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Feeding ecology of lynx and wolf in terms of Central Europe
In Europe, the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) has suffered from intensive persecution due to competition with hunters, resulting in its extermination in the late 19th–early 20th century in most central and western European countries. Restoration of suitable prey and conservation efforts allowed the lynx to recolonize parts of its historical range. Understanding the predation patterns of one of the top European predators is crucial for setting appropriate conservation and management measures. Using GPS telemetry data from three resident lynx males in combination with camera trapping and snow tracking, we estimated kill rates, feeding and searching time and compared lynx impact to human harvest on wild ungulates. The average annual kill rates for each individual were 65, 73 and 81 ungulates/year; 17–30% of kills were parallel to other kills. Male lynx annual kill rates were equivalent to 8.59% (19.73% roe deer, 2.48% red deer, 0.32% wild boar) of the average annual human harvest within lynx home ranges. Our results provide the first insight into hunting and feeding behaviour of the Eurasian lynx in the Western Carpathians.
Kill rates of predators typically increase when they come into contact with naïve and abundant prey. Such a situation can lead to surplus killing or the occurrence of parallel kills (i.e. additional kills that predator makes while still consuming the carcass from the previous kill). However, there is limited information on the feeding behaviour of predators during such events and how they affect kill rates. Here we report on hunting and feeding behaviour of a male Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) that dispersed into a region where this apex predator had been absent for several decades. We also report on the kleptoparasitism by wild boar (Sus scrofa), which effects on lynx prey consumption have not yet been explored. We found 66 ungulates killed by the lynx, among which 39% were part of parallel kills. Compared to the single kills, lynx fed on parallel kills for 2.7-times longer, while the kill rate was 37% higher, resulting in one of the highest kill rates reported so far for male lynx in Europe. We did not detect differences in search times following single or parallel kills and the average distance between consecutive kills was similar in both kill types. We also recorded the highest kleptoparasitism rate by dominant scavengers on Eurasian lynx, as 48% of kills were usurped and consumed by the wild boars. Kleptoparasitism reduced the average time lynx was able to feed on prey for 52% compared to kills not found by wild boars. However, the lynx did not compensate for these losses by increasing the hunting effort, probably due to abundant naive prey available in the area.