Difference in hunting styles of lynxes between the warm and cold season with implication for the home range structure

We have found a great difference in hunting styles of lynxes between the warm and cold seasons. In the cold season, particularly during the snow period lynxes hunt mostly by walking i.e. patrolling prey-rich habitats and suddenly attacking prey. In the warm season lynxes mainly wait for prey from a hide over prey pathway. Such waiting usually lasts about ten and more hours.

Totally, in July, 2017 in Paazierre Forest and Naliboki Forest there were registered, at least, 18 times situations, when lynxes were in a hide on trees waiting for prey quite long time, from about 4 until 32 hours. We called that a hide-watching, i.e watching from a hide. Also, lynxes frequently use open watching points at a height (an inclined trees etc.), where they scan surrounding habitats. It may last for hours, but more frequently 5-30 minutes only. It may be defined as open watching.

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Lynx in a hide watching for a prey that may pass under the hide; there is a trampled pathway under the hide.

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The registered maximum of 32 hours, when lynx was waiting for prey in a hide, was in the early winter. So, in winter lynxes use this hunting tactics as well. Neither urination nor defecation has been found under such a hide position despite long-term sitting of lynxes there. In telemetry data, this hunting behaviour with a lot of energy expenditure is surely registered as sleeping. That is for sure a mistakable artifact!

We have found that in the warm season about 10% (precisely 7-11%) only of the winter home range is in intensive usage (74-94% of the fixes) by lynxes, whereas in winter they tensely use markedly larger areas of the home range – 39-42% (79-87% of the fixes). We connect these changes with the different hunting styles only. Actually, by waiting for prey from a hide, lynx can exploit passing prey from a larger area.

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Lynx hide at canal bank

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Lynx at a high point on the fallen oaks watching for a prey around.
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Irina Rotenko putting a camera-trap directed at the lynx watching point.