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7 January 2022 Eurasian lynx density and habitat use in one of Europe's strongholds, the Romanian Carpathians
Ruben Iosif, Viorel D. Popescu, Liviu Ungureanu, Călin Şerban, Marissa A. Dyck, Barbara Promberger-Fürpass
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Abstract

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) faces population declines in the western part of its range, and its ecological requirements are poorly understood in the eastern part of its range. The Romanian Carpathians harbor an intact large carnivore community, in which lynx co-occur with bears (Ursus arctos), wolves (Canis lupus), and humans (Homo sapiens), with which they potentially compete for ungulate prey. We provide a science-based estimate of lynx density and habitat use, combining non-invasive monitoring techniques (camera trapping) with spatially explicit capture-recapture models (SECR) in the Southern Carpathians of Romania. We sampled 59 and 76 trap stations during two monitoring sessions (winter and autumn), identified at least 30 individuals, from which we reconstructed encounter histories for 23 individuals. SECR modeling resulted in similar density estimates between winter and autumn (1.6 ± 0.39 SE and 1.7 ± 0.38 SE lynx/100 km2, respectively), but the cumulative number of lynx detected reached the asymptote faster during autumn, suggesting that monitoring prior to the mating season is preferable. Density varied within and across sessions with topography (slope), percent forest cover, and landscape heterogeneity (i.e., agricultural mosaic). Density hotspots shifted between low-altitude agricultural mosaic during winter and more rugged, mid-altitude forest stands during autumn. Estimated densities of lynx in the Romanian Carpathians are higher than those reported in the Alps or Slovak Carpathians, highlighting the importance of this population as a source both for natural recolonization and recent reintroduction programs. When used in an SECR framework, camera trapping is an efficient method for assessing spatial and temporal variation in lynx population density in the remote Romanian Carpathians. We recommend this methodology for improving lynx population estimates and to monitor lynx population trends nationwide.

Ruben Iosif, Viorel D. Popescu, Liviu Ungureanu, Călin Şerban, Marissa A. Dyck, and Barbara Promberger-Fürpass "Eurasian lynx density and habitat use in one of Europe's strongholds, the Romanian Carpathians," Journal of Mammalogy 103(2), 415-424, (7 January 2022). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyab157
Received: 19 November 2020; Accepted: 30 November 2021; Published: 7 January 2022
KEYWORDS
abundance
camera trapping
density hotspot
detection
habitat use
Lynx lynx
spatially explicit capture recapture
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