First insight into the spatial and foraging ecology of the critically endangered Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus, Buresh 1941)
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Georg-August University Goettingen, Wildlife Sciences, Germany
Macedonian Ecological Society, Skopje, Macedonia
Geonatura, Zagreb, Croatia
Biology Students' Research Society, Skopje, Macedonia
KORA - Carnivore ecology and wildlife management, Bern, Switzerland
Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health, University of Bern, Switzerland
Georg-August University Goettingen, Workgroup on Endangered Species, Germany
University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Forestry, Slovenia
Online publication date: 2020-04-15
Publication date: 2020-04-15
Corresponding author
Dime Melovski   

Georg-August University Goettingen, Wildlife Sciences
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2020;31(1):26-34
Spatial and foraging ecology of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) has been well recognized, however due to the distinct taxonomic position and geographic isolation of its Balkan population, it is important to learn and compare its ecology to other populations of this felid. Therefore, the paper offers the first ever investigation into the spatial and foraging ecology of this predator. To that aim, we used modern GPS/GSM telemetry methods, allowing proper research of animal spatial requirements and diet preferences. Individuals were captured using walk-through, double-door box-traps and foot-snares placed on fresh lynx kills. Average home range size of males is 373 km2 (95\% MCP) and 400 km2 (0.7 Kernel), while the female’s home range is 119 km2 (95\% MCP) and 108 km2 (0.7 Kernel). GPS clusters showed prey remains of 153 kills from five different species: roe deer, chamois, brown hare, red fox and marten. Data collected for the Balkan lynx suggest lower kill rates, probably associated with lower ungulate densities in the study area compared to most of Central Europe, also indicated by the relatively long search time. Although Eurasian lynx can adapt to lower ungulate prey densities by increasing hunting effort, changing spatial organization or switching to smaller prey, this, in turn, can have adverse demographic effects on the critically endangered Balkan population. Using GPS telemetry, we provided first insight into the space use of this small population, and show that the spatial and foraging ecology of the Balkan lynx appear similar to other European populations of this species, especially those from Central Europe with similar home range size and principal prey preference.
This study was financially supported by the SCOPES programme (Scientific Cooperation between Eastern Europe and Switzerland) from 2010 until 2012, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (2013-2014), the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) for the period 2015-2018, as well as the MAVA foundation (2018-2020). Help in the field was offered by the volunteers of the Biology Students’ Research Society, wardens in the Mavrovo National Park, Sokol-Z and Piton Hunting Societies as well as Jasen Protected Area. We are especially grateful to Panajot Chorovski and Ekrem Veapi, members of the Balkan lynx monitoring network, for their invaluable help during trapping and lynx kill search throughout the course of this study. We are thankful to Joe Premier for providing the R script for the cumulative home-range analysis.
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