Research team finds Pumas exhibiting behavior like social animals

Research team finds Pumas exhibiting behaviors like social animals

Pumas are considered solitary carnivores and researchers have believed that they are less social compared to other big cats. However, new research paper published in the journal Science Advances has found surprisingly high social elements among Pumas. Researchers have earlier reported that Pumas mainly interact during mating, raising offspring and when they have to settle territory disputes.

The research was conducted in mountain ranges in northwest Wyoming by a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis and the American Museum of Natural History. The research was conducted using GPS devices and motion-tracking cameras. Mark Lubell, director of the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior said, "Our research shows that food sharing among this group of mountain lions is a social activity, which cannot be explained by ecological and biological factors alone."

Researchers have assumed in the past that Pumas generally avoid each other and hunt for their prey on their own. The new research has reported that Pumas interacted every 11-12 days during winters.

"It's the complete opposite of what we've been saying about pumas and solitary species for over 60 years," said Mark Elbroch, lead scientist with the Panthera Puma Program. "We were shocked. This research allows us to break down mythologies and question what we thought we knew."

The study paper further informed…
Every puma participated in a "network" of individuals sharing food with each other. Each puma co-fed with another puma at least once during the study, and many of them fed with other pumas many times.

Choosing individuals with whom to share meals was not random or reserved for family members. The pumas seemed to recall who shared food with them in the past -- and were 7.7 times more likely to share with those individuals. This is usually only documented with social animals.

Males received more free meat than females, and males and females likely benefited differently from social interactions. Males got meat, while females likely received social investments facilitating mating opportunities.