Mountain lions and coyotes

In an earlier blog, we discussed spatial and temporal niches. Spatial and temporal niches are examples of niche differentiation. Niche differentiation is a survival strategy that two or more species employ to ensure their continued existence — especially in situations where they may otherwise compete with one another for resources. With this in mind, how would coyotes (Canis latrans) and mountain lions (Puma concolor) share the landscape?

Mountain lions do occasionally kill coyotes, so it’s obviously wise for these canines to steer clear of lions whenever possible. Mountain lions and coyotes employ different hunting strategies, making it easier for these competitors to coexist. Cats are notorious stalk and ambush predators. As such, they generally prefer habitats with dense cover and ample places to hide from their potential prey. Coyotes, on the other hand, more frequently hunt in wide-open spaces. Because these two predators hunt in different ways, they can often avoid an altercation.

Since both of these predators can survive in different spatial niches, the two can avoid one another with relative ease. Can you think of any other ways that coyotes and mountain lions might coexist?

Denise Peterson

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