Research notes

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.

Methodological approach

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

Enigma of denning in lynxes

Denning and raising of kittens in Eurasian lynxes has only been studied thoroughly in rocky regions of Europe. In these regions, the importance of closed structures for lynx denning has been demonstrated. Nearly all natal dens and the majority of all maternal dens in these regions are situated in rocky sites: in rock cavities or among boulders. In contrast to that, very little is known about lynx denning in non-rocky forests of the Eurasian temperate forest zone. There is a common belief among zoologists and lynx specialists that denning and even parturition in non-rocky forests only takes place in treefall. This belief is based on a few finds of kittens in treefall or forest plots with treefall. So, actually the evidence for this is still quite anecdotal but has quickly been generalized in literature. However, we have evidence that denning and/or parturition in treefall is not always the common rule in the forests of Belarus, and that lynx denning and kitten raising is very complex and dependent on several factors, of which the most important are protection from the weather (first of all rainfall), mosquitoes and the presence and densities of other predators.

Continue reading Enigma of denning in lynxes

Lynxes and medium-sized predators

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

Social 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