Good Mornin’ Ladies and Gents!! Thanks for finding your way back here. Last time we met I promised to let you know a little more about what we do here in the lab. My intention is to convey the potential broad-ranging impacts that this work may have on both animal and human populations. This will probably entail breaking the post into multiple segments. Hopefully I can set the hook on this one and reel you in with the next.

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Ecology of Infectious Diseases
program, the project with which I’m involved seeks to determine the effects
of anthropogenic influence (i.e urbanization and habitat fragmentation) on
disease prevalence and transmission in pumas, bobcats, and domestic felines.
Large carnivores (pumas and bobcats) are of particular interest because
their low population numbers and high resource requirements increase their susceptibility towards extinction. The loss of these top carnivores could cause drastic alterations of the local ecosystems as smaller species begin to thrive in the absence of natural predators. As such, the status of these larger species may provide valuable insight in future ecological
conservation planning.

Using GPS telemetry and computer modeling, it is possible to track the
movement patterns of individual animals. Because of their wide-ranging
habitats, we often see pumas and bobcats with overlapping territories in
rural and urbanized areas. As a result, there are various opportunities for
interactions between these two species and with domestic felines as well.
I’ll spare you the details of these direct interactions. But, I will tell
you that pumas are opportunistic feeders with secondary components of their diet consisting of small mammals (i.e bobcats and domestic cats). In
addition, bobcats also prey on domestic felines and may on occasion stumble upon a leftover puma-killed ungulate carcass. These direct and indirect interactions are of particular interest to us because they facilitate the transmission of a variety of diseases capable of infecting both humans and other animals, often with severe consequences.

That’s probably enough information to sink your teeth into for the time
being. I’ll be back next week (hopefully in one piece) to wrap up this
cliffhanger I left for you. For those who need just a litte more, I’m
posting a link to a short news article from the Denver ABC affiliate Channel
7. It provides a little more info on the project as well as a pretty cool
picture of a mountain lion captured by a motion-detected camera. Here’s the link: http://ping.fm/nVD2V

Thanks for reading everybody and may all of your glasses be filled,

Alex Griffith

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