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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Exploring Mountain Lion Habitat Connectivity in Central and Southern California

Oak tree on hillside overlooking ocean

Group Members: Alyssa Broberg Kibbe, Meghan Fletcher, Grace Kumaishi, Anna Talken, Nikole Vannest

Faculty Advisors: Kelly Caylor

Client: The Nature Conservancy



Final Report

Executive Summary

Final Presentation


The California landscape has been fragmented by urban development, infrastructure, and agriculture. Maintaining connectivity between areas of wildlife habitat is important for the viability of many long-ranging species, such as the mountain lion (Puma concolor). Mountain lion populations are highly susceptible to habitat fragmentation, and face reduced access to resources and decreased genetic diversity. This study explores the habitat connectivity between the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve (JLDP), a 24,460-acre protected property owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and neighboring protected areas to identify potential pathways of movement for mountain lions along the Central and Southern California coast. In this project, we: 1) determine regional connectivity and least cost paths between core habitats by modeling suitable mountain lion habitat, 2) estimate mountain lion habitat use and movement on JLDP by performing a site-level suitability and corridor analysis and 3) create a short film focused on highlighting our research, the role that JLDP plays in conservation, and the importance of habitat connectivity. The results of our project show that JLDP contains suitable habitat for mountain lions and may play a positive role in coastal connectivity. When considering the connectivity between JLDP and other regional protected areas, our analyses indicate that urbanized coastal regions act as barriers to mountain lions and contain pinch points that channelize movement. These results can guide TNC in developing management strategies for protecting mountain lions on JLDP and in the surrounding region.


Bren School: Kelly Caylor, Professor; Frank Davis, Professor; Ashley Larsen, Assistant Professor; Brian Lee, PhD Student; Lisa Leombruni, Lecturer; Peter Omasta, MESM 2021; Shuhan Song, MESM 2021; Benson Truong, MESM 2021; and Aj Zekanoski MESM 2021

The Nature Conservancy: Kelly Easterday, Heather Gately, Moses Katkowski, Diego Ortiz, Mark Reynolds, and Rae Wynn-Grant

Film and Media Contributors: Mark Girardeau and John Stuelpnagel 

Korinna Domingo, Founder and Director, Cougar Conservancy 

James S. Bower Foundation

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