Modeling Cougar Corridors in the Owens Valley

Cougars are the most significant apex predator of the Owens Valley in California, but they are at risk of population decline due to the shifting conditions of the valley and impending climate change. Populations of cougars in the Sierra Nevada and Inyo-White Mountains are also at risk of being cut off from each other as these conditions become a barrier to gene flow. We used ArcGIS to create a fuzzy suitability model of existing suitable conditions in the valley, and then connected points of suitability together with a least cost path model. Using this data, environmental planners can designate corridors between mountain ranges where they can most effectively focus conservation efforts.