At the National Park Service, wildlife ecologists are engaged in a long-term scientific study of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. In collaboration with the Park Service, La Kretz Postdoc Eric Abelson studied where and how often lions cross roads. His research sets the stage for environmental modifications that should reduce road mortality for lions and other large mammals in the mountains.

La Kretz postdoc John Benson integrated demographic, behavioral and genetic data collected by the NPS and UCLA researchers to ecologically model population viability, determining how long we can expect our mountain lion population to persist given its isolation and small size. John’s work suggests that a new immigrant lion every two to four years is necessary for our population to remain viable. Given how hard it is for lions to cross the 101 and 405 freeways, it may be time for human intervention.