Biology of the Eurasian Lynx

Three years ago I finished my master thesis about the Eurasian Lynx, a , I think, fascinating species. Since I read and wrote a lot to put my thesis together, I now want to give you here an extract of my thesis Introduction to give a little background about this big Eurasian Carnivor.

The Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx has a broad Eurasian distribution. Their preferred habitat is fairly open forest or thick shrub woodland, as well as the tundra in the northern latitudes and rocky areas in the Himalayas [1]. As the largest of the four lynx species, it feeds mainly on small ungulate prey such as roe deer (Capreolus sp.), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), musk deer (Moschus sp.) or semi-domestic Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in northern Scandinavia [1,2,3,4]. In areas lacking ungulates, its main prey are hares, grouse and other small animals.

The Eurasian lynx is a solitary living carnivore. Both sexes have their own exclusive territories, with the exception of females with their offspring. Territories of male lynx normally overlap with 1-3 female territories [1,5]. Home range size appears to vary depending on the region and habitat productivity [1,6]. In western and central Europe males occupy 100 – 450 km² while their habitat may reach sizes of 400 – 2200 km² in Scandinavia [1,5,6]. During the mating season (March to mid-April) both sexes are calling. After a gestation of 68 – 72 days females give birth to 1 – 4 young in late May to early June. Lynx are not polyestrous, but if the litter is lost they are able to initiate a second cycle. After 9 – 11 months the cubs are forced to leave the mother and reach sexual maturity at 22 months (females) or 34 months (males) [1].

[1] Sunquist ME and Sunquist FC (2009) Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Family Felidae (Cats) Lynx Edicions.

[2] Nilsen EB, Linnell JDC, Odden J, Andersen R (2009) Climate, season, and social status modulate the functional response of an efficient stalking predator: the Eurasian lynx. Journal of Animal Ecology 78.

[3] Pedersen VA, Linnell JDC, Andersen R, Andrén H, Lindén M, Segerström P (1999) Winter lynx Lynx lynx predation on semi-domestic reindeer Rangifer tarandus in northern Sweden. Wildlife Biology 5.

[4] Schadt S, Knauer F, Kaczensky P, Revilla E, Wiegand T, Trepl L (2002a) Rule-based assessment of suitable habitat and patch connectivity for the Eurasian lynx. Ecological Applications 12(5).

[5] Breitenmoser-Würsten C, Zimmermann F, Stahl P, Vandel J-M, AnjaMolinari-Jobin, Molinari P, Capt S, Breitenmoser U (2007) Spatial and social stability of a Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx population: an assessment of 10 years of observation in the Jura Mountains. Wildlife Biology 13.

[6] Herfindal I, Linnell JDC, Odden J, Nilsen EB, Andersen R (2005) Prey density, environmental productivity and home-range size in the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). Journal of Zoology 265, 63-71.



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