Consistent with other studies, the home ranges of male mountain lions being followed by the NPS in this study are larger than those of female lions (~400 square kilometers vs. ~100 square kilometers). Most male mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains have used the entire mountain range, from Point Mugu State Park in the west to Topanga State Park to the east, at some point in their life. Young males also utilized areas at the extreme edge of the mountains bordering freeways and urban areas. Park biologists speculate that these young males were attempting to disperse outside the home range of adult males, but were unable to do so because of development and freeways.
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Based on the sizes of lion home ranges, it is clear that the Santa Monica Mountains are only large enough, by themselves, to support a mountain lion population of 10 or fewer animals. This low number is not sufficient to maintain long-term viability. Genetic analyses indicate that these lions have low genetic diversity, and that they are more closely related to lions in the coast range, including far to the north up to Big Sur, than to lions in the much closer Santa Ana Mountains which are separated from the study area by the Los Angeles Basin. To sustain genetic diversity and to replenish the population when animals die, it is critical that connectivity is established or maintained between the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, Santa Susana Mountains, and ultimately to the Sierra Madre Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest.
Did You Know?
A study that began in 2002 reveals a lion and his offspring are surviving in the Santa Monica Mountains. Radio collars track them crossing roads and navigating through open spaces. Their future is uncertain, but with conservation efforts, they may continue to make these mountains their home.