Puma concolor coryi - (Bangs, 1896)
Florida Panther
Other English Common Names: Florida panther
Synonym(s): Felis concolor coryi ;Felis concolor floridana ;Felis coryi
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101183
Element Code: AMAJH04011
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
Image 12041

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae Puma
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Hall, E. R. 1981a. The Mammals of North America, second edition. Vols. I & II. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. 1181 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B81HAL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Puma concolor coryi
Taxonomic Comments: Most recent taxonomic review was by Goldman (1946). Preliminary data indicated that this subspecies is genetically different from western U.S. populations (Roelke et al., cited by Maehr 1992). However, mtDNA analysis by Culver et al. (2000) indicated that Puma concolor was genetically homogeneous in overall variation across North America, relative to central and South American populations.

The population of free-ranging panthers in Florida is composed of two distinct genetic stocks; type A in Big Cypress National Preserve and adjacent lands consists of descendants of historic F. c coryi; type B, residing mainly in Everglades National Park, consists of descendants of mountain lions with mixed Florida-South American heritage, which were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s (Barone et al. 1994). Most authorities are concerned that abnormalities resulting from the loss of genetic diversity are driving the panther to extinction.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 03Apr1998
Global Status Last Changed: 19Nov1996
Rounded Global Status: T1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: While the species as a whole is not close to extinction, this formerly widespread subspecies has undergone a severe decline in numbers and range and is now restricted to a small area in southern Florida; numerous threats and a small population reduce the possibilities for this animal to recover, though the planned/ongoing introduction of individuals from other populations may result in a persistent population in Florida.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (05Sep1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SX), Arkansas (SX), Florida (S1), Louisiana (SH), Mississippi (SX), South Carolina (SH)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (11Mar1967)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix I

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Occurs primarily in swampland in southern Florida; apparently ranged formerly throughout the southeastern U.S., but now probably extirpated in states other than Florida. Occupies less than 15,000 sq km primarily in southern Florida: Fakahatchee Strand, Big Cypress National Preserve/Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, southern portion of Everglades Conservation Area, Everglades National Park (from Hole-in-the-Donut area northward), Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, and private ranches and preserves in parts of Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Glades counties (Maehr 1992, Matthews and Moseley 1990). Also recently known from Highlands, Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, Osceola, Volusia, and St. Johns counties, though reproduction has not been recorded in these areas (Maehr 1992).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: The only confirmed, extant panthers are in the south Florida Big Cypress-Everglades area; probably functions as one population, though will treat occupied areas as separate EORs until evidence for merging.

Population Size: 1 - 1000 individuals
Population Size Comments: The 1989 population was estimated at about 30 (census) to 50 (extrapolation) in the wild (Seal et al. 1989). As of 1989, 24 individuals had radio collars and about 10-25 had evaded capture or occupied private lands (Seal et al. 1989).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: A major limiting factor in southern Florida appears to be availability of suitable habitat (Belden et al. 1988). Habitat loss and alteration have resulted from logging, drainage, oil field activity, housing development, citrus agriculture, and road construction. Though continuing urbanization and agricultural development of habitat has been regarded as the greatest threat, mercury contamination apparently is another major threat, especially where panthers feed most extensively on raccoons (Jordan 1990, Roelke et al. 1992). Collisions with vehicles (most common around the Fakahatchee Strand) are the greatest known mortality factor, but these are relatively easy to document (Maehr 1992). Threatened also by loss of genetic variability, which evidently is responsible for recently observed congenital heart defects, reproductive abnormalities (high incidence of unilateral cryptorchidism) (Barone et al. 1994), and possible immune deficiencies. Hunting of deer (a primary food resource) may be an additional threat.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: USFWS (1990) categorized the status as "stable," but a recent population viability analysis indicated that under existing demographic and genetic conditions, the panther will likely be extinct in 25-40 years, or sooner (USFWS 1993).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: FL GFC should continue to inventory and monitor.

Protection Needs: Private ranchlands N of managed areas may contain substantial number of panthers; conservation agreements should be established where acquisition is unlikely. Basically, every "EOR" must be protected in some way. Hunting, ORV use, traffic, etc. should be restricted; food supplementation may be necessary. Captive propagation may be needed to counter threats from toxins, disease, and genetic bottleneck. Large tracts in northern Florida must be protected for future reintroductions.

In 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intent to revise the recovery plan for this subspecies.

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)) Occurs primarily in swampland in southern Florida; apparently ranged formerly throughout the southeastern U.S., but now probably extirpated in states other than Florida. Occupies less than 15,000 sq km primarily in southern Florida: Fakahatchee Strand, Big Cypress National Preserve/Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, southern portion of Everglades Conservation Area, Everglades National Park (from Hole-in-the-Donut area northward), Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, and private ranches and preserves in parts of Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Glades counties (Maehr 1992, Matthews and Moseley 1990). Also recently known from Highlands, Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, Osceola, Volusia, and St. Johns counties, though reproduction has not been recorded in these areas (Maehr 1992).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALextirpated, ARextirpated, FL, LA, MSextirpated, SC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Broward (12011), Charlotte (12015), Collier (12021), Glades (12043), Hendry (12051), Highlands (12055), Lee (12071), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Palm Beach (12099), Sarasota (12115), Seminole (12117)
MS Claiborne (28021)*, George (28039)*, Hancock (28045)*, Issaquena (28055)*, Jackson (28059)*, Marion (28091)*, Pearl River (28109)*, Sharkey (28125)*, Warren (28149)*, Washington (28151)*, Yazoo (28163)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Lake Okeechobee (03090201)+, Everglades (03090202)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Myakka (03100102)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Pascagoula (03170006)+*, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+*, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+*
08 Lower Mississippi-Greenville (08030100)+*, Upper Yazoo (08030206)+*, Big Sunflower (08030207)+*, Lower Yazoo (08030208)+*, Deer-Steele (08030209)+*, Lower Mississippi-Natchez (08060100)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+*, Bayou Pierre (08060203)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Florida Panther, Felidae.
General Description: A large cat with an elongate body, powerful limbs, small head, short face, short rounded ears, and long neck and tail; tawny above and whitish below; young are buffy with dark spots; sides of muzzle and backs of ears are black; end of tail is dark brown or blackish; adult total length around 220 cm in males, around 188 cm in females; mass 50-72 kg in males, 32-45 kg in females (Maehr 1992, Young and Goldman 1946).
Diagnostic Characteristics: A medium-sized, dark subspecies, with short, rather stiff pelage (Young and Goldman 1946). Subspecies characteristics reportedly include a dorsal hair whorl (cowlick), a crook at the end of the tail, and white flecking around the neck and shoulders, but the flecks may be environmentally induced (and occur in other subspecies) and the crooked tail and cowlick usually are absent in southeastern Florida (Maehr 1992). Differs from subspecies COUGUAR of the northeastern U.S. in having broader, higher, more inflated nasals and more evenly spreading zygomata (Young and Goldman 1946). Differs from subspecies STANLEYANA of Texas and HIPPOLESTES of Wyoming in darker pelage and greater general width and upward expansion of the nasals (Young and Goldman 1946).
Reproduction Comments: Polygamous mating apparently peaks in fall and winter. Gestation lasts about 90-96 days. Litter size ranges up to 6 (observed family groups generally have included 2-3 young). Young remain at the natal den for 2 months, stay with mother for about 12-18 months. Generally first breeds probably at about three years of age, though an 18-19-month-old females raised four kittens in her mother's home range (see Maehr 1992). Adult females produce litters every two years. See Matthews and Moseley (1990), Maehr (1992).
Ecology Comments: Basically solitary. Home range size averages around 400 sq km for males, 200 sq km for females; may vary with habitat quality and prey density; individual ranges overlap (Maehr 1992). Density was about 1 per 20 sq km in Big Cypress and Everglades regions, Florida (Seal et al. 1989). See Maehr (1992) for information on diseases and parasites.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Generally occurs in heavily forested areas in lowlands and swamps, also upland forests in some parts of range; areas with adequate deer or wild hog population. Habitats include tropical hammocks, pine flatwoods, cabbage palm forests, mixed swamp, cypress swamp, live oak hammocks, sawgrass marshes, and Brazilian pepper thickets; depends on large contiguous blocks of wooded habitat, though interspersed fields and early successional habitats may be beneficial through their positive effect on prey populations; day-use sites typically are dense patches of saw palmetto surrounded by swamp, pine flatwoods, or hammock (Maehr 1992). Dees et al. (2001) found a strong selection for pine stands burned within one year.

Young are born in dense thickets or fallen timber, or in other sites providing adequate cover.

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: In southwestern Florida, scat remains indicated that wild hog was most common prey, followed by white-tailed deer, raccoon, and armadillo (Maehr et al. 1990). The relative occurrence of these prey items in the diet depends on availability. In the Everglades, adult white-tailed deer were the most important prey; secondary prey were marsh rabbits and raccoons (Dalrymple and Bass 1996).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Diurnal activity is more common in winter than in summer. Activity appears to peak around sunrise and sunset. (Maehr 1992).
Length: 220 centimeters
Weight: 72000 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Large, wild areas in Southeast should be evaluated for possible reintroduction (Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission is doing this). Species survival plan (Seal et al. 1989) calls for immediate initiation of a captive breeding program, and continuation and expansion of the (a) reintroduction program, (b) habitat conservation program, and (c) management and monitoring of the wild population.

Where wild pigs are not available, may benefit from habitat management favorable to deer (Maehr 1992). Dees et al. (2001) found a strong habitat selection for pine stands burned within one year, which they suggested was the result of white-tailed deer and other prey responses to vegetation changes caused by fire. Direct supplemental feeding does not currently appear to be a viable management option (Maehr 1992).

Probably will benefit from fencing and wildlife underpasses being installed along Alligator Alley (I-75) in southwestern Florida (Foster and Humphrey 1992); use of underpasses has been documented (Maehr 1992). Closure of state highways 29 and 84 has been recommended.

Apparently tolerates a moderate level of human disturbance if cover and food requirements are met.

See Maehr (1992) for a summary of various conservation measures that have been taken and proposed. Maehr (1990) emphasized the need for habitat protection on private lands, which constitute about one-half of the presently known occupied range in south Florida.

USFWS (1993) published a notice of its intent to prepare an environmental assessment addressing potential genetic management options; one option is to restore historic gene flow into the panther from adjacent FELIS CONCOLOR subspecies. Releases of Texas cougars in three areas in Florida began in 1995 (Jordan 1996).

Final Florida Panther Habitat Preservation Plan became available in 1994 (contact Andrew Eller, Jr., telephone 813-353-2814). Draft revised recovery plan became available in late 1994 (contact Jacksonville field office of the USFWS).

Monitoring Requirements: See Johnson and Clark (1994) for information on the use of radiotelemetry to monitor panther behavior.
Management Research Needs: Study population dynamics and precise distribution and habitat requirements to determine most critical priorities.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Justification: Use the Generic Element Occurrence Rank Specifications (2008).
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 07Feb2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jackson, D. R., G. Hammerson, and D. L. Hipes
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 19Dec1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Barone, M. A., et al. 1994. Reproductive characteristics of male Florida panthers: comparative studies from Florida, Texas, Colorado, Latin America, and North American zoos. J. Mammalogy 75:150-162.

  • Belden, R. C., et al. 1988. Panther habitat use in southern Florida. J. Wildlife Management 52:660-663.

  • Bowers, A. K., L. D. Lucio, D. W. Clark, S. P. Rakoe, and G. A. Heidt. 2001. Early History of the Wolf, Black Bear, and Mountain Lion in Arkansas. J. Ark. Acad. Sci. 55:22-27.

  • Clark, D. W., S. C. White, A. K. Bowers, L. D. Lucio, and G. A. Heidt. 2002. A Survey of Recent Accounts of the Mountain Lion (Puma Concolor) in Arkansas. Southeastern Nat., 1:269-278.

  • Culver, M., W. E. Johnson, J. Pecon-Slattery, and S. J. O'Brien. 2000. Genomic ancestry of the American puma (PUMA CONCOLOR). Journal of Heredity 91:186-197.

  • Dalrymple, G. H., and O. L. Bass, Jr. 1996. The diet of the Florida panther in Everglades National Park, Florida. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History 39(5):173-193.

  • Dees, C. S., J. D. Clark, and F. T. Van Manen. 2001. Florida Panther habitat use in response to prescribed fire. Journal of Wildlife Management 65:141-147.

  • Foster, M. L., and S. R. Humphrey. 1992. The use of highway underpasses by panthers and other animals in southwest Florida. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, p. 59.

  • Goldman, E. A. 1946. Classification of the races of the puma. Pp. 175-302 in S. P. Young and E. A. Goldman (eds.), The Puma, Mysterious American Cate. Am. Wildl. Inst. Washington, D.C. 358 pp.

  • Hall, E. R. 1981a. The Mammals of North America, second edition. Vols. I & II. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. 1181 pp.

  • Hansen, K. 1992. Cougar: the American lion. Northland Publising Company, Flagstaff, Arizona. xiii + 129 pp.

  • Johnson, C. S., and J. D. Clark. 1994. Captive cougars may aid Florida panther project. Park Science, Fall 1994, p. 26.

  • Jordan, D. 1990. Mecury contamination: another threat to the Florida panther. End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 15(2):1, 6.

  • Jordan, D. B. 1996. New hope for the Florida panther. Endangered Species Bulletin 21(2):10-11.

  • Layne, J. N., editor. 1978. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. 1. Mammals. State of Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. xx + 52 pp.

  • Maehr, D. S. 1990. The Florida panther and private lands. Conservation Biology 4:167-170.

  • Maehr, D. S. 1992. Florida panther FELIS CONCOLOR CORYI. Pages 176-189 in S. R. Humphrey, editor. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. I. Mammals. Univ. Press of Florida, Gainesville. xviii + 392 pp.

  • Maehr, D. S., et al. 1990. Food habits of panthers in southwest Florida. J. Wildlife Management 54:420-423.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • Roelke, M. E., et al. 1992. Mercury, raccoons, and the Florida panther. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, p. 146.

  • Seal, U. S., et al. 1989. Florida panther FELIS CONCOLOR CORYI viability analysis and species survival plan. Captive Breeding Specialist Group, IUCN.

  • Sealander, J.A. and G.A. Heidt. 1990. Arkansas Mammals: Their Natural History, Classification and Distribution. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 308 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1993. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) addressing potential genetic management options for the Florida panther. Federal Register 58(157):45651. 17 August 1993.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1994. Draft Second Revision Florida Panther Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. 75 pp.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. [Available online at: http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/ ]

  • Young, S. P. and E. A. Goldman. 1946. The Puma, mysterious American cat. Part I (by Young). History, life habits, economic status, and control. Part II (by Goldman). Classification of the races of the puma. American Wildlife Institute (also Dover Publ., Inc., New York). 358 PP.

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