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Wildlife must navigate the confusing maze of disconnected habitats and urban barriers that crisscross the Los Angeles landscape to access habitat, food, and mates. A collaborative project surveying the habitats over Hollywood is playing paparazzi to mountain lions, deer, and other beasts to study the critical question of landscape connectivity.



A snapshot from the first-known photos of P-22, the Griffith Park mountain lion. --Photographer: USGS

HOLLYWOOD WILDLIFE

How does the mountain lion cross the road? Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are just one of many wildlife species that must navigate the confusing maze of disconnected habitats and urban barriers that crisscross the Los Angeles landscape. Yet, these seemingly disconnected wildernesses may be linked, and how animals are moving across freeways and other urban features to access habitat, food, and mates is an important question for scientists and land managers in Southern California.

The Griffith Park Connectivity Study uses remotely-triggered cameras to study the movement of large and medium-sized mammals to and from Griffith Park and the surrounding open space. This is the first project to evaluate movement of wide-ranging species through potential corridors that may connect the Griffith Park region to neighboring natural areas.

A joint effort of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, Cooper Ecological Monitoring, and supported by the Friends of Griffith Park, the study made its biggest splash in early 2012, when project cameras snapped photo confirmation of a mountain lion using Griffith Park as a habitat corridor. Later tagged and released by the National Park Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the male mountain lion now dubbed "P-22" has since starred in National Geographic photo galleries and is a center of public attention.

Landscape connectivity is important for the maintenance of natural biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and requires animal movement across highways and other urban features. By studying the movement of large and medium-sized mammals to and from Griffith Park, we can identify potential corridors that may connect the Griffith Park region to other natural areas, and inform the management decisions of the National Park Service and municipal planning agencies. 

www.werc.usgs.gov/griffithpark
gpconnectivity.blogspot.com 

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