Conservation and Protection of Santa Monica Mountain Lions
Organized by: Kimberly Orozco
Event Name: CGI U Commitments Challenge 2016
The mountain lion, Puma concolor, population in the mountains of the greater Los Angeles area are suffering from horrible habitat loss, loss of genetic diversity, and threats caused by increasing human development. These factors are a serious problem to an already endangered population. Steven McOrist, member of the International union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that “areas of intensification of agriculture, urbanization, and the building of major roads, appear also to have a detrimental effect on wildcats.” (McOrist et al., 1996) If more mountain lions continue to be hit while crossing U.S. Highway 101, fewer individuals in the population will lead to inbreeding, as is currently the case with lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. These animals are on an isolated bed of land, “trapped on an island of habitat, constrained by freeways, the Pacific Ocean and the agricultural fields of Oxnard.” (Groves, 2014) Further inbreeding will make the mountain lion population even more susceptible to disease and birth abnormalities. Biologists Mark DeRose and Derek Roff wrote about inbreeding in mammals and pointed out that, “inbreeding depression, which is defined as the decrease in mean trait value with inbreeding, only occurs if there is nonadditive genetic variance,… ” (DeRose et al., 1999) With decreased roaming area and decreased fitness due to loss of genetic variance, the lions could very easily enter into an extinction vortex where very small demographic stochasticity input could potentially push mountain lions over the brink of extinction.
Money raised will directly head towards what the National Park Service and national conservation and wildlife protection agencies in the Santa Monica Mountains thinks is best. The building of a wildlife corridor over the 101 Highway for wildlife to roam, far over the speeding cars, is in the works here in Los Angeles. As we work and discuss ideas with city officials, the money raised will go towards the building of that much needed wildlife corridor.