Tag: cascade

How fear of humans can ripple through food webs and reshape landscapes

A great article by Liza Gross at Smithsonian magazine on how fear of humans ripples through food webs – inspired by our recent paper.

In reality, neither the frogs nor the man were real; both were audio recordings. The big cat, a six-year-old male named 66M, was part of a seven-month “playback” experiment on 17 mountain lions led by Justine Smith, as part of her doctoral research at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Just beyond the deer carcass was a motion-sensitive video cam-speaker system that Smith and her colleagues with the Santa Cruz Puma Project had set up whenever they found fresh kills. The team could usually tell when the mountain lions (also called pumas, cougars and scores of other regional names) had snagged a deer, because their GPS collars revealed that the roving animals had visited the same spot several times during the night.

Read on here.

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Good news: Mountain lions are afraid of you, too

More on our puma fearing people paper from Peter Fimrite at the SF Chronicle and Paul Rogers at the San Jose Mercury news.

“People allude to this idea all the time — that mountain lions are more afraid of us than we are of them. But science has never shown that before,” said Chris Wilmers, an associate professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz who worked on the study. “When people go out hiking, some have a fear that mountain lions are going to attack them. But it turns out that mountain lions are quite afraid of people.”

The recordings that were played in the lion experiment were snippets of shows of TV and talk radio personalities, including liberal Rachel Maddow and conservative Rush Limbaugh.

“We used them because they were high-quality recordings,” Smith said. “But the pumas showed no partisanship. They all ran away from everyone.”

Our work was also featured in National Geographic, the New Scientist, Popular Science, and Newsweek.


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Alaska Bay Area British Columbia carbon cascade climate change collars connectivity corridor elk energetics evolution fear fish habitat fragmentation Lyme disease overexploitation predator puma salmon scavenger sea otter treadmill wolf Yellowstone