Zoological Studies

Vol. 49 No. 4, 2010

Morphometrics of the Tracks of Puma concolor : Is It Possible to Differentiate the Sexes Using Measurements from Captive Animals?

Karla P. García1,*, Juan Carlos Ortiz1, Marcela Vidal2, and Jaime R. Rau3

1Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
2Laboratorio de Genómica y Biodiversidad, Departamento de Ciencias Básicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad del Bio-Bío, Casilla 447, Chillán, Chile
3Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Ciencias Básicas, Programa de Educación e Investigación Biológica y Ambiental (Programa IBAM), Universidad de Los Lagos, Casilla 933, Osorno, Chile

Karla P. García, Juan Carlos Ortiz, Marcela Vidal, and Jaime R. Rau (2010) Studies of felines have attempted to identify individuals by their tracks, since this ability would allow obtaining data such as the presence/absence and abundance of these species, which are difficult to obtain because of their secretive habits.  Distinguishing between the sexes is important, because it permits estimation of the sex ratio and the relation of this to population dynamics; however, few studies have attempted to determine the sex of Puma concolor using tracks.  This study uses linear, angular, area, and geometric morphometrics to correctly classify individuals by sex using tracks from captive animals.  The results indicated that males had greater mean values for many variables, except for the area of internal toe, the area of exterior toe, the length of 3rd toe and the length of the 2nd toe.  In the geometric analysis, the shape of male tracks was narrower in the middle than that of females.  Although no other methods are available that allow identification of individuals by their tracks, this study demonstrates that the use of different tools may provide favorable results.  Finally, it will be necessary to increase the sample size of pumas in the wild, which will allow the inference of the population dynamics of this species in Chile and elsewhere.

Key words: Discriminant analysis, Puma, Shape morphometrics, Tracks, Zoos.

*Correspondence: E-mail:kgarcia@udec.cl