Mammalian Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 476–483 | Cite as

Landscape genetics of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in southern Brazil

  • Camila Schlieper CastilhoEmail author
  • Luiz G. Marins-Sá
  • Rodrigo C. Benedet
  • Thales O. Freitas
Original Investigation


It is suggested that mountain lions have suffered a bottleneck and lost their genetic diversity in an area in southern Brazil. In this study, we correlated landscape connectivity and patterns of gene flow to identify landscape permeability and possible sources of migrants for the population of mountain lions in southern Brazil, using circuit theory. Population structure was analyzed with Bayesian methods, and density and parentage relationships were also estimated, to evaluate the population genetic profile. We did not find genetic structure between samples, and landscape analysis indicated that all individuals were connected by areas that are permeable to mountain lion movements. The estimated population density was low, 0.09 and 0.32 mountain lions/100 km 2 (Ne / N = 0.11 and Ne / N = 0.4, respectively). Parentage results indicated that individuals killed in the same spot were not related, suggesting that mountain lions are still able to disperse through the landscape. Evidence indicates that severe habitat loss and consequent illegal hunting were responsible for a bottleneck and consequent loss of genetic variability, we demonstrated that the landscape still allows mountain lions to move, and that protected areas in southern Brazil may be acting as a source of migrants. This information indicates that conservation actions to reduce illegal hunting and to monitor protected areas are important to understand the impact of hunted areas on source areas.

Key words

Landscape connectivity Dispersal Isolation-by-Resistance Gene flow Conservation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, A. 1983. A critical review of literature on puma (Felis concolor). Colorado Division of Wildlife. Wildlife Research Section. Special Report Number 54, 91.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, C.R., Lindzey, F.G., McDonald, D.B., 2004. Genetic structure of cougar populations across the Wyoming Basin: metapopulation or megapopulation. J. Mammal. 85, 1207–1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balkenhol, N., Gugerli, F., Cushman, S.A., Waits, L.P., Coulon, A., Arntzen, J.W., Holderegger, Wagner, H.H., 2009. Identifying future research needs in landscape genetics: here to from here? Landsc. Ecol. 24, 455–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beier, P., 1993. Determining minimum habitat areas and habitat corridors for cougars. Cons. Biol. 7, 94–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beier, P., 1995. Dispersal of juvenile cougars in fragmented habitat. J. Wildl. Manag. 59, 228–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beier, P., Choate, D., Barret, R.H., 1995. Movement patterns of mountain lions during different behaviors. J. Mammal. 76, 1056–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beier, P., Majka, D.R., Spencer, W.D., 2008. Forks in the road: choices in procedures for designing wildland linkages. Cons. Biol. 22, 836–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Castilho, C.S., Marins-Sá, L.G., Benedet, R.C., Freitas T.R.O., 2010. submitted for publication. Habitat loss and evidence of a bottleneck in mountain lions in southern Brazil.Google Scholar
  9. Culver, M., Johnson, W.E., Pecon-Slattery, J., O’Brien, S.J., 2000. Genomic ancestry of the American puma (Puma concolor). J. Hered. 91, 186–197.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Culver, M., Hedrick, P.W., Murphy, K., O’Brien, S., Hornocker, M.G., 2008. Estimation of the bottleneck size in Florida panthers. Anim. Cons. 11, 104–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DeSalle, R., Amato, G., 2004. The expansion of conservation genetics. Nat. Rev. Genet. 5, 702–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Doyle, J.J., Doyle, J.L., 1987. A rapid isolation procedure for small quantities of fresh leaf tissue. Phytochem. Bull. 9, 11–15.Google Scholar
  13. Eizirik, E., Indrusiak, C.B., Jonson, W.E., 2002. Análisis de la viabilidad de las poblaciones de Jaguar: evaluación de parámetros y estudios de caso en tres poblaciones remanentes del sur de Sudamérica. In: Medellín, R.A., Equihua, C., Chetkiewicz, Ch.L., Crawshaw, P.G., Rabinowitz, A., Redford, K.H. ET-AL (Eds.), El Jaguar en el Nuevo Milenio. Editorial Ediciones Científicas Universitarias, México, DF, Mexico, pp. 501–518.Google Scholar
  14. Ernest, H.B., Boyce, W.M., Bleich, V.C., May, B.P., Stiver, S.J., Torres, S.G., 2003. Genetic structure of mountain lion (Puma concolor) populations in California. Cons. Gen. 4, 353–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frankham, R., 1995. Effective Population Size/Adult Population Size Ratios in Wildlife: A Review, vol. 66. Genetic Research Cambridge, pp. 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frankham, R., Balloux, J.D., Briscoe, D., 2005. Introduction to Conservation Genetics. Cambridge University Press, 617 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Goodnight, K.F., Queller, D.C., Poznansky, T., 1998. KINSHIP 1.2. Goodnight Software. Rice University, Houston, TX.Google Scholar
  18. Haag, T., 2009. Genética da conservação e ecologia molecular de onças-pintadas (Panthera onca, Felidae). PhD Thesis. UFRGS, Brazil. 150 pp.Google Scholar
  19. IUCN, 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species., downloaded in April 2009.
  20. Kelly, M.J., et al., 2008. Estimating puma densities from camera trapping across three study sites: Bolivia, Argentina, Belize. J. Mammal. 89, 408–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kumar, S., Tamura, K., Nei, M., 2004. Mega3: integrated software for molecular evolutionary genetics analysis and sequence alignment. Brief. Bioinform. 5, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kurushima, J.D., Collins, J.A., Well, J.A., Ernest, H.B., 2006. Development of 21 microsatellite loci for puma (Puma concolor) ecology and forensics. Mol. Ecol. Notes 6, 1260–1262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. LaRue, M.A., Nielsen, C.K., 2008. Modelling potential dispersal corridors for cougars in Midwestern North America using least-cost path methods. Ecol. Model. 212, 372–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lindzey, F.G., Van Sicle, W.D., Ackerman, B.B., Barnhust, D., Hemker, T.P., Laing, S.P., 1994. Cougar population dynamics in southern Utah. J. Wildl. Manag. 58, 619–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Logan, K.A., Irwin, L.L., Skinner, R.L., 1986. Characteristics of a hunted mountain lion population in Wyoming. J. Wildl. Manag. 50, 648–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Logan, K.A., Sweanor, L.L., 2001. Desert Puma: Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation of an Enduring Carnivore. Island Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  27. Luo, S.J., Johnson, W.E., David, V.A., Menotti-Raymond, M., Stanyon, R., Cai, Q.X., Beck, T., Yuhki, N., Pecon-Slattery, J., Smith, J.L.D., O’Brien, S.J., 2007. Development of Y chromosome intraspecific polymorphic markers in the Felidae. J. Hered. 98, 400–413.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Lyra-Jorge, M.C., Ciocheti, G., Pivello, V.R., 2008. Carnivore mammals in a fragmented landscape in northeast of São Paulo State, Brazil. Biodivers. Cons. 17, 1573–1580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mace, O.M., Lande, R., 1991. Assessing extinction threats: towards a reevaluation of IUCN threatened species categories. Cons. Biol. 5, 148–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Manel, S., Schwartz, M.K., Luikart, G., Taberlet, P., 2003. Landscape genetics: combining landscape ecology and population genetics. TREE 18, 189–197.Google Scholar
  31. Marins-Sá, L.G., 2005. Análise de predação de Puma concolor em rebanhos domésticos na região do Parque Nacional de São Joaquim e entorno, SC, Brasil. M.Sc. Thesis. Curso de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia UFRGS: Porto Alegre 52 pp.Google Scholar
  32. Marshall, T.C., Slate, J., Kruuk, L.E.B., Pemberton, J.M., 1998. Statistical confidence for linkelihood-based paternity inference in natural populations. Mol. Ecol. 7, 639–655.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Mazzolli, M., 1993. Ocorrência de Puma concolor (Linnaeus) (Felidae, Carnívora) em áreas de vegetação remanescente de Santa Catarina, Brasil. Rev. Bras. Zool. 10, 581–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mazzolli, M. 2006. Persistência e riqueza de mamíferos focais em sistemas agropecuários no planalto meridiano brasileiro. Ph.D. Thesis. UFRGS, Brazil 105 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Mazzolli, M., Graipel, M.E., Dunstone, N., 2002. Mountain lion depredation in southern Brazil. Biol. Cons. 105, 43–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McRae, B.H., 2006. Isolation by resistance. Evolution 60, 1551–1561.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. McRae, B.H., Beier, P., 2007. Circuit theory predicts gene flow in plant and animal populations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104, 19885–19890.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McRae, B.H., Beier, P., Dewald, L.E., Huynh, Y., Keim, P., 2005. Habitat barriers limit gene flow and illuminate historical events in a wide-ranging carnivore, the American puma. Mol. Ecol. 14, 1965–1977.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McRae, B.H., Dickson, B.G., Keitt, T.H., Shah, V.B., 2008. Using circuit theory to model connectivity in ecology, evolution, and conservation. Ecology 89, 2712–2724.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McRae, B.H., Shah, V.B., 2009. Circuitscape User Guide. ONLINE. The University of California, Santa Barbara, Available at: Scholar
  41. Menotti-Raymond, M., David, V.A., Lyons, L.A., Schaffer, A.A., Tomlin, J.F., Hutton, M.K., O’Brien, S.J., 1999. A genetic linkage map of microsatellites in the domestic cat (Felis catus). Genomics 57, 9–23.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Miller, M.P., 2005. Alleles in Space: computer software for the join analysis of interindividual spatial and genetic information. J. Hered. 96, 722–724.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Miotto, R.A., Rodrigues, F.P., Ciocheti, G., Galetti, P.M., 2007. Determination of the minimum population size of pumas (Puma concolor) through fecal DNA analysis in two protected Cerrado areas in the Brazilian Southeast. Biotropica 39, 647–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. MMA & Fundação Biodiversitas 2008. Livro vermelho da fauna brasileira ameaçada de extinção. Ed. Machado, A.B.M., Drummond, G.M., Paglia, A.P. Brasília, DF, Belo Horizonte.Google Scholar
  45. Moreno, V.R., Grisolia, A.B., Campagnari, F., Milazzotto, M., Adania, C.H., Garcia, J.F., Souza, E.B., 2006. Genetic variability of Herpailurus yagouaroundi, Puma concolor and Panthera onca (Mammalia, Felidae) studied using Felis catus microsatellites. Genet. Mol. Biol. 29, 290–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nowell, K., Jackson, P., 1996. Wild Cats: Status, Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  47. Nunney, L., 1993. The influence of mating system and overlapping generations on effective population size. Evolution 47, 1329–1341.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Nunney, L., Campbell, K.A., 1993. Assessing minimum viable population size: demography meets population genetics. TREE 8, 234–239.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Paviolo, A., Di Blanco, Y.E., De Angelo, C.D., Di Bitetti, 2009. Protection affects the abundance and activity patterns of pumas in the Atlantic Forest. J. Mammal. 90, 926–934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pierce, B.M., Bleich, V.C., Jenkins, R.T., 2000. Social organization of mountain lions: does a land tenure system regulate population size? Ecology 81, 1533–1543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pritchard, J.K., Stephens, M., Donelly, P., 2000. Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics 155, 945–959.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  52. Riley, S.J., Malecki, R.A., 2001. A landscape analysis of cougar distribution and abundance in Montana, USA. Environ. Manag. 28, 317–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Robinson, H.S., Wielgus, R.B., Cooley, H.S., Cooley, S.W., 2008. Sink populations in carnivore management: cougar demography and immigration in a hunted population. Ecol. Appl. 18, 1028–1037.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. Rodzen, J.A., Banks, J.D., Meredith, E.P., Jones, K.C., 2007. Characterization of 37 microsatellite loci in mountain lions (Puma concolor) for use in forensic and population applications. Cons. Gen. 8, 1239–1241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ross, P.I., Jalkotzy, M.G., 1992. Characteristics of a hunted population of cougars in southwestern Alberta. J. Wildl. Manag. 56, 417–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ruiz-Garcia, M., Pacheco, L.F., Alvarez, D., 2009. Caracterización genética del puma andino boliviano (Puma concolor) en el Parque Nacional Sajama (PNS) y relaciones con otras poblaciones de puma del noroccidente de Sudamérica. Rev. Chil. Hist. Nat. 82, 97–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ruth, T., Logan, K.A., Sweanor, L., Hornocker, M.G., Temple, L.J., 1998. Evaluating cougar translocation in New Mexico. J. Wildl. Manag. 62, 1264–1275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sambrook, J.E., Fritsch, F., Maniatis, T., 1989. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  59. Shaw, H.G., Beier, P., Culver, M., Grigiore, M., 2007. Puma Field Guide. The Cougar Network.Google Scholar
  60. Silveira, L., 2004. Ecologia comparada e conservação da onça-pintada (Panthera onca) e onça-parda (Puma concolor), no Cerrado e Pantanal. Ph.D. Thesis, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil.Google Scholar
  61. Stoner, D.C., Rieth, W.R., Wolfe, M.L., Mecham, M.B., Neville, A., 2008. Long-distance dispersal of a female cougar in basin and range landscape. J. Wildl. Manag. 72, 933–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Storfer, A., Murphy, M.A., Evans, J.S., Goldberg, C.S., Robinson, S., Spear, S.F., Dezzani, R., Delmelle, E., Vierlin, L., Waits, L.P., 2007. Putting the ‘landscape’ in landscape genetics. Heredity 98, 128–142.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  63. Sweanor, L.L., Logan, K.A., Hornocker, M.G., 2000. Cougar dispersal patterns, metapopulation dynamics and conservation. Cons. Biol. 14, 798–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Thompson, D.J., Jenks, J.A., 2005. Long-distance dispersal by a subadult male cougar from the Black Hills, South Dakota. J. Wildl. Manag. 69, 818–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Trolle, M., Noss, A.J., Lima, E.S., Dalponte, J.C., 2007. Camera-trap studies of maned wolf density in the Cerrado and the Pantanal of Brazil. Biodivers. Cons. 16, 1197–1204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Van Oosterhout, C., Hutchinson, W.F., Wills, D.P.M., Shipley, P., 2004. MICROCHECKER: software for identifying and correcting genotyping errors in microsatellite data. Mol. Ecol. Notes 4, 535–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Walker, C.W., Harveson, L.A., Pittman, M.T., Tewes, M.E., Honeycutt, R.L., 2000. Microsatellite variation in two populations of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in Texas. Southw. Nat. 45, 196–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Waples, R.S., 2006. A bias correction for estimates of effective population size based on linkage disequilibrium at unlinked gene loci. Cons. Gen. 7, 167–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camila Schlieper Castilho
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Luiz G. Marins-Sá
    • 2
  • Rodrigo C. Benedet
    • 3
  • Thales O. Freitas
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de GenéticaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto Serrano de Conservação da NaturezaUrubiciBrazil
  3. 3.Projeto PumaLagesBrazil

Personalised recommendations