Since the mid-nineties, Vadim Sidorovich has studied lynxes in Belarus in the framework of several projects and investigated many regionally important questions of lynx ecology: population number and habitat carrying capacity, distribution of lynxes (between-year and seasonal changes), home range and home range structure, prey supply and foraging, diet (between-year and seasonal changes), predation impact on prey populations, reproduction rate and mortality causes.
A whole variety of standard methods was used to study lynx ecology, including telemetry. During these studies many new questions arose. Gradually it became clear that several aspects of the ecology and behaviour of lynxes are actually poorly studied, particularly in non-mountainous areas of Europe. For example, not much is known about denning behaviour, timing of birth, raising of kits up to four months old, home range structure and usage (e.g. composition and usage of housing spots, particularly during summer), individual specificity of the lynx diet in conditions of relatively poor supply with relevant prey (roe deer, hares and Tetraonids) and social behavior. Another important, yet poorly studied question across the range of the Eurasian lynx is competition with wolves, particularly interference competition.
Standard methods such as telemetry were used to answer basic questions on home range size and structure. However, many other questions arose, which can’t be answered by the use of telemetry. The method has its deficiencies and even leads to severe artefacts, which are especially manifest when studying the lynx. These are discussed under methodological approach. Therefore, we elaborated another research approach, based on tracking and directed, ‘smart’ camera trapping.
We are convinced that a non-academic research style is extremely valuable to study lynx, a species with a very hidden life style and complicated behaviour in relation with its environment. Our aim is not to provide ‘proof’ with comprehensive statistics and mathematical simulation. Instead, we will describe – and provide proof – with many well-documented cases. We will collect detailed basic data and limit the use of estimates and statistics to the strict minimum. This approach will yield more valuable and detailed knowledge on the ecology of the species.
Financial support of the study is provided by the income of wildlife trips organized by Naust Eco Station. Wild Naliboki organizes small fundraising events and accepts donations to purchase research material such as camera traps.
Research is carried out by Naust Eco station and the research team of Wild Naliboki. This alternative approach to research funding allows us to spend more time in the field doing actual research.