On this blog, we share knowledge on the ecology of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Belarus, acquired during field based research. We update the blog with new research notes as the studies are progressing. These research notes are the prelude of a book on lynx ecology we would like to publish.
Telemetry – a commonly used standard method to study animal movements – has been used to study lynx in several countries. The method is suitable to answer basic ecological questions such as home range size and (temporal) space-use on a coarse scale. Telemetry on lynxes in northern Belarus has provided us with this basic knowledge. We found that lynxes use extremely small housing spots in summer; not only females with kittens but also adult males. However, during these telemetry studies, several limitations of this method to study the complicated behaviour of this elusive species became apparent. Continue reading Methodological approach
Before 2013, roe deer reached high population densities in the Naliboki Forest (on average 398 roe deer/100km²). Under these conditions lynxes were almost entirely specialized in feeding on roe deer.
Continue reading Individual diet specificity under abnormal prey supply (Naliboki Forest)
Lynxes are known to kill medium sized predators, but the degree of the impact this has on the populations of these medium sized predators might strongly differ from one region to another, depending on many factors.
By radio tagging foxes and raccoon dogs in Paazierrie Forest and Naliboki Forest, the scale in which killing of these medium sized predators by lynxes occurs became apparent: more than half of over 60 foxes and raccoon dogs were killed by lynxes and wolves, almost an equal share each.
From snow tracking and telemetry data on lynx in Belarus (Paazierre Forest and Naliboki Forest) we calculated that an adult lynx kills about 40-50 foxes per year. However, in summer and autumn this may happen more frequently, because young foxes are easier victims. So, this figure is almost surely an underestimation. Continue reading Lynxes and medium-sized predators
Summer hunting versus winter hunting
We found a great difference in the hunting mode of lynxes between the warm and cold seasons.
In the cold season – particularly during periods of snow – lynxes hunt either by ambush from concealed ‘resting’ sites on the ground (often under spruce branches) or by patrolling prey rich habitats and stalking.
Continue reading Hunting behaviour
Lynxes are considered as strictly solitary carnivores. Social contacts between adults are believed to be limited to mating season. Yet there have been some records of (prolonged) social contact between adult lynxes outside mating season, mostly from snow tracking. During telemetry research in other countries, adults (mostly male-female) have been occasionally found in each other’s vicinity outside mating season. Because this is considered to be highly exceptional this does not receive much attention and the details of this behaviour remain unknown.
Continue reading Social behaviour
To study lynx-wolf interference through telemetry means having both wolves and lynxes (radio/GPS) collared in the same study area; as stated before this requires a huge effort and investment. If the result of such a study is that both species are overlapping in home-range and frequently using the same sites, what does this say about the relation between both species? Does this necessarily mean there is no interference competition between the two predators, as suggested by some researchers? We believe not. Continue reading Interference competition between lynx and wolf