The Roles of Diet And Landscape Connectivity in the Distribution of Canada Lynx And Bobcats in the Northern Forest of New EnglandEPA Grant Number: F5F21809
Title: The Roles of Diet And Landscape Connectivity in the Distribution of Canada Lynx And Bobcats in the Northern Forest of New England
Investigators: Farrell, Laura
Institution: University of Vermont
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through August 31, 2008
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships
The objectives of this research are to
- provide baseline distributions of Canada lynx and bobcats in the Northern Forest region in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont,
- determine what constitutes landscape connectivity for these two felids,
- and analyze their dietary flexibility in optimal and suboptimal habitats.
With the aid of a scat-detecting dog and an orienteer, I will retrieve lynx and bobcat fecal samples in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Survey areas are selected for their different degrees of connectivity and fragmentation, in order to determine what constitutes a passable landscape, and where connectivity falls off for lynx and bobcat. Mitochondrial DNA extracted from a portion of each scat will establish the identity of donor species, and provide information on population structure. Visual identification of prey remains in the remainder of each sample will be used to quantify diets. Prey use between areas will show how diverse the diets of lynx and bobcat become when using suboptimal habitat. Collection spots of scats of each species will give point locations for lynx or bobcats. Locations of lynx and bobcat in relation to habitat connectivity and fragmentation, and distance to anthropogenic influences such as roads, agriculture, development, or recreational areas will be modeled. This information will be useful in efforts to construct regional wildlife corridors.
I anticipate that bobcats will have a wider dietary niche than lynx, and that lynx will be more tightly associated with lagomorphs and sciurids. In suboptimal habitats it is likely that both species will take a wider range of prey species. As the landscape becomes more highly fragmented and connectivity declines, dispersal of these two species across the landscape is expected to decrease. Other research indicates that bobcats will be more sensitive to fragmentation.