Mountain lions living in Greater Los Angeles may face extinction risk within next 50 years

Mountain lions living in Greater Los Angeles may face extinction risk within next 50 years

UCLA and National Park Service wildlife ecologists have warned that the Greater Los Angeles’ mountain lions can probably face risk of extinction in the coming half century if the population stays cut off due to freeways and other kinds of human development.

There are nearly 15 pumas left in the Santa Monica Mountains, isolated from the rest of their species due to numerous man-made constructions. With the entry of nearly no new cats in the region, the gene pool in local lions has become monotonous and in the absence of more genetic diversity, they will be at extinction risk.

During the study, appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B this week, wildlife ecologist John Benson of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science and his colleagues relied on 13 years of tracking and genetic data from the National Park Service to make an estimation about the chances that the mountain lions will stay alive for long term in the Santa Monica range.

The results have provided both good and bad news for the big cats, inhabiting 150,000-acre area covered by the 101 and 405 freeways to the north and east and Oxnard agricultural fields to the west.

The good news is that at present the population is stable and possesses some growth potential in the coming 25 years or so. But unfortunately the long-term scenario is very uncertain.

The mountain lions are at a moderate 15% to 22% extinction risk due to their small population size and geographic isolation solely. In contrast to a bigger population that is buffered against the extinction threat by a chance occurrence, death of even one of the 15 pumas may have huge after effects on the animals. There are just two male lions dominating most of the breeding in the Santa Monica Mountains.


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