Hybridization between taxonomically similar species is an often-overlooked mechanism limiting the recovery of threatened and endangered species. We present molecular genetic data for the first time demonstrating that Canada lynx and bobcats hybridize in the wild. We verify that two microsatellite loci Lc106 and Lc110 have non-overlapping allele ranges between Canada lynx and bobcats, and that three putative lynx from Minnesota contain DNA from both bobcats and lynx. Additionally, we use a published test for the 16S rRNA region of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to determine the maternal species; all hybrids had lynx mothers. Fifteen per cent (3/20) of our ‘putative lynx’ samples were hybrids, although these data are not from a representative sampling effort. Hybridization may be an under-appreciated factor limiting the distribution and recovery of lynx. The presence of hybrids is thus a new factor in the population management of both species with potential implications for hunting and trapping of bobcats.
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Schwartz, M.K., Pilgrim, K.L., McKelvey, K.S. et al. Hybridization Between Canada Lynx and Bobcats: Genetic Results and Management Implications. Conserv Genet 5, 349–355 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:COGE.0000031141.47148.8b