In response to anthropogenic and natural environmental drivers, many species worldwide are experiencing changes to their distribution ranges. The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) has undergone a contraction of its historic range throughout North America, by approximately 40%. Possible causes of this loss of range include climate change, habitat loss and/or fragmentation, changes in forest management techniques, and competition with other predators, especially the closely-related bobcat (Lynx rufus). In recent decades, the bobcat’s range has been expanding northward into areas formerly and currently occupied by lynx.
My research aims to address fine-scale habitat selection by lynx and bobcats in northern Ontario, in order to determine how the bobcat may be limited as it expands its range and to assess the interactions between the two species. Through snow-tracking and placing GPS collars on lynx and bobcats on the north shore of Lake Huron, I am investigating the land-cover types, snow conditions, and prey species that the two species select within their home ranges. Understanding the resource use of these two species is important for informing conservation and management of the Canada lynx, a species that is threatened in the contiguous US and is a valuable natural resource.
Adult male lynx (March 2017) Juvenile female bobcat (March 2017)
Note: These animals were anesthetized and handled for research purposes and the photos were taken as I was returning them to cages for release. Taking the photos did not lengthen handling time or cause them additional stress.
Canada lynx tracks (March 2017) Bobcat tracks (Feb 2017)