Long-term frequent usage of a particular site by lynxes

Co-author Irina Rotenko

In Naliboki Forest (the central-northern Belarus) as well as in other habitats in an individual lynx home range there are quite a lot sites, which are used by the individual lynx for a number of purposes.

Among such sites can be distinguished the following their types: marking points; sleeping or generally resting sites; lairs (breeding dens); hunting ambuscades; grooming sites; refuges to avoid blood-sucking insects and(or) precipitations; playgrounds of kittens; places, where mother lynx can nurse kittens safely and leave them alone for a while. Marking points are the most numerous sites of lynxes; particularly adult males have hundreds of them. However, almost each lynx has not a few own sites of the other above-listed types.

In many cases the local habitat conditions and site specificity can satisfy the most of lynx requirements such as sleeping and grooming in a dry spot without much disturbance from blood-sucking insects and(or) precipitations; effective hunting ambuscade; suitable marking point; relevant and safe spot to stay with kittens. Such kind of sites are usually visited by lynxes rather often. According to the gained results (Sidorovich, 2022), spatial structure of the lynx population in Belarus (in Naliboki Forest particularly) is packed; in an adult male home range one to three mother lynxes with kittens or non-breeding adult females as well as subadult lynxes live continuously. Therefore, such multi-functional lynx sites can be visited and used regularly by different individuals.

In the below video and photographs you will see the lynx site, which was traced by us during seven years and where we registered 6 different adult males, 4 mothers with kittens (one of the mothers used the site for four years, while other mother was registered there for two years), and 5 smaller lone lynxes perhaps subadults. During those seven years ten days was enough to get one lynx visit of this site. Sometimes, lynxes visited the site every day and even several times (up to three times) per twenty-four hours. The frequency of usage of the site by lynxes evidently depended on the species population density in Naliboki Forest. When there were 4-6 lynxes per 100 square km, one lynx visit of the site was documented for 3-5 twenty-four hours on average, whereas after the decline in the lynx local population up to 1-3 inds per 100 square km one lynx visit of the site was registered for 7-11 twenty-four hours on average.

In the site lynxes were grooming, resting, sometimes sleeping; they evidently stayed for an ambush hunting; used the site as a playground for kittens; mother lynxes nursed kittens or kittens were eating something that their mother brought; mothers left kittens in the site for a while to go for hunting; also, lynxes marked the site frequently by urine, skin gland secreting, and by scats sometimes.

The lynx site consists of a line of five large root plates of uprooted big spruces, which are stretched at the edge of treefall. At the internal side of these root plates, it is dry and no wind usually. Along the edge of treefall just behind of the root plates there is a pathway, by which suitable prey of lynxes (roe deer, red deer (calves), wild boars (piglets), raccoon dogs, red foxes, mountain hares walk not infrequently. Moreover, nearby the lynx site at the treefall edge a small recent clearcut situated.  In this clearcut with early reforestation the above-mentioned potential prey of lynxes feed often. So, the lynxes that stay in the site at uprooted spruces can rest, groom, sleep and use an ambush hunting at the same time. In the site several trunks of fallen trees situated about two metres as high. Additionally in the treefall nearby the lynx site there are standing trees.  Therefore, kittens staying in the spot can escape on the height easily, if there is a danger.

In the upper video and photographs that are given below you see some registrations of lynxes in the site.

You can support the research on large carnivores in Naliboki Forest by buying just a coffee. It will help to keep the study going.

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