Interactions between Eurasian lynx and wolverines in the reindeer husbandry area

Sammanfattning: In conservation and management, carnivore species are often treated as isolated units, even though interspecific interactions can have important implications for the behaviour, demography and distribution of the species involved. In this thesis I used individual based GPS-location data to study interactions between two solitary predators in the reindeer husbandry area in Northern Scandinavia: The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), an obligate predator, and the wolverine (Gulo gulo), an opportunistic predator and scavenger. Semi-domestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) is the main prey for both species, which creates a conflict with the reindeer management. I found no major competition between lynx and wolverines. The two species had completely overlapping home ranges, they moved independently of each other and they generally selected for the same type of habitat: steep and rugged terrain mostly in deciduous forest and heath. The lynx is an efficient predator on reindeer and I observed a high variation in individual kill rates depending on lynx status, season and reindeer density. Wolverine predation was lower than lynx predation and although reindeer dominated wolverine diet it was mostly attained through scavenging, predominantly on lynx-killed reindeer. Although, wolverines scavenged two thirds of available lynx-killed reindeer, wolverine scavenging had only minor influence on lynx kill rate. My result suggests that wolverines benefit from being sympatric with lynx through increased scavenging opportunities while the costs for the lynx seem to be limited. I studied the interactions between lynx and wolverines in an area with high densities of both predators and prey and the outcomes may look different in other ecological settings. Especially, low prey densities are likely to enhance the potential for competition. This knowledge of interspecific interactions between lynx and wolverines will be useful for management and conservation of the two species in an area of conflict: the reindeer husbandry area.

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