Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Puma Connectivity and Landscape Genetics in the Southwestern US to Resolve the Source of Newly Established Puma Populations at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

January 2010 - December 2015


Participating Agencies

  • Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

Goal: Approximately 500 tissue samples from hunter-harvested individuals have been collected throughout Arizona in the 2008-2012 hunting seasons for genetic analysis. Additional samples from New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, California, and Mexico have been obtained. These samples have been analyzed using microsatellite DNA markers and puma SNP markers which, combined, give high resolution for recent gene flow. Analysis of the data will determine if major highways in Arizona are disrupting gene flow for Arizona pumas. In addition, overall genetic diversity and population size estimates for puma populations sampled will be performed. Of particular interest is the source population for pumas newly established on the Kofa mountain complex of southwestern Arizona. We have generated relatedness (including parentage and kinship) estimates through a comparison of the genotypes of recently identified individual pumas on the Kofa mountain complexes with those of puma populations obtained in Arizona, California and Mexico. And identified the geographic locations of pumas most closely related to those recently identified on the Kofa mountain complexes. The most closely related populations are south of the Kofa including Mexico, and we have mapped puma movement/dispersal corridors connecting mountain complexes in southwest Arizona.