Patterns of Lynx Predation at the Interface between Protected Areas and Multi-Use Landscapes in Central Europe.
ABSTRACT: In Central Europe, protected areas are too small to ensure survival of populations of large carnivores. In the surrounding areas, these species are often persecuted due to competition with game hunters. Therefore, understanding how predation intensity varies spatio-temporally across areas with different levels of protection is fundamental. We investigated the predation patterns of Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) in both protected areas and multi-use landscapes of the Bohemian Forest Ecosystem. Based on 359 roe and red deer killed by 10 GPS-collared lynx, we calculated the species-specific annual kill rates and tested for effects of season and lynx age, sex and reproductive status. Because roe and red deer in the study area concentrate in unprotected lowlands during winter, we modeled spatial distribution of kills separately for summer and winter and calculated-the probability of a deer killed by lynx and-the expected number of kills for areas with different levels of protection. Significantly more roe deer (46.05-74.71/year/individual lynx) were killed than red deer (1.57-9.63/year/individual lynx), more deer were killed in winter than in summer, and lynx family groups had higher annual kill rates than adult male, single adult female and subadult female lynx. In winter the probability of a deer killed and the expected number of kills were higher outside the most protected part of the study area than inside; in summer, this probability did not differ between areas, and the expected number of kills was slightly larger inside than outside the most protected part of the study area. This indicates that the intensity of lynx predation in the unprotected part of the Bohemian Forest Ecosystem increases in winter, thus mitigation of conflicts in these areas should be included as a priority in the lynx conservation strategy.
Project description:The effects of predation on ungulate populations depend on several factors. One of the most important factors is the proportion of predation that is additive or compensatory respectively to other mortality in the prey, i.e., the relative effect of top-down and bottom-up processes. We estimated Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) kill rate on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) using radio-collared lynx. Kill rate was strongly affected by lynx social status. For males it was 4.85 ± 1.30 S.E. roe deer per 30 days, for females with kittens 6.23 ± 0.83 S.E. and for solitary females 2.71 ± 0.47 S.E. We found very weak support for effects of prey density (both for Type I (linear) and Type II (non-linear) functional responses) and of season (winter, summer) on lynx kill rate. Additionally, we analysed the growth rate in a roe deer population from 1985 to 2005 in an area, which lynx naturally re-colonized in 1996. The annual roe deer growth rate was lower after lynx re-colonized the study area, but it was also negatively influenced by roe deer density. Before lynx colonized the area roe deer growth rate was ? = 1.079 (± 0.061 S.E.), while after lynx re-colonization it was ? = 0.94 (± 0.051 S.E.). Thus, the growth rate in the roe deer population decreased by ?? = 0.14 (± 0.080 S.E.) after lynx re-colonized the study area, which corresponded to the estimated lynx predation rate on roe deer (0.11 ± 0.042 S.E.), suggesting that lynx predation was mainly additive to other mortality in roe deer. To conclude, this study suggests that lynx predation together with density dependent factors both influence the roe deer population dynamics. Thus, both top-down and bottom-up processes operated at the same time in this predator-prey system.
Project description:Risk of predation is an evolutionary force that affects behaviors of virtually all animals. In this study, we examined how habitat selection by roe deer was affected by risk of predation by Eurasian lynx - the main predator of roe deer in Scandinavia. Specifically, we compared how habitat selection by roe deer varied (1) before and after lynx re-established in the study area and (2) in relation to habitat-specific risk of predation by lynx. All analyses were conducted at the spatial and temporal scales of home ranges and seasons. We did not find any evidence that roe deer avoided habitats in which the risk of predation by lynx was greatest and information-theoretic model selection showed that re-colonization by lynx had limited impact on habitat selection by roe deer despite lynx predation causing 65% of known mortalities after lynx re-colonized the area. Instead we found that habitat selection decreased when habitat availability increased for 2 of 5 habitat types (a pattern referred to as functional response in habitat selection). Limited impact of re-colonization by lynx on habitat selection by roe deer in this study differs from elk in North America altering both daily and seasonal patterns in habitat selection at the spatial scales of habitat patches and home ranges when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. Our study thus provides further evidence of the complexity by which animals respond to risk of predation and suggest that it may vary between ecosystems and predator-prey constellations.
Project description:The Bohemian Forest Ecosystem encompasses various wildlife management systems. Two large, contiguous national parks (one in Germany and one in the Czech Republic) form the centre of the area, are surrounded by private hunting grounds, and hunting regulations in each country differ. Here we aimed at unravelling the influence of management-related and environmental factors on the distribution of red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in this ecosystem. We used the standing crop method based on counts of pellet groups, with point counts every 100 m along 218 randomly distributed transects. Our analysis, which accounted for overdispersion as well as zero inflation and spatial autocorrelation, corroborated the view that both human management and the physical and biological environment drive ungulate distribution in mountainous areas in Central Europe. In contrast to our expectations, protection by national parks was the least important variable for red deer and the third important out of four variables for roe deer; protection negatively influenced roe deer distribution in both parks and positively influenced red deer distribution in Germany. Country was the most influential variable for both red and roe deer, with higher counts of pellet groups in the Czech Republic than in Germany. Elevation, which indicates increasing environmental harshness, was the second most important variable for both species. Forest cover was the least important variable for roe deer and the third important variable for red deer; the relationship for roe deer was positive and linear, and optimal forest cover for red deer was about 70% within a 500 m radius. Our results have direct implications for the future conservation management of deer in protected areas in Central Europe and show in particular that large non-intervention zones may not cause agglomerations of deer that could lead to conflicts along the border of protected, mountainous areas.
Project description:1. Understanding the role of predation in shaping the dynamics of animal communities is a fundamental issue in ecological research. Nevertheless, the complex nature of predator-prey interactions often prevents researchers from modelling them explicitly. 2. By using periodic Leslie-Usher matrices and a simulation approach together with parameters obtained from long-term field projects, we reconstructed the underlying mechanisms of predator-prey demographic interactions and compared the dynamics of the roe deer-red fox-Eurasian lynx-human harvest system with those of the moose-brown bear-gray wolf-human harvest system in the boreal forest ecosystem of the southern Scandinavian Peninsula. 3. The functional relationship of both roe deer and moose ? to changes in predation rates from the four predators was remarkably different. Lynx had the strongest impact among the four predators, whereas predation rates by wolves, red foxes, or brown bears generated minor variations in prey population ?. Elasticity values of lynx, wolf, fox and bear predation rates were -0·157, -0·056, -0·031 and -0·006, respectively, but varied with both predator and prey densities. 4. Differences in predation impact were only partially related to differences in kill or predation rates, but were rather a result of different distribution of predation events among prey age classes. Therefore, the age composition of killed individuals emerged as the main underlying factor determining the overall per capita impact of predation. 5. Our results confirm the complex nature of predator-prey interactions in large terrestrial mammals, by showing that different carnivores preying on the same prey species can exert a dramatically different demographic impact, even in the same ecological context, as a direct consequence of their predation patterns. Similar applications of this analytical framework in other geographical and ecological contexts are needed, but a more general evaluation of the subject is also required, aimed to assess, on a broader systematic and ecological range, what specific traits of a carnivore are most related to its potential impact on prey species.
Project description:Prey selection is a key factor shaping animal populations and evolutionary dynamics. An optimal forager should target prey that offers the highest benefits in terms of energy content at the lowest costs. Predators are therefore expected to select for prey of optimal size. Stalking predators do not pursue their prey long, which may lead to a more random choice of prey individuals. Due to difficulties in assessing the composition of available prey populations, data on prey selection of stalking carnivores are still scarce. We show how the stalking predator Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) selects prey individuals based on species identity, age, sex and individual behaviour. To address the difficulties in assessing prey population structure, we confirm inferred selection patterns by using two independent data sets: (1) data of 387 documented kills of radio-collared lynx were compared to the prey population structure retrieved from systematic camera trapping using Manly's standardized selection ratio alpha and (2) data on 120 radio-collared roe deer were analysed using a Cox proportional hazards model. Among the larger red deer prey, lynx selected against adult males-the largest and potentially most dangerous prey individuals. In roe deer lynx preyed selectively on males and did not select for a specific age class. Activity during high risk periods reduced the risk of falling victim to a lynx attack. Our results suggest that the stalking predator lynx actively selects for size, while prey behaviour induces selection by encounter and stalking success rates.
Project description:Faced with rapid environmental changes, individuals may express different magnitude and plasticity in their response to a given stressor. However, little is known about the causes of variation in phenotypic plasticity of the stress response in wild populations. In the present study, we repeatedly captured individual roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) from two wild populations in Sweden exposed to differing levels of predation pressure and measured plasma concentrations of stress-induced cortisol and behavioral docility. While controlling for the marked effects of habituation, we found clear between-population differences in the stress-induced cortisol response. Roe deer living in the area that was recently recolonized by lynx (Lynx lynx) and wolves (Canis lupus) expressed cortisol levels that were around 30% higher than roe deer in the human-dominated landscape free of large carnivores. In addition, for the first time to our knowledge, we investigated the stress-induced cortisol response in free-ranging newborn fawns and found no evidence for hypo-responsiveness during early life in this species. Indeed, stress-induced cortisol levels were of similar magnitude and differed between populations to a similar extent in both neonates and adults. Finally, at an individual level, we found that both cortisol and docility levels were strongly repeatable, and weakly negatively inter-correlated, suggesting that individuals differed consistently in how they respond to a stressor, and supporting the existence of a stress-management syndrome in roe deer.
Project description:Predator-prey theory predicts that in the presence of multiple types of predators using a common prey, predator facilitation may result as a consequence of contrasting prey defense mechanisms, where reducing the risk from one predator increases the risk from the other. While predator facilitation is well established in natural predator-prey systems, little attention has been paid to situations where human hunters compete with natural predators for the same prey. Here, we investigate hunting-mediated predator facilitation in a hunter-predator-prey system. We found that hunter avoidance by roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) exposed them to increase predation risk by Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). Lynx responded by increasing their activity and predation on deer, providing evidence that superadditive hunting mortality may be occurring through predator facilitation. Our results reveal a new pathway through which human hunters, in their role as top predators, may affect species interactions at lower trophic levels and thus drive ecosystem processes.
Project description:The greatest threat to the protected Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Central Europe is human-induced mortality. As the availability of lynx prey often peaks in human-modified areas, lynx have to balance successful prey hunting with the risk of encounters with humans. We hypothesized that lynx minimize this risk by adjusting habitat choices to the phases of the day and over seasons. We predicted that (1) due to avoidance of human-dominated areas during daytime, lynx range use is higher at nighttime, that (2) prey availability drives lynx habitat selection at night, whereas high cover, terrain inaccessibility, and distance to human infrastructure drive habitat selection during the day, and that (3) habitat selection also differs between seasons, with altitude being a dominant factor in winter. To test these hypotheses, we analyzed telemetry data (GPS, VHF) of 10 lynx in the Bohemian Forest Ecosystem (Germany, Czech Republic) between 2005 and 2013 using generalized additive mixed models and considering various predictor variables. Night ranges exceeded day ranges by more than 10%. At night, lynx selected open habitats, such as meadows, which are associated with high ungulate abundance. By contrast, during the day, lynx selected habitats offering dense understorey cover and rugged terrain away from human infrastructure. In summer, land-cover type greatly shaped lynx habitats, whereas in winter, lynx selected lower altitudes. We concluded that open habitats need to be considered for more realistic habitat models and contribute to future management and conservation (habitat suitability, carrying capacity) of Eurasian lynx in Central Europe.
Project description:The tapeworm Taenia lynciscapreoli is a new species of the genus Taenia described in 2016, and which remains poorly understood. The aim of the present study is to extend current knowledge regarding its, morphology and genome. Biological material was analysed from three species of wild animals: Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and moose (Alces alces). Twenty-four adult tapeworms and four larvae were obtained from Eurasian lynx and roe deer respectively; none were detected in the studied moose. On the basis of morphometric (hooks measurements) and molecular analysis (partial 780 bp cox 1 gene sequences), the analysed tapeworm was identified as Taenia lynciscapreoli species. The phylogenetic analysis of the obtained sequences identified two haplotypes. The obtained findings can be used to supplement the species description. To our knowledge this is the first morphological and molecular identification of T. lynciscapreoli in roe deer, intermediate host, in Poland.
Project description:A new species of tapeworm, Taenia lynciscapreoli sp. n. (Cestoda, Cyclophyllidea), is described from the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), the main definitive host, and the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus and Capreolus pygargus), the main intermediate hosts, from Finland and Russia (Siberia and the Russian Far East). The new species was found once also in the wolf (Canis lupus) and the Eurasian elk/moose (Alces alces), representing accidental definitive and intermediate hosts, respectively. The conspecificity of adult specimens and metacestodes of Taenia lynciscapreoli sp. n. in various host species and regions, and their distinction from related species of Taenia, was confirmed by partial nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene. Morphologically, Taenia lynciscapreoli sp. n. can be separated unambiguously from all other species of Taenia by the shape of its large rostellar hooks, particularly the characteristically short, wide and strongly curved blade. If the large rostellar hooks are missing, Taenia lynciscapreoli may be separated from related species by a combination of morphological features of mature proglottids. It is suggested that Taenia lynciscapreoli has been present in published materials concerning the tapeworms of Lynx lynx and Lynx pardinus in Europe, but has been misidentified as Taenia pisiformis (Bloch, 1780). Taenia lynciscapreoli sp. n. has not been found in lynx outside the range of roe deer, suggesting a transmission pathway based on a specific predator-prey relationship. The present study applies a novel, simple approach to compare qualitative interspecific differences in the shape of rostellar hooks.