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Mapping potential core areas for lynx (Lynx canadensis) using pellet counts from snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) and satellite imagery

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We used location data from radio-collared Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis Kerr, 1792), pellet-count data from snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus Erxleben, 1777), and cover-type data from satellite imagery to evaluate the relationship between the scale of habitat measurement and the potential for persistence of lynx in northeastern Minnesota, USA, at the southern extent of their range. We counted hare pellets at transects throughout northeastern Minnesota to index hare abundance in cover types. Pellet counts were highest in coniferous forest, regenerating–young forest, and shrubby grassland, and these cover types were greater inside lynx use areas than outside of them. Proportions of regenerating–young forest were greater at scales ≥5 km2. We used these results and satellite imagery to map potential lynx core areas. We predicted that 7%–20% of the study area was suitable for lynx. Areas that we predicted to be suitable for lynx corresponded with known core areas, including those withheld from analyses. To maintain habitat for lynx persistence, forest management should retain current levels of 10- to 30-year-old coniferous forest and include ≥5 km2 areas containing 40% of 10- to 30-year-old coniferous forest. Mapping of potential core areas would be improved if cover-type data from satellite imagery identified conifer regeneration.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth, 207 Swenson Science Building, 1035 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.

Publication date: May 2, 2011

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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