Data from: Puma energetics: laboratory oxygen consumption and GPS information from free-ranging individuals
Williams, Terrie et al. (2020), Data from: Puma energetics: laboratory oxygen consumption and GPS information from free-ranging individuals, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4qrfj6q6w
Under current scenarios of climate change and habitat loss, many wild animals, especially large predators, are moving into novel energetically challenging environments. Consequently, changes in terrain associated with such moves may heighten energetic costs and effect the decline of populations in new localities.
To examine locomotor costs of a carnivorous mammal moving in mountainous habitats, the oxygen consumption of captive pumas (Puma concolor) was measured during treadmill locomotion on level and incline (6.8ᵒ) surfaces. These data were used to predict energetic costs of locomotor behaviours of free-ranging pumas equipped with GPS/accelerometer collars in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.
Incline walking resulted in a 42.0%±7.2 SEM increase in transport costs compared to level performance. Wild pumas modified their locomotor behaviour in response to terrain steepness by traversing the mean hillside incline of 17.2ᵒ±0.3 SEM and choosing shallower paths of 7.3ᵒ±0.1 SEM. Pumas also walked more slowly up steeper paths, thereby minimizing the energetic impact of vertical terrains. Estimated daily energy expenditure of (DEE) based on GPS-derived speeds of free-ranging pumas was 18.3 MJ day-1 ±0.2 SEM. Calculations show that a 20ᵒ increase in mean terrain steepness would increase DEE by <1% as pumas spent a small (10%) proportion of their day travelling and avoided elevated costs by utilizing slower speeds and shallower paths.
While many factors influence survival in novel habitats, we illustrate the importance of behaviours which reduce locomotor costs when traversing new, energetically challenging environments, and demonstrate that these behaviours are utilised by pumas in the wild.