Living amidst a sea of agriculture: Predicting the occurrence of Canada lynx within an ecological island

Robert A. Montgomery, Gary J. Roloff, Joshua J. Millspaugh, Marcy Nylen-Nemetchek

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Carnivore populations are increasingly confined to reserves surrounded by anthropogenic development. The boundaries of ecological islands are risky because of habitat loss and human-carnivore conflict. From snow track survey data collected over a 5-winter period we developed a population-level resource selection function for Canada lynx Lynx canadensis in Riding Mountain National Park, Canada. This park has been characterized as an 'ecological island situated amidst a sea of agricultural land' and while lynx are protected within the park, they are subject to harvest outside of the park. Winter resource selection of lynx increased with higher elevation and in highly suitable habitat for snowshoe hare Lepus americanus and decreased in habitat with greater proportions of agriculture and grasslands, both of which are common along the edge of the park. Habitat with medium to high relative probabilities of lynx occurrence tended to be distributed in the interior of the park. However, the highest relative probability of lynx occurrence was associated with habitat near the southeast border of the park in close proximity to a human community and a lake where snowmobiling, skiing, and snowshoeing are common recreational pursuits. We attribute this relationship to a 25-year old fire which presently created successional habitat highly suitable for snowshoe hare and correspondingly for lynx in this area. Our results suggest that Canada lynx occurrence tends to be associated with habitat that is highly suitable for their primary prey even if that habitat is located near to sources of human recreational activity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-154
    Number of pages10
    JournalWildlife Biology
    Volume20
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 2014

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