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.
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. In fact, the method even leads to severe artefacts (e.g. non-moving behaviour is registered as resting). Continue reading Methodological approach
Hunting from ambuscades is the most commonly used hunting mode of lynxes in Belarus. Ambuscades can be situated in sheltered sites on tree branches or inclined big trees, concealed sites under dense low spruce branches, etc. In the warm (snowless) season, lynxes mainly use arboreal ambuscades. Usually these are inclined trunks of trees (quite often spruces) fallen on other trees (mainly spruces). In winter, especially during snowy periods, lynxes more often use hidden sites on the forest floor, under dense and low spruce branches or at the edge of treefall or thickets. However, both types of ambuscades (at a height in trees or on the forest floor) may be used year-round. In the majority of cases, such an ambush hunt-watching point is situated at prey pathways or at the spots where prey forage rather often.
Another mode of hunting by lynxes involves watching for a short time from an open, elevated spot followed by stalking and a fast attack of the prey. However, this mode is used much less often than hunting from ambuscades. It is mainly applied during long walks, when the lynx is marking its terrain.
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
To answer some basic questions on home range size and structure we followed several individual lynxes in two study areas: Naliboki Forest (central-western Belarus) and Paazierre Forest (northern Belarus). We used (manifold) snow tracking, VHF-telemetry and GPS-GSM telemetry. Continue reading Home range size, structure and usage of housing spots
Between 1985 and 2010, lynx population dynamics were studied in relation to prey supply (abundance of hares, Tetraonids and roe deer) and lynx diet in Paazierrie Forest (northern Belarus). Continue reading Lynx population dynamics in relation to prey supply and diet (Paazierrie Forest)