Prey density, environmental productivity and home-range size in the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)


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Variation in size of home range is among the most important parameters required for effective conservation and management of a species. However, the fact that home ranges can vary widely within a species makes data transfer between study areas difficult. Home ranges of Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx vary by a factor of 10 between different study areas in Europe. This study aims to try and explain this variation in terms of readily available indices of prey density and environmental productivity. On an individual scale we related the sizes of 52 home ranges, derived from 23 (9:14 male:female) individual resident lynx obtained from south-eastern Norway, with an index of density of roe deer Capreolus capreolus. This index was obtained from the density of harvested roe deer within the municipalities covered by the lynx home ranges. We found a significant negative relationship between harvest density and home-range size for both sexes. On a European level we related the sizes of 111 lynx (48:63 male: female) from 10 study sites to estimates derived from remote sensing of environmental productivity and seasonality. A multiple linear regression model indicated that productivity of the study site had a clear negative relationship with home-range size. At both scales, sex emerged as a significant explanatory variable with males having larger home ranges than females. In addition, the size of male home-ranges increased faster with decreasing prey density than for females. These analyses support widely held predictions that variation in home-range size is due to variation in prey density.