College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Pumas (Puma concolor) were eliminated from most of the eastern USA a century ago. In the past couple of decades, their recovery in the West has increased puma dispersal into the Midwest, with some individuals even traveling to the East Coast. We combined published expert opinion data and a habitat suitability index in an analysis that identified 17 areas in the Upper Midwest, Ozarks, Appalachia, and New England that could potentially host puma populations in the future. Thirteen of these were larger than 10,000 km2 and so likely to ensure a puma population’s long-term genetic health. Further, we quantified patch size, human density, livestock density, percent public land, and a sociocultural index reflecting wildlife values for comparing patches, as well as present a summary of current legislation relevant to puma management in the East. Our work may be useful in identifying suitable areas to restore pumas based not only on the quality of their biophysical habitat, but also on social values conducive to puma-human coexistence.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Determining puma habitat suitability in the Eastern USA.
Biodiversity and Conservation.
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© The Author(s) 2022. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-022-02529-z