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Ecology of the lynx Lynx lynx in Bialowieza Primeval Forest Ekologia rysia Lynx lynx w Puszczy Bialowieskiej

Ecology of the lynx Lynx lynx in Bialowieza Primeval Forest Ekologia rysia Lynx lynx w Puszczy Bialowieskiej

Wiadomosci Ekologiczne 451: 17-41

This paper reviews the results of a long-term research program on ecology of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), conducted in Bialowieza Primeval Forest (BPF) in 1985-1996. Spatial organization of lynx population was based on territoriality, with home ranges of adult males covering, on average, 165 km2 in autumn-winter and 143 km2 in spring-summer, those of adult females 94 and 55 km2, respectively, and home ranges of subadults covering 64 and 68 km2 (Table I, Fig. 1). Home ranges of adult females leading kittens were smallest in May-June, soon after parturitions. Male home ranges increased markedly in December-February, i.e. before and during mating season (Fig. 2). Young lynxes began dispersal when 10-11 months old. They travelled through forests and wooded terrain and settled 5 to 129 km away from their natal ranges (Fig. 3). In 1869-1994, lynx population in BPF underwent two periods of extermination (Fig. 4). In the 1990s (protected population), winter densities of lynxes were 3-5.3 inds/100 km2, including, on average, 29% of adult males, 24% adult females, 12% subadults, and 35% kittens. Mortality rate was 50% in the first year of lynx life, and, on average, 24% per annum in the following years. Poaching and diseases were the most important causes of adult lynx mortality. Major components of lynx diet in BPF were roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), juvenile and female red deer (Cervus elaphus), and brown hare (Lepus europaeus) (Fig. 6). On average, a lynx killed an ungulate prey every 5.4 days. Killing rates were the highest in adult females rearing kittens (Table II). Lynxes were largely nocturnal and spent on average 6.5 h/day moving. Variation in the duration of daily activity was shaped predominantly by successful kills and degree of prey consumption (Fig. 8). In the 1990s, lynx population in BPF consumed annually 21-36% of summer (seasonally highest) densities of roe deer, an amount equivalent to 52-85% of roe deer annual increase due to reproduction (Fig. 9).

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