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Microhabitat selection by Eurasian lynx and its implications for species conservation

Abstract

We studied microhabitat selection of the Eurasian lynxLynx lynx (Linnaeus, 1758) at 116 hunting and 88 resting sites in Białowieża Primeval Forest (Poland) to describe its characteristics and determine the importance of habitat structure for stalking prey and for security during resting. We identified lynx-used sites by radio-tracking 3 male and 3 female lynx. When hunting, the lynx did not select for any type or age class of forest. During both summer and winter, the lynx selected sites characterized by high complexity (number of structures useful for stalking: fallen logs and branches, root plates, patches of dense bushes) and low visibility. In summer, hunting sites were often located in the vicinity of small forest glades that provided good stalking opportunities for lynx and rich foraging resources for roe deer — the main prey of lynx. The habitat at kill sites was more open than at sites where the prey was cached, with higher visibility, lower density of trees and poorer undergrowth. The most important characteristic of resting sites was very low visibility that resulted mainly from using young pine or spruce thickets in the winter and dense undergrowth of oak-lime-hornbeam and ash-alder forests in the summer. The information provided by this study could have direct implications for Eurasian lynx conservation by guiding forest restructuring to better suit the species’ biological requirements.

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Correspondence to Krzysztof Schmidt.

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Associate editor was Andrzej Zalewski.

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Podgórski, T., Schmidt, K., Kowalczyk, R. et al. Microhabitat selection by Eurasian lynx and its implications for species conservation. Acta Theriol 53, 97–110 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03194243

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Key words

  • habitat use
  • hunting behaviour
  • Lynx lynx
  • predator-prey relationships
  • resting sites
  • stalking cover