google Scholar 

  • Bothma JDuP, Le Riche EAN (1986) Prey preference and hunting efficiency of the Kalahari desert leopard. In: Miller SD, Everett DD (eds) Cats of the World: Biology, Conservation, and Management. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D.C., pp 406–412

    Google Scholar 

  • Colwell RR, Futuyma DJ (1971) On the measuement of niche breadth and overlap. Ecology 52:567–572

    Google Scholar 

  • Courtin SL, Pacheco NV, Eldridge WD (1980) Observaciones de alimentación, movimientos y preferencias de habitat del puma en el Islote Rupanco. Medio Ambiente (Chile) 4:50–55

    Google Scholar 

  • Currier MJP (1983) Felis concolor. Mamm Species 200:1–7

    Google Scholar 

  • Dayan T, Simberloff D, Tchernov E, Yoram Y (1989) Inter-and intraspecific character displacement in mustelids. Ecology 70:1526–1539

    Google Scholar 

  • Dixon J (1925) Food predilections of predatory and furbearing mammals. J Mammal 6:34–46

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisenberg JF (1981) The mammalian radiations: ecology, behavior, and evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Emmons LH (1987) Comparative feeding ecology of felids in a neotropical rainforest. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 20:271–283

    Google Scholar 

  • Gittleman JL (1985) Carnivore body size: ecological and taxonomic correlates. Oecologia 67:540–554

    Google Scholar 

  • Hibben FC (1937) A preliminary study of the mountain lion (Felis oregonensis sp.). University of New Mexico Agric Stn Bull 318:1–59

    Google Scholar 

  • Honacki JH, Kinman KE, Koeppl JW (eds) (1982) Mammal species of the world. A taxonomic and geographic reference. Allen Press, Inc. and the Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas

    Google Scholar 

  • Iriarte JA (1988) Feeding ecology of Patagonia puma (Felis concolor patagonica) in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. M.A. Thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

  • Iriarte JA, Johnson WE, Franklin WL, Johnson KA. Feeding ecology of the Patagonia puma in southern Chile

  • King CM (1989) The advantages and disadvantages of small size to weasels, Mustela species. In: Gittleman JL (ed) Carnivore behavior ecology and evolution. Cornell University Press, pp 302–334

  • Kurten B (1973) Geographic variation in size in the puma (Felis concolor). Commentat Biol Soc Sci Fennica 63:1–8

    Google Scholar 

  • Levins R (1968) Evolution in changing environments. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maehr DS, Land ED, Roof JC, McCown JW (1989) Early maternal behavior in the Florida panther. Am Midl Nat 122:34–43

    Google Scholar 

  • Maehr DS, Belden RC, Land ED, Wilkins L (1990) Food habits of panthers in Southwest Florida. J Wildl Manage (in press)

  • McBride RT (1976) The status and ecology of the mountain lion (Felis concolor stanleyana) of the Texas-Mexico border. M.S. Thesis, Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas

  • McNab BK (1971) On the ecologial significance of Bergmann's rule. Ecology 52:845–854

    Google Scholar 

  • Mondolfi E, Hoogesteijn R (1986) Notes on the biology and status of the jaguar in Venezuela. In: Miller SD, Everett DD (eds) Cats of the World: Biology, Conservation, and Management. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D.C., pp 125–146

    Google Scholar 

  • Pianka ER (1973) The structure of lizard communities. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 4:53–74

    Google Scholar 

  • Pimm SL, Gittleman JL (1990) Carnivores and ecologists on the road to Damascus. Trends Ecol Evol 5:70–73

    Google Scholar 

  • Rabinowitz AR, Nottingham BG (1986) Ecology and behaviour of the jaguar (Panthera onca) in Belize, Central America. J Zool (Lond) 210:149–159

    Google Scholar 

  • Ralls K, Harvey PH (1985) Geographic variation in size and sexual dimorphism of North American weasels. Biol J Linn Soc 25:119–167

    Google Scholar 

  • Robinette WL, Gashwiler JS, Morris OW (1959) Food habits of the cougar in Utah and Nevada. J Wildl Manage 23:261–273

    Google Scholar 

  • Roelke ME (1987) Florida panther biomedical investigation. E-1-11 Annual performance report. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Comm. Tallahassee, FL pp 111

    Google Scholar 

  • Roelke ME, Jacobson ER, Kollias GV, Forrester DJ (1986) Medical management and biomedical findings on the Florida Panther, Felis concolor coryi. Annual report, Florida Panther Research Team, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission

  • Rosenzweig ML (1966) Community structure in sympatric carnivora. J Mammal 47:602–612

    Google Scholar 

  • Schaller GB (1983) Mammals and their biomass on a Brazilian ranch. Arq Zool (Sao Paulo) 31:1–36

    Google Scholar 

  • Schaller GB, Crawshaw PG Jr (1980) Movement patterns of jaguar. Biotropica 12:161–168

    Google Scholar 

  • Schaller GB, Vasconcelos JMC (1978) Jaguar predation on capybara. Z Säugetierk 43:296–301

    Google Scholar 

  • Schoener GB (1969) Models of optimal size for solitary predators. Am Nat 103:277–313

    Google Scholar 

  • Seidensticker JC (1976) On the ecological separation between tigers and leopards. Biotropica 8:225–234

    Google Scholar 

  • Spalding DJ, Lesowski J (1971) Winter food of the cougar in southcentral British Columbia. J Wildl Manage 35:378–381

    Google Scholar 

  • Sunquist ME, Sunquist FC (1989) Ecological constraints on predation by large felids. In: Gittleman JL (ed) Carnivore behavior ecology and evolution. Cornell University Press, pp 283–301

  • Toweill E, Meslow EC (1977) Food habits of cougar in Oregon. J Wildl Manage 41:576–578

    Google Scholar 

  • Vezina AF (1985) Empirical relationships between predator and prey size among terrestrial vertebrate predators. Oecologia 67:555–565

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson P (1984) Puma predation on guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Mammalia 48(4):515–522

    Google Scholar 

  • Yàñez J, Cardenas JC, Gezelle P, Jaksic FM (1986) Food habits of the southernmost mountain lions (Felis concolor) in South America: natural versus livestocked range. J Mammal 67:604–606

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Iriarte, J.A., Franklin, W.L., Johnson, W.E. et al. Biogeographic variation of food habits and body size of the America puma. Oecologia 85, 185–190 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00319400

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00319400

Key words

  • Puma
  • Jaguar
  • Food habits
  • Body size