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Mar 20, 2019

Local extinction of Southern California mountain lions possible within 50 years

Posted by in categories: existential risks, genetics

Two isolated mountain lion populations in southern California’s Santa Ana and Santa Monica Mountains are at risk of local extinction, perhaps as soon as within 50 years, according to a study published in the journal Ecological Applications.

The study showed the extinction risk is due to low genetic diversity and mortality that affects the stability of the population. Mountain mortality is often caused by humans, but can also result from changes in the environment, such as wildfire and fluctuations in prey density.

The two mountain lion populations in the human-dominated landscape of southern California are isolated by freeways and development. For the study, lead author John Benson of the University of Nebraska and co-authors at UCLA, the University of California, Davis, the National Park Service, the University of Washington, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Wyoming used population viability modeling to predict the possibilities of extinction from genetic and demographic risk factors.

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