The choice of foraging areas by large carnivores can be driven both by prey abundance and landscape attributes and it is likely that the relative importance of these two components changes on different spatial scales. In the Bohemian Forest (southwestern Bohemia, Czech Republic), we focused on the effect of microhabitat. We tested if Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx hunted merely in areas where its main prey, roe deer Capreolus capreolus and red deer Cervus elaphus, occurred (‘prey-occurrence hypothesis’) or if there were fine-scale habitat features that increased prey catchability (‘landscape hypothesis’). Fine-scale habitat features were recorded at sites where an ungulate had been killed and located using telemetry or by chance (in winter: N = 29 roe deer, N = 18 red deer; in summer: N = 33 roe deer, N = 5 red deer). We compared these features with those recorded at locations where live red or roe deer were recorded using telemetry (N = 100 per species per six-month period). In winter, lynx killed both roe and red deer at sites where there was a greater heterogeneity in terms of visibility than at sites where live ungulates were recorded, i.e. at kill sites there were both good stalking cover and good visibility. In addition, the risk of predation for red deer was negatively correlated with tree density. In summer, the risk of predation for roe deer was not associated with any of the habitat variables measured. Thus, the presence of a kill was associated with particular fine-scale habitat features in winter, while in summer it was simply associated with where prey occurred. A deeper understanding of the type of habitat favoured by lynx is fundamental to the management and conservation of this species. Based on our results, forest management should ensure that the level of habitat heterogeneity is favourable for lynx.
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Vol. 19 • No. 2