Caching of animal remains is common among carnivorous species of all sizes, yet the effects of caching on larger prey are unstudied. We conducted a summer field experiment designed to test the effects of simulated mountain lion (Puma concolor) caching on mass loss, relative temperature, and odor dissemination of 9 prey-like carcasses. We deployed all but one of the carcasses in pairs, with one of each pair exposed and the other shaded and shallowly buried (cached). Caching substantially reduced wastage during dry and hot (drought) but not wet and cool (monsoon) periods, and it also reduced temperature and discernable odor to some degree during both seasons. These results are consistent with the hypotheses that caching serves to both reduce competition from arthropods and microbes and reduce odds of detection by larger vertebrates such as bears (Ursus spp.), wolves (Canis lupus), or other lions.
Additional publication details
Effects of simulated mountain lion caching on decomposition of ungulate carcasses