Camera-trap study provides photographic evidence of pumas' ecological impact
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A camera-trap study of two ecosystems – one with pumas and one without – adds to scientists’ understanding of the many ways apex predators influence the abundance, diversity and habits of other animals, including smaller carnivores.
Reported in the journal Ecosphere, the study followed multiple members of the order Carnivora, looking at how the largest carnivore in each locale influenced the behavior and presence of other animals in the same vicinity.
“Nobody’s really looked at how the whole carnivore community changes when you lose that top predator,” said Alex Avrin, who led the research as an M.S. student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with Max Allen, a research scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey and professor of natural resources and environmental sciences at the U. of I. Avrin is now a scientist with the California Fish and Wildlife Service.