Eurasian lynx habitat selection in human-modified landscape in Norway: Effects of different human habitat modifications and behavioral states
- We model lynx habitat selection in relation with human-modified habitat and behaviors.
- Habitat selection is different between behaviors and levels of habitat modifications.
- Lynx select for areas of medium levels of human modification.
- Lynx avoid very low and very high modified areas.
- The results are promising in the context of lynx return to continental Europe.
Eurasian lynx are often regarded as being particularly sensitive to human land-use. However, in the European context where human influence is pervasive, the conservation of lynx requires that they be integrated into the human-dominated landscape. Although previous studies have looked at how lynx respond to human land-use in a broad sense, they have failed to examine the details of how different types of human induced impacts (forest fragmentation, human density, different types of transport infrastructure) influence distinct lynx behaviors. Furthermore, they have not examined the extent to which lynx modify their fine scaled avoidance behavior of anthropogenic landscape features according to the specific behaviors (resting sites, kill sites, movement) in which they are engaged and how these relationships are modified by prey density or the sex of the lynx. We used Resource Selection Functions to examine how 19 GPS-marked lynx in southeastern Norway responded to an index of cumulative human habitat modification while engaged in different activities. We found that lynx select for areas with medium levels of human modification, avoiding both the very highly modified and the areas with low degrees of modification. Females in general appear to be less tolerant of human modification than males, especially when it comes to resting sites. Terrain (ruggedness and elevation) appears to be important in permitting lynx to exploit heavily modified areas. Our study demonstrates that lynx show a nuanced response to human habitat modification, which offers hope for their conservation in Europe.
- Eurasian lynx;
- Anthropogenic disturbance;
- Habitat selection
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