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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, December 25, 2015

As any of you who have been to Southern California know, the Los Angeles to San Diego corridor is one unbroken sea of development, making it perilous for all other lifeforms(some would say all lifeforms) except humans to thrive................We have previously discussed the proposed L.A. 101 Freeway wildlife overpass being contemplated to assist Puma, Coyote, Deer, Bobcat, et al. gene flow,,,,,,,,,,Today, we focus on the recent UC Davis study pointing to the fact that only one of the 42 Pumas investigated in the Santa Ana Mountains during 2001-02 had genes characteristic of the those cats in the Peninsular Ranges running east of San Diego...................Wildlife overpass/underpass near Temecula, California would greatly assist in driving down the incidence of interbreeding now very much in evidence in this region

Habitat Loss Hurts Mountain Lions in the Santa Ana Range, Too

We've written a fair amount here at Rewild about the plight of pumas in the Santa Monica Mountains, cut off from their fellow lions by freeways to and from the San Fernando Valley. Without an easy way to meet and mate with pumas elsewhere, lions in the Santa Monicas are inbreeding, and that's bad for the cats' long-term survival.

And that problem isn't just limited to the Santa Monica Mountains. A study shows that the Santa Ana Mountains have become a similar isolated island for pumas that live there, cut off from their neighbors in the nearby Peninsular Ranges by increasing human development.
The two puma populations, once separated by just 15 or 20 miles of easily navigable foothills near Temecula, are now quite distinct in their genetic makeup -- and the study's authors suggest that much of the reason may be the 10 lanes of high-speed freeway known as Interstate 15.

The study, published recently in the journal Public Library of Science, was conducted by Holly Ernest, T. Winston Vickers, Michael Buchalski, and Walter Boyce of UC Davis, along with Scott Morrison from The Nature Conservancy.

The 101 Freeway in Los Angeles(below) like the 5 and I 15 in Orange County
and San Diego are major impediments to Puma's spreading their genes

The researchers collected DNA from 97 pumas in in San Diego, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, either when the cats were captured for radio telemetry studies or in cases when individual pumas were shot due to livestock depredation or public safety reasons. 42 of the samples were collected in the Santa Ana Mountains, and the remainder in the Peninsular Ranges to the east. All the samples were collected between 2001 and 2012.
Study and comparison of different genetic markers in the samples confirmed that, as long suspected, the pumas in the Santa Ana Mountains have been inbreeding for a long time. Of the 42 Santa Ana pumas sampled, just one, dubbed M86 (with the M standing for "male"), had genes characteristic of the Peninsular puma population. He had apparently sired four kittens in the Santa Anas, each of which had a partial complement of Peninsular genes.
Aside from M86's progeny, none of the other mountain lions in the Santa Ana samples showed evidence of having Peninsular pumas in their recent ancestry. The study's authors calculated the length of separation necessary to generate that marked a divergence between two geographically close populations of pumas, and figured that the genetic bottleneck for Santa Ana Mountains pumas started between 40 and 80 years ago.
It was about 40 years ago, of course, that the era of freeway building in Southern California was at its peak.
"It is likely that the potential for connectivity between the Santa Ana Mountains and the Peninsular Range-East region will continue to be eroded by ongoing increases in traffic volumes on I-15," write the authors, "and conversion of unconserved lands along the I-15 corridor by development and agriculture."
"These findings raise concerns about the current status of the Santa Ana Mountains puma population, and the longer-term outlook for pumas across Southern California," the authors conclude. "Indeed, the Santa Ana Mountains pumas may well serve as harbingers of potential consequences throughout California and the western United States if more attention is not paid to maintaining connectivity for wildlife as development progresses."

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