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How habitat fragmentation affects mountain lions

Narrator:       This is Science Today. For over three years, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have been tracking mountain lions to document how human development in the environment affects the predators' habits. Chris Wilmers, who leads the Puma Project, says at the heart of the study is what's called habitat fragmentation.

Wilmers:        So, habitat fragmentation is something that's really occurring almost all over the world, where human development creates a mosaic of habitat which once may have been completely wild into fragments of habitats fragmented by houses and roads and farms.

Narrator:       Wilmers and his team have found that habitat fragmentation can have a dramatic effect on the behavior of the pumas that they track in California's Santa Cruz Mountains.

Wilmers:        For instance, mountain lions try to stay away from human development, but they're more likely to come near rural homes when they're moving around and looking for food than they are when they're trying to find mates and raise a litter of kittens. So, when they're engaged in reproductive behaviors, they try to give human development a really wide berth.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.