Are Mountain Lions Ecosystem Engineers?

According to a recent publication by Panthera, ecosystem engineers are “animals that create or modify habitat in ways that increase biodiversity.” One example of an ecosystem engineer that springs to mind is the beaver. Beavers modify their environment by building dams, effectively altering waterways.

But what about mountain lions (Puma concolor)? Are they ecosystem engineers? Panthera researchers Mark Elbroch and Josh Barry make the argument that, yes, these wild cats most certainly have an impact on the environment that promotes biodiversity. They accomplish this by leaving behind carrion, or the carcasses of their prey. These leftovers actually improve the overall health and resiliency of an ecosystem, while also feeding an array of birds and mammals.

To learn more about their study, click here! In this podcast, you can listen as Elbroch and Barry talk about their study in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Suffice it to say, their results are most fascinating!

Denise Peterson

Comments are closed.