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Data from: Response of pumas (Puma concolor) to migration of their primary prey in Patagonia

Cite this dataset

Branch, Lyn C. et al. (2018). Data from: Response of pumas (Puma concolor) to migration of their primary prey in Patagonia [Dataset]. Dryad.


Large-scale ungulate migrations result in changes in prey availability for top predators and, as a consequence, can alter predator behavior. Migration may include entire populations of prey species, but often prey populations exhibit partial migration with some individuals remaining resident and others migrating. Interactions of migratory prey and predators have been documented in North America and some other parts of the world, but are poorly studied in South America. We examined the response of pumas (Puma concolor) to seasonal migration of guanacos (Lama guanicoe) in La Payunia Reserve in northern Patagonia Argentina, which is the site of the longest known ungulate migration in South America. More than 15,000 guanacos migrate seasonally in this landscape, and some guanacos also are resident year-round. We hypothesized that pumas would respond to the guanaco migration by consuming more alternative prey rather than migrating with guanacos because of the territoriality of pumas and availability of alternative prey throughout the year at this site. To determine whether pumas moved seasonally with the guanacos, we conducted camera trapping in the summer and winter range of guanacos across both seasons and estimated density of pumas with spatial mark–resight (SMR) models. Also, we analyzed puma scats to assess changes in prey consumption in response to guanaco migration. Density estimates of pumas did not change significantly in the winter and summer range of guanacos when guanacos migrated to and from these areas, indicating that pumas do not follow the migration of guanacos. Pumas also did not consume more alternative native prey or livestock when guanaco availability was lower, but rather fed primarily on guanacos and some alternative prey during all seasons. Alternative prey were most common in the diet during summer when guanacos also were abundant on the summer range. The response of pumas to the migration of guanacos differs from sites in the western North America where entire prey populations migrate and pumas migrate with their prey or switch to more abundant prey when their primary prey migrates.

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