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Relationship between prey availability and population dynamics of the Eurasian lynx and its diet in northern Belarus

Authors:
  • Naust Eco station

Abstract

The diet and population dynamics of the Eurasian lynxLynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 as well as an index of its main prey abundance were studied in transitional mixed forests of northern Belarus in 1985-2004. Monitoring of the lynx population and its main potential prey (the mountain hareLepus timidus, and the roe deerCapreolus capreolus) was done by snow-tracking. Also, abundance of tetraonids (Tetraonidae) was monitored by sight count. Hare numbers were fairly stable during the study period, whereas density of the roe deer population markedly increased, and tetraonids decreased. Composition of the lynx diet was stable seasonally. Lynx fed mostly on hares, roe deer and birds (usually tetraonids) year-round. However, the share of roe deer in lynx diet increased significantly during the period of its higher abundance and the share of tetraonids decreased with their decreasing numbers. There was also a remarkable increase of lynx population, which followed that of the roe deer, despite the pronounced decline of tetraonids. The results of the study emphasised the importance of roe deer as a prey of the Eurasian lynx.
... As a mesocarnivore, a red fox may scavenge on the carrion left by a larger carnivore (Helldin & Danielsson, 2007), thus there can be considerable dietary overlap between small and large predators. Snow leopards are reported to specialize in hunting large prey, especially ungulates (Lu et al., 2019), while lynx generally consume medium-sized or small prey (Sidorovich, 2006;Valdmann et al., 2005). Compared with felids, wolf and red fox are more generalized in diets (Castaeda et al., 2018;Lyngdoh et al., 2020). ...
... This is also in line with our dietary analysis and previous studies that identified the hare as one of the most important preys of lynx. (Burstahler et al., 2016;Sidorovich, 2006;Valdmann et al., 2005). According to our classification criteria, lynx and red fox had a high dietary overlap, since lagomorphs and rodents are both classified as "small mammals." ...
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Abstract Carnivores, especially top predators, are important because they maintain the structure and function of ecosystems by top‐down control. Exploring the coexistence between carnivores belonging to different ecological guilds can provide the data needed for the development of effective conservation strategies of endangered species. We used scats and camera traps to molecularly analyze the dietary composition of four predators that inhabit the Everest region and assess their activity patterns. Dietary analysis revealed 22 food Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs) of 7 orders and 2 classes. Snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and wolf (Canis lupus) had high dietary overlap (Pianka's index = 0.95), as they both mainly preyed on ungulates (%PR = 61%, 50%), while lynx (Lynx lynx) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) mainly consumed small mammals (%PR = 62%, 76%). We observed lower dietary overlaps (Pianka's index = 0.53–0.70) between predators with large body size difference (snow leopard versus lynx, snow leopard versus red fox, wolf versus lynx, wolf versus fox), and dietary difference was significant (p
... The lynx may again be an important predator of red foxes (Elmhagen et al. 2010, Pasanen-Mortensen et al. 2013, Pasanen-Mortensen and Elmhagen 2015, but see Wikenros et al. 2017). Raccoon dogs were, however, found more often than foxes in the diet of lynxes in Belarus (Sidorovich 2006). ...
... We also suggest that the lynx may have the same role. Lynxes are known to kill raccoon dogs (Sidorovich 2006) and also red foxes (Sunde et al. 1999;Helldin et al. 2006), with potential effects at the population level for the latter (Elmhagen et al. 2010;Pasanen-Mortensen et al. 2013). However, locally the red fox may actually benefit from carcasses left by the lynx (Wikenros et al. 2017). ...
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The role of an alien predator in the community depends on its interaction with native predators. The absence of apex predators may facilitate outbreaks of invasive mesopredators, but the effect of apex predators may vary between species and environments. We analysed the occurrence of a common invasive mesopredator in Europe, the raccoon dog ( Nyctereutes procyonoides ), and native mesopredators, the red fox and the Eurasian badger, in camera-trap data from Finland. The observations in cameras were analysed in relation to the presence of apex predators in the landscape (grey wolf and Eurasian lynx), human density, and habitat. We observed negative effect of increasing presence of wolves and lynxes on the occurrence of raccoon dogs. This effect appeared clear compared to the effects of habitat and human density. The effect of lynxes on raccoon dogs was clearer in areas with short growth season. For the occurrence of badgers, the presence of wolves had a weak negative effect and the presence of lynxes had a positive effect. For the occurrence of red foxes, wolves had a positive effect when agricultural fields were sparse in the landscape and lynxes had no effect. We also observed that the invasive raccoon dog currently appears to be the most common mesopredator within the study area. We conclude that the effect of apex predators on mesopredators depends on the environment and, in our case, was more suppressive on the alien mesopredator than on the native mesopredators. Thus, apex predators can play an important role in controlling invasive mesopredators.
... The sources of variability in these probabilities are a central tenet in the ecological management of wildlife species, with drivers of variations that include natural and anthropogenic factors (Shelton and Mangel 2011). For example, variation in prey availability at critical points in the life cycle has been reported to influence population productivity and trajectories of predators (Sidorovich 2006, Ford et al. 2010, C ardenas-Alayza 2012, Wells et al. 2012. Modeling population dynamics provides a tool with which to assess the consequences of decreased energy intake and thus supports informed conservation and management decisions. ...
... We consider the period from 1999 to 2016 during which the estimated CIB population abundance had an average trend of À0.4% (Shelden et al. 2017). Because calving rates may serve as an indicator of population health and recovery potential, data were collected during aerial surveys in August of 2006(Hobbs et al. 2015b. These data reflect births occurring after the survey period to estimate the per capita births in the population in each year (R. C. Hobbs and S. A. Norman, unpublished manuscript; Table 1). ...
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Anthropogenic disturbances may alter a population's conservation status if the ability of individuals to survive and breed is affected. We used an adaptation of the Heligman-Pollard model to estimate survival at age of Cook Inlet belugas (CIB; Delphinapterus leucas), an endangered population in south-central Alaska. We developed an age-structured Leslie matrix model, based on the life history parameters survival and fecundity probability, to evaluate the sensitivity of population size and growth of CIB, to variation in estimate values of Chinook and coho salmon abundance in the Deshka River, a major tributary of the Susitna River. Birth effect (e b) was regressed against Chinook and coho salmon levels for the year of, the year before, and two years before a beluga calf birth. The effect of a range of modifications of salmon availability was illustrated in CIB with a series of simulations. The maximum annual population growths (k) were set at 1.036 (3.6%). Ranges of CIB survival and fecundity probabilities indicated small changes in survival probabilities have a greater impact on population growth than similar changes in birth probability. As either survival (e s) or fecundity (e b) was reduced, the annual growth declined, with either e s = 0.961 or e b = 0.388, causing a decreased annual growth of À0.4%. Regressions of Chinook salmon for the year of, the year before, and two years before a birth were all significant at the 5% level as was coho in the year of and year prior to birth. The mechanism model with the best fit was the sum of Chinook and coho in the year of birth and year prior to birth. Simulations showed that if salmon runs remained at their current levels, the CIB population would likely continue its current slow decline and per capita births would continue to be low. The results from this study suggest reproductive success in CIB is tied to salmon abundance in the Deshka River. Current management practices should consider this when setting research priorities, designing new studies, and developing management actions to achieve CIB population recovery targets.
... Roe deer are the most abundant ungulate species in south-eastern Poland (Borowik et al. 2013, Sądel 2017) providing a staple food base for the local lynx population and the most likely explanation for the relatively low exploitation of other prey species. Even though lynx can prey on several mammal and bird species (Jędrzejewski et al. 1993, Sidorovich 2006, it tends to select roe deer even if that species occurs at low density (Odden et al. 2006). In southeast Poland, however, wolves also prey mainly upon roe deer; data collected in 2000-2003 revealed that this species constituted 54% of wolf kills and made up 57.7% of consumed biomass according to the analysis of their scats (Jędrzejewski et al. 2012). ...
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We studied diet and prey preferences of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) inhabiting south-east Poland, based on kills found during GPS-GSM telemetry and opportunistic winter tracking. Among 64 lynx kills were roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) (91%), red deer (Cervus elaphus) (3%) and brown hare (Lepus europaeus) (6%). From the ungulate community, lynx selected roe deer (D = 0.845) and avoided all other ungulates. We recorded one case of surplus and two cases of parallel killing. Lynx visited the same killed roe deer on average for 2.3 days, and for up to six days when surplus or parallel killing occurred. High numbers of the roe deer in south-east Poland supports the persistence of the lynx, but we urge managers to take under consideration food requirements of the lynx when planning game management.
... This is especially important in the case of specialized predators, dependent largely on one prey. An example of such a predator species is the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), whose density tends to be related to the roe deer availability (Sidorovich, 2006). According to the wolf and lynx monitoring in Poland (GIOŚ, 2020), wolf conservation status is much more satisfactory than the lynx status and the conservation status of the latter in all eight monitoring sites throughout the country is unfavorably bad (U2). ...
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Red and roe deer are the most numerous cervids in Europe, and they occur in sympa-try in most regions. Roe deer were considered to be an inferior competitor in studies in which they co-occurred with fallow deer or muntjac. Despite the remarkable overlap of their ranges, there are few studies on the competition between the red and roe deer. Since interspecific interactions among ungulates are often related to their mutual densities, the current study focused on the effects of high red deer density on the roe deer numbers and spatial distribution in the unhunted Słowiński National Park (SNP) in northern Poland and forest districts open to hunting bordering the park. Using fecal pellet group counts, it was found that in the forest districts (where red deer densities were 2-3 times lower than in the SNP), roe deer densities were significantly higher than in the park. The red-to-roe deer density ratio was 10.8 and 2.7, in the SNP and the surrounding forest districts, respectively. Moreover, in the SNP, the roe deer distribution was negatively affected by the red deer habitat use, while in the hunting areas, such an effect was not recorded. The negative influence of the red deer on the roe deer population in the park was most probably due to the red deer impact on food availability. The biomass of the plant groups forming the staple food of the roe deer (Rubus spp., forbs, dwarf shrubs) was significantly higher in the fenced plots than in the unfenced ones. Lack of hunting in the protected areas may benefit only some species in ungulate assemblages which, in turn, may contradict one of their objectives-to maintain viable and ecologically functional populations. K E Y W O R D S interspecific competition, population density, protected areas, red deer, roe deer, ungulate assemblage
... The active bouts of hunting during a predator's day usually synchronize with the schedules of their main prey to raise their hunting success rate [43,44]. The main prey species of lynx are hare and ungulates [17][18][19][45][46][47][48][49] with nocturnal or crepuscular activity rhythms, which explains why the lynx's daily activity patterns are nocturnal or crepuscular. For example, in north Scandinavia, lynx in different latitudinal areas adjusted their activity rhythms to synchronize with the main local ungulate species [35]. ...
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Revealing the behavioral relationships between predators and their prey is fundamental in understanding the community structure and ecosystem functions of such animals. This study aimed at detecting the population size and activity patterns of Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) (along with its prey) by camera trapping monitoring from 2014 to 2017 at the Saihanwula nature reserve in central Inner Mongolia. The total effective trapping days were 29,892 and 20 lynx were identified from 343 trapping photos based on the inner side patterns of their forelimbs. The daily activity rhythms of the lynx overlapped with those of different prey in different seasons. The yearly activity pattern of the lynx was influenced by its main prey’s biology. In conclusion, this study reveals that the activity patterns of the top predator matched those of its prey in different time periods. Habitat management strategies promoting the restoration of prey communities would benefit the lynx in maintaining a stable community structure.
... Cette prédation est d'autant plus forte que l'abondance en lynx augmente, les conditions hivernales deviennent plus rudes et la productivité primaire plus faible [143]. La prédation du félin sur le Renard a été mise en avant dans de nombreuses études [74,79,[145][146][147][148][149]. Même si le Renard ne constitue souvent qu'une petite portion de son régime alimentaire, il peut être une proie particulièrement importante pendant certaines périodes de la vie du Lynx, comme lors de la dispersion des jeunes adultes ou pendant l'élevage des petits [35]. ...
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Le Lynx boréal a été classé «En danger» sur la liste rouge nationale des mammifères de France métropolitaine, tant en 2009 qu’en 2017, son état de conservation ne s’étant pas amélioré durant cet intervalle de temps. En 2018, l’Unité mixte de service «PatriNat» (AFB-MNHN-CNRS) a actualisé la liste des espèces prioritaires pour l’action publique en France, inscrivant le Lynx parmi les espèces prioritaires et corrigeant la tendance de la population française du félin, la faisant passer de «augmentation» (indication mentionnée sur le site de l’INPN et relative uniquement au massif jurassien) à «diminution» (évolution portant sur l’ensemble de l’aire de répartition métropolitaine de l’espèce). Conscient de l’importance du Lynx pour la France, ainsi que de son état de conservation défavorable, le WWF France a souhaité s’engager dans une démarche d’élaboration et de rédaction d’un plan d’actions en faveur de l’espèce. Suite à un appel d’offres lancé le 03/10/2017, la rédaction de ce document a été confiée à la Société française pour l’étude et la protection des mammifères (SFEPM) par convention en date du 21/12/2017. Le but était de : - regrouper les bonnes volontés et initiatives déjà à l’œuvre en faveur de cette espèce, - rédiger un document pouvant servir de base à la mise en œuvre d’un plan national d’actions piloté par l’État français, sur la base de la circulaire du 9 mai 2017 relative aux plans nationaux d’actions en faveur des espèces menacées , - créer une dynamique de conservation de l’espèce au niveau national et rassembler les acteurs et les idées. L’objectif général des actions du PNCL est de recréer à terme une population viable de lynx sur l’ensemble de l’aire de répartition potentielle (aire de présence du XVIe siècle actualisée et relativisée au vu des contraintes géographiques, de l’évolution de l’aménagement du territoire et des logiques d’acteurs d’aujourd’hui).
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... Detailed and long-term studies conducted in various parts of Europe have consistent findings about the main prey species of the Eurasian lynx. For example, the roe deer was concluded as the main prey for lynx, followed by other ungulate species such as chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and red deer (Cervus elaphus), with a low ratio of the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in the species' diet in Jura Mountains of Switzerland (Weber and Meissbrodt, 1999;Jobin et al., 2000;Molinari-Jobin et al., 2007) and in Bialowieza primeral forest in Poland and Belarus (Jedrzejewski et al., 1996;Okarma et al., 1997;Sidorovich, 2006). Supportively, studies performed in northern Europe (i.e., Norway, Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia) revealed that the main prey for the Eurasian lynx is the roe deer (Sunde and Kvam, 1997;Linnell et al., 2001;Herfindal et al., 2005;Valdmann et al., 2005;Odden et al., 2006;Basille et al., 2009). ...
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Explaining predator-prey relationship is crucial for implementing effective conservation practices on large mammals. The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) preys on small ungulates such as roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in Europe, and on hares (Lepus spp.) in more eastern longitudes, but there is lack of information on the southernmost populations of the Eurasian lynx in Turkey. This study explores the spatial and temporal relationship of the Eurasian lynx with its two main preys, roe deer and the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in north-western Anatolia using long-term camera-trapping data. Camera-trapping surveys were held with 173 systematic camera-trap stations at 10 study sites between November 2007 and July 2016, and reached to 53,995 trap-nights in total. To analyse the camera-trap data, we used a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) assuming binomial error distribution for presence/absence data and general linear mixed model (LMM) for the relative abundance data. In both modelling approaches, we considered the study site as the random factor. We estimated the overlap of daily activity patterns of Eurasian lynx with roe deer and brown hare using kernel density estimation. Both GLMM and LMM analyses indicated a significant spatial relationship between the Eurasian lynx and the brown hare (�2= 22.4, P < 0.0001 and Likelihood ratio = 4.8, P < 0.05, respectively), but not between the Eurasian lynx and roe deer (P > 0.05). The daily activity of Eurasian lynx highly overlapped with brown hare (�4= 0.81), but we found a lower overlap between Eurasian lynx and roe deer (�4= 0.62). The findings reveal that the presence of Eurasian lynx is temporally and spatially synchronized with the brown hare in northern Anatolia, and support that the brown hare, but not the roe deer, constitutes the main diet of Eurasian lynx in the study area.
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The study reports the first estimation of the Eurasian lynx population inhabiting the Ukrainian Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ, 2600 km2) in 2013–2018. Although lynx were once common in this region, anthropogenic impacts reduced their numbers substantially by the 19th century, leaving lynx as only occasional visitors to the area. In 1986, after an accident on the Chornobyl NPP, the human population was removed from the areas affected by radioactive contamination, and regular economic activity was stopped there. As a result, a gradual recovery of the lynx population was observed. Assessments of the given study are based on camera trap data obtained from wildlife studies conducted in 2013–2018 over nearly 30% of total CEZ area. The number of locations where the camera traps worked simultaneously ranged from 5 to 89. Lynx was recorded 302 times, including 125 observations of 50 identifiable individuals. The total size of the lynx population was estimated to be approximately 53 to 68 individuals of all sex and age groups. For the identified lynx, sex was defined for 22 individuals: 6 females and 16 males. Eleven of 50 identified individuals were cubs. Over the whole period 6 family groups were recorded, 5 of which were females that had 2 cubs, and one a female with a single cub. Most of the identified lynx (33 of 50) were each recorded in one location only. In those cases when the individuals were repeatedly observed in two or more locations (up to 6), the maximum distance between locations ranged from 1 to 23 km (mean distance = 1.9 km). The density of animals was approximately 2.2–2.7 individuals per 100 km2, which is comparable to other areas of Europe where conditions are favourable for this species. Whilst only a preliminary estimate, our results indicate that 32 years after the Chornobyl NPP accident, the CEZ has one of the highest lynx populations in Ukraine. Conditions for lynx are favourable in the CEZ because it has abundant prey species (roe deer and red deer), high forest cover (more than 63%), absence of a residential human population, no agricultural activity, a low level of disturbance from other human activity, and the area has protected status. The recovery of lynx in the CEZ demonstrates the conservation benefits that even unmanaged re-wilding can achieve.
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We examined 617 kills made by radio-tracked Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx (Linnaeus, 1758) from March 1988 to May 1998 to assess prey spectrum, preference, and food consumption rates in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Roe deer Capreolus capreolus and chamois Rupicapra rupicapra were the main prey (69 and 22%, respectively), followed by red fox Vulpes vulpes, brown hare Lepus europaeus, domestic cat Felis catus, wild cat Felis sylvestris, marmot Marmota marmota, pine marten Martes martes, capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, and badger Meles meles. Lynx fed on an ungulate prey from 1 to 7 days, depending on the prey category. The consumption rates of males, of females alone, and of females with kittens varied from 3.2 to 4.9 kg per night, with an increasing trend as the kittens grew older. Including the days when lynx had no kill (searching time) lynx consumed 2 ± 0.9 kg per night. The mean searching time was 1.5-2 days for females, depending on the season and the number of kittens, and 2.5 days for males. The mean interval between consecutive kills was 5.9 for males and 5.2 days for females, respectively. At 38% of carcasses the presence of one or several scavengers (red fox, raven Corvus corax or both) was detected. Although 69% of the kills were roe deer and only 22% chamois, we hypothesise that in the forests of the Jura Mountains chamois are more vulnerable to lynx predation than roe deer, as chamois had a slightly higher preference index (0.59) than roe deer (0.41), based on rough estimates of the two ungulate populations in the study area.
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Patterns of lynx Lynx lynx (Linnaeus, 1758) predation on ungulates were studied in the Polish part of Bialowieza Primeval Forest (580 km2) from scats and prey remains of lynx between 1985-1996, and radiotracking of 18 lynx between 1991-1996. Cervids were the main prey and constituted 90% of food biomass consumed (analysis of faeces) and 84% of prey killed. Roe deer Capreolus capreolus was positively selected by all lynx (though stronger by females and subadults than by adult males). Fawns and adult roe deer of both sexes were preyed on in proportion to their abundance in the population. Red deer Cervus elaphus was taken less often than would have been expected at random, and fawns were positively selected by lynx. On average, lynx spent 76 h (3.2 days) feeding on a killed deer (from 38 h in a female with 3 kittens to 105 h in single adult females). Mean searching time (ie time from leaving the remains of one deer to killing another one) was 52 h (2.2 days); from 10 h in a female with 3 young to 104 h in subadults. Thus, the average kill rate by lynx was one deer per 5.4 days. Predation impact of lynx population on roe and red deer was estimated in 1991-1996, when recorded numbers were 288-492 roe deer and 359-607 red deer per 100 km2 in late winter (March), and 501-820 roe deer and 514-858 red deer per 100 km2 in spring (May/June). During that period densities of deer declined markedly due to deliberately elevated hunting harvest by forestry personnel, aimed at reduction of game damage to silviculture. Densities of adult lynx were little variable (2.4-3.2 inds/100 km2), but reproduction rate strongly varied in response to deer decline, from 0.67 juv/adult lynx in 1991/92 to 0.25 juv/adult lynx in 1995/96. Annually, lynx population killed 110-169 roe deer/100 km2, which constituted 21-36% of spring (seasonally highest) numbers of roe deer. Lynx predation was the most important factor of roe deer mortality. Furthermore, lynx population took 42-70 red deer/100 km2 annually, which constituted 6-13% of spring number of red deer. In red deer mortality, lynx predation played an inferior role to hunting harvest and wolf predation.
Chapter
This book is about the relationships between the entire community of predators and populations of their prey in the Białowieża Primeval Forest. Although the ecological term ‘predator’ is applicable to taxonomically diverse animals, in this work it is used to mean mammals in the order Carnivora and birds of prey in the orders Strigiformes, Accipitriformes, and Falconiformes. We have studied this unique web of relationships for over a decade (1985–1996). Since Białowieża is among the best preserved but also the most thoroughly studied places in the world, we enjoyed the opportunity of combining our data with the results of numerous botanical, zoological, and ecological studies conducted there during the recent half-century. Furthermore, we exploited the wealth of information from the archives of forestry and game management of the forest.