Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is a crepuscular-nocturnal carnivore and mostly spends daytime resting. Although resting sites represent an important part of the lynx habitat and can be negatively affected by human activities, it is still poorly known how lynx select these sites, especially in regions with rugged topography characteristic for much of the species’ range. We analysed microscale habitat selection of lynx resting sites at the home-range level in a karstic landscape of the Dinaric Mountains, Slovenia, using a use-availability study design. We also searched for differences in the selection of resting sites in respect to the presence of ungulate kills, which often limit the available resting sites during the prey-consumption period. Using generalised linear mixed models (GLMM), we tested which environmental features and human infrastructure are important for lynx when choosing resting sites. Lynx selected mountain ridges and hilltops, as well as locations with steeper slopes and lower local visibility. Such locations likely provide concealment from potential danger or prey and, at the same time, offer good overview of the surroundings. There was also a tendency to avoid forest cabins and to select rocky terrain and southern exposures, but support in the data for this was lower. When lynx were not limited by the presence of fresh kill, the selection tended to be stronger, but the differences were not significant, except for visibility, which was lower at resting sites near prey remains. Results likely reflect high availability of suitable resting sites in a rugged terrain of karstic landscape.
Animals are often most vulnerable during sleep, thus the resting site should ideally provide them with cover to reduce exposure and at the same time give them good overview of the surroundings to detect any approaching danger. We used snow tracking and GPS telemetry, for the first time in combination with data from activity sensors, to reliably determine resting sites of Eurasian lynx in a rugged karstic landscape. We showed how lynx face the trade-off of the need to be concealed, yet at the same time attain good view, by selecting structured microhabitats on top of the ridges and on steep slopes. Our results also suggest that in the regions with rugged terrain the influence of human infrastructure might be lower compared to the study areas of previous research.
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The datasets generated during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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We would like to thank Primož Bizjan, Urša Fležar, Igor Hočevar, Maj Hočevar, Franc Kljun, Ivan Kos, Peter Novak, Hubert Potočnik, Nina Ražen, Tomaž Skrbinšek, Petra Štajdohar, Janez Tarman, Jasna Tarman, Uroš Videmšek, Nejc Zorko, Anamarija Žagar, and members of the Slovenian Hunting Association and Slovenia Forest Service personnel for help with the fieldwork and to Aleksandra Majić Skrbinšek and Rok Černe for project coordination. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive comments that improved this paper.
This study was partly financed by the European Union (INTERREG IIIA Neighbourhood Programme Slovenia/Hungary/Croatia 2004–2006, project ‘DinaRis’) and the European Commission (LIFE16 NAT/SL/000634 project ‘LIFE Lynx’). TO was supported by a Ph.D. grant from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT; grant reference: SFRH/BD/144110/2019) and MK was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency (grants no. P4-0059 and N1-0163).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed and the work conforms to the legal requirements of the country in which it was carried out. Research was approved by the committee at the Slovenian Environmental Agency (nos. 35601-45/2006-6 and 35601-76-2020-6).
All sources of funding are acknowledged and we do not expect any direct financial benefits that could result from this publication.
Communicated by T. Stankowich
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Hočevar, L., Oliveira, T. & Krofel, M. Felid bedrooms with a panoramic view: selection of resting sites by Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in a karstic landscape. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 75, 34 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-021-02977-7
- Microscale habitat selection
- Kill site
- Large carnivores
- Habitat use