Mates or Munchies – What Drives Big Cats’ Spatial Behavior?

Most big cats are territorial, with males commonly using larger home ranges than females. But what is driving the spatial behavior of these cats? A new study published in the journal Ecosphere compares spatial data from snow leopards and pumas to better understand what is governing their territorial behavior. Two factors stand out: abundance of prey and access to potential mates. However, the way they work together is not what researchers expected.

Tracking the Mountain Ghost

For almost a decade, Swedish researcher Örjan Johansson has studied the elusive snow leopards of the Gobi Desert. His pioneering work includes equipping 23 individual snow leopards with GPS collars, and publishing groundbreaking papers on how these cats use their habitat or how frequently they kill prey. Last month, Örjan defended the PhD thesis he wrote on this research. In this article, he shares some thoughts about his unique work and what motivates him to do it.