Cooperative Research Units
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Predation rates and use of habitats and wildlife drinkers by mountain lions


January 2015 - January 2019


For decades, State and Federal wildlife management agencies have built and supplied man-made water sources within desert landscapes, making surface water a consistent and stable feature of desert landscapes. This situation generates at least three concerns. First, water may lure ungulates from preferable areas (such as escape terrain) thereby increasing their risk of predation. Second, predators may linger near water sources to increase their chances of killing a visiting ungulate. Third, the water requirements have not been determined for most carnivores and it is unknown if they obtain sufficient water from the tissue of their prey or if they rely on free water, particularly in arid environments. Therefore, by providing water, agencies may make areas previously inhospitable for carnivores hospitable, exacerbating losses in ungulates that their management aims to reduce. Paradoxically, this infers that by providing surface water to increase ungulate populations, it may attract predators (and prey), thereby increasing kills on ungulate species. Therefore, this project begins evaluating the effect that wildlife drinkers have on how mountain lions use habitats, prey rates and species of prey killed. By doing so, the project will quantify how mountain lions use Chihuahuan Desert landscapes and the amount and type of prey killed -information sought by game and fish agencies. The project has two emphasis areas, namely: 1) building baseline information describing mountain lion use of Chihuahuan Desert habitats – home range sizes, movement rates, and habitat associations and 2) cataloging mountain lion prey rates and prey type. This baseline information will occur for approximately 1 year. Subsequently, we will block mountain lions use of wildlife drinkers and evaluate if changes occur in the above metrics.

Research Products and Activities


  • Prude, C.H., J.W. Cain III, and G. Harris. 2017. The influence of anthropogenic water on puma habitat use and prey selection in arid ecosystems. 12th Mountain Lion Workshop, Estes Park, Colorado, USA.
  • Prude, C.H., J.W. Cain III, and G. Harris. 2017. The influence of anthropogenic water on puma habitat use and prey selection in arid ecosystems. 24th Annual Conference of the Wildlife Society, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. (POSTER)

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 244

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 251

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 680

Scientific Publications: 1916

Presentations: 4259



Funding Agencies

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey