Collared puma, LM2, with elk kill I am a community ecologist primarily interested in conservation. My current research focus is on the ecology and management of puma (cougar or mountain lion) in southcentral New Mexico and Arizona.

What I do

My work (and play) is spent in South Carolina, New Mexico, and South Africa primarily. Almost half of my time is spent in New Mexico conducting research and teaching Furman's WILD SEMESTER. The last portion of the Wild Semester is spent in South Africa. I occassionally do research there as well.

Furman Natural History Collection Puma Display

Female Puma Attacking Desert Bighorn Ram A female puma (aka cougar or mountain lion) (Puma concolor) preying on a desert bighorn ram (Ovis canadensis mexicana). Skeleton mounts built by the talented Brian Johnson.
Desert bighorn sheep are a recently recovered species in New Mexico. To many the bighorn are majestic icons of the american wilderness. Puma predation on recovering desert bighorn populations presented considerable challenges to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the recovery effort. Not the least of these complications arose from the fact that the puma is perhaps more revered as an awe inspiring symbol of all that we hope to conserve in the natural world. And, as an apex predator these big cats play a vital role in the structure of ecological communities and in ecosystem function. Furman is extremely fortunate to have this unique natural history display, showcasing not only the magnificence of these two species, but also the complicated realities of conservation in practice. Both the puma and the bighorn specimens are from the Fra Cristobal Mountains of New Mexico and were actual players in this conservation story.

The two skeletons were obtained during my sabbatical research on puma (cougar or mountain lion) in southcentral New Mexico.

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