Home-range and habitat selection by adult cougars in southern California

Brett G. Dickson, Paul Beier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Understanding the impact of habitat fragmentation, roads, and other anthropogenic influences on cougars (Puma concolor) requires quantitative assessment of habitat selection at multiple scales. We calculated annual and multiyear home ranges using a fixed-kernel (FK) estimator of home range for 13 adult female and 2 adult male radiotagged cougars that were monitored October 1986 through December 1992 in the Santa Ana Mountain Range of southern California, USA. Using compositional analysis, we assessed diurnal use of vegetation types and areas near roads at 2 orders of selection (second- and third-order; Johnson 1980). Mean annual and multiyear 85% FK home ranges for males were larger than those reported by previous studies in California. Mean wet-season 85% FK home ranges were significantly larger than those of the dry, season. At both scales of selection and across seasons, cougars preferred riparian habitats and avoided human-dominated habitats, Grasslands were the most avoided natural vegetation type at both scales of selection. Although cougar home ranges tended to be located away from high- and low-speed 2-lane paved roads (second-order avoidance), cougars did not avoid roads within their home range, especially when roads were in preferred riparian areas. Protection of habitat mosaics that include unroaded riparian areas is critical to the conservation of this cougar population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1245
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • California
  • Compositional analysis
  • Cougar
  • Fixed-kernel home range
  • Habitat selection
  • Home range
  • Puma concolor
  • Riparian
  • Roads
  • Scale
  • Vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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