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See detailManaging the carnivore comeback: assessing the adaptive capacity of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) to cohabit with humans in shared landscapes
Bouyer, Yaëlle ULg

Doctoral thesis (2015)

Conflicts between humans and large carnivores are one of the most visible examples of the challenges that arise when seeking to achieve coexistence between humans and wildlife. With their large spatial ... [more ▼]

Conflicts between humans and large carnivores are one of the most visible examples of the challenges that arise when seeking to achieve coexistence between humans and wildlife. With their large spatial requirements and predatory behavior, large carnivores are among the most difficult species to preserve in our modern day landscapes. Although large carnivores are usually considered as the epitomes of wilderness, because of human population growth and habitat fragmentation they are inexorably and increasingly faced with the need to live in human-modified landscapes. As a direct consequence, conflicts over depredation on livestock, competition for game species and sometimes over human injury or death will only increase if clear management measures are not taken. This is particularly true in Europe, where, after many decades of absence, large carnivores are recolonizing areas where millions of people are present and where landscapes have been drastically modified. Two approaches to integrating wildlife into a human-dominated world have been proposed at an international scale. The first solution is called land sparing, in which wildlife lives exclusively in protected or wilderness areas where contact between animals and humans will be reduced to the minimum. The second solution, called land sharing, proposes to integrate human activities and wildlife in the same landscapes in non-protected interface zones in what is often called a coexistence approach. In a context of scarce true wilderness areas and a continuum of human-modified habitats, land sharing (i.e. the coexistence approach) is seen as the only possible approach valid for Europe. While a coexistence approach can be readily implemented with smaller species, it can represent a major challenge for species with large space requirements and with predatory behavior. To help manage these species in a long-term conservation vision and to predict where potential conflicts could arise between humans and carnivores, information on large carnivores and their habitat use in anthropogenic landscapes is a pre-requisite. With the return of Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx in Western Europe, the most densely populated areas of the continent_ information on the species tolerance to human land use will help predict where it is likely to occur in anthropogenic landscapes. Data collected in Scandinavia over 15 years were used to assess the use of landscape by lynx. In this study, we explored the effect of anthropogenic and environmental factors on Eurasian lynx habitat use in Scandinavia. The work was developed along two main axes. The first axis aims to explore large scale potential patterns of lynx distribution through transferability of results obtained from habitat modelling to geographically different areas. Transferability of results was tested in two steps. Firstly, transferability success (i.e. predictive ability of the map) was tested at a regional scale using data on roe-deer, the main prey of lynx, to create a map of relative distribution and abundance of prey in southeastern Norway (Chapter 1). Secondly, transferability success was assessed at a larger extent and using data obtained from different sampling method (Chapter 2). A habitat suitability map for Eurasian lynx was produced to be used in management planning in geographically differentiated lynx management zones in Scandinavia. The results indicated that transferability of results from one region to an ecologically different region must be taken with caution. Nevertheless, the habitat suitability maps we constructed on the basis of extrapolation are a valuable asset to help management of the Scandinavian lynx population. The second axis deals with lynx habitat use in relation to anthropogenic and environmental predictors. Lynx tolerance to human presence was first explored by looking at the orientation of home range in the landscape, taking into account proxies of human presence (Chapter 3). Values of these proxies were compared both inside home ranges and within a buffer surrounding the home ranges for several lynx inhabiting an anthropogenic gradient going from near-wilderness to urban periphery. Results showed a high diversity in the extent to which individual lynx are exposed to human influence, indicating that lynx are highly adaptable in terms of living space. Lynx seemed to be able to orientate their home range in order to avoid highest human impacts and select for areas of medium human impacts. Building on these results, finer scale information on lynx habitat use in an anthropogenic landscape were obtained taking into consideration different types of behavior (day-beds, moving and killing) displayed by adult lynx, as well as the effect of cumulative anthropogenic pressures on habitat selection (Chapter 4). Our results showed that lynx select for areas with medium levels of human modification, avoiding both the areas with highest and least modification. Females in general appear to be less tolerant to human modification than males, especially for day-beds. Our study shows that Eurasian lynx can be considered as a species that is adaptable to human- induced changes in landscape even if its motivation to tolerate human presence is clearly linked to the presence and density level of its main prey, the roe deer. Our work shows that, contrary to much of the public and many conservation professionals’ opinions, land sharing with large carnivores in Europe may be possible – even in the immediate proximity to urban centers. However, it is important to bear in mind that these results were obtained from countries with a relatively low human population density; even though some individuals observed lived in the periphery of large cities, the level of habitat fragmentation is less severe than in most of Western Europe. In order to properly assess the capacity of Eurasian lynx to live in highly populated areas, such as the Benelux, more detailed information on lynx distribution from continental European will be needed. However, our results underline the value of combining both correlational and mechanistic studies, and the need for caution in extrapolating data too far from its original context. As large carnivore recovery continues to progress in Europe we may not yet have seen the limits of these species' abilities to adapt. [less ▲]

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See detailUsing zero-inlated models to predict the relative distribution and abundance of roe deer over very large spatial scales
Bouyer, Yaëlle ULg; Rigot, Thibaud; Panzacchi, Manuela et al

in Annales Zoologici Fennici (2015), 52

In Norway, recovering populations of large carnivores commonly prey on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Understanding predator habitat use and ecology requires fine-scaled information on prey distribution ... [more ▼]

In Norway, recovering populations of large carnivores commonly prey on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Understanding predator habitat use and ecology requires fine-scaled information on prey distribution and abundance. However, the massive spatial scales at which large carnivores use the landscape presents many practical and statistical challenges for developing functional prey distribution models. Pellet-count data from >1000 km of transects gathered across southeastern Norway from 2005 to 2011 were used to derive a map of relative prey abundance for roe deer. These data were modeled using zero-inflated hurdle models using both environmental and anthropogenic variables. Snow depth and agricultural fields were the most significant variables in explaining both presence and abundance. Internal k-cross validation of the model showed medium accuracy (Spearman r = 0.35), whereas external evaluation carried out on the basis of independently collected snow-tracking data (Spearman r = 0.37) and hunting statistics (Spearman r = 0.88) showed high accuracy. The map generated can facilitate both the study of broad scale processes linking predators and prey as well as roe deer management in southeastern Norway. [less ▲]

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See detailUsing hurdle models to create maps of prey densities in southeastern of Norway
Bouyer, Yaëlle ULg; Rigot, Thibaud; Panzacchi, Manuela et al

Conference (2012, August 15)

Knowing prey distribution and density in areas where carnivores are present is an important condition to have a better understanding of carnivore movements (Karanth et al. 2004 ; Herfindal et al. 2005 ... [more ▼]

Knowing prey distribution and density in areas where carnivores are present is an important condition to have a better understanding of carnivore movements (Karanth et al. 2004 ; Herfindal et al. 2005). Southeastern of Norway has recently been recolonized by the European Lynx (Lynx lynx) and the wolf (Canis lupus) and in order to be able to predict these carnivore movements, it is important to produce detailed models of their prey abundance and habitat use. Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), moose (Alces alces) and mountain hare (Lepus timidus) are commonly hunted by lynx and wolf in Norway (Odden et al. 2006, Wikenros 2001, Müller 2006) but even if these species are well present in the southeastern, no distribution maps are available yet. Using hurdle models, we create the prey maps and test the extent of predictive modeling. Finally, we discuss the limits existing when trying to develop and use predictive maps at large scale. [less ▲]

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See detailModeling the potential for Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) return in lowland Western Europe
Bouyer, Yaëlle ULg; Poncin, Pascal ULg; Beudels-Jamar, Roseline et al

Poster (2011, December 06)

In the last forty years, tolerance of anthropic environment has allowed large carnivores to recolonize and expand their distribution in Western Europe. To assess the full potential and consequences of ... [more ▼]

In the last forty years, tolerance of anthropic environment has allowed large carnivores to recolonize and expand their distribution in Western Europe. To assess the full potential and consequences of this return, habitat use and landscape modeling are particularly useful tools that allow conservationists to come up with reliable prediction, and policy makers to anticipate management planning. The considerable power of dispersal and important space requirements of these species necessitate large-scale modeling, but it is essential to work in parallel at very fine scale, as carnivores’ impact on human societies is mostly felt at local level. Management of large carnivores must therefore be multi-scalar, with different decisions taken at multiple levels. With the return of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) to lowland Western Europe, in regions of relatively high human densities, conservation- planning decisions must be knowledge based. Different approaches will be followed to analyze data at finer and larger scales. These include differential distribution and tolerance of lynx to fragmentation and anthropization, influence of landscape on lynx predation and the development of a conceptual model aiming at responding efficiently to conflicts with human populations. Results will permit the development of a lowland Western Europe habitat model, and to propose conservation measures adapted to the return of this emblematic carnivore. Results will permit the development of a lowland Western Europe habitat model, and to propose conservation measures adapted to the return of this emblematic carnivore. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluating radical conservation futures: strategies for assessing the potential for Eurasian lynx in the Benelux countries
Bouyer, Yaëlle ULg; Poncin, Pascal ULg; Beudels-Jamar, Roseline et al

Poster (2011, July 08)

Tolerance of anthropic environment has allowed large carnivores to recolonize and to be reintroduced within Europe in the last forty years. This indicates that, even in areas where the return of large ... [more ▼]

Tolerance of anthropic environment has allowed large carnivores to recolonize and to be reintroduced within Europe in the last forty years. This indicates that, even in areas where the return of large carnivores seems unlikely, their presence and establishment is possible, even in highly modified environments. In the current context of the return of large carnivores in Europe, there is a need for scientific conservation tools to assess the full potential and consequences of the return of large carnivores in Europe, and in particular to evaluate potential impact on game and livestock. Today, the return of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) in areas where it has been absent for long periods is becoming increasingly probable, and this requires further investigations. Three main lines of research will be particularly important: the use of habitat by Eurasian Lynx, the effect of habitat on predation behavior, and potential sources of conflict with human populations. The research project will address fine scale habitat use, the effect of prey‘s spatial variation on Lynx predation behavior, the use of different statistical methods to estimate Lynx‘s viability in various habitats and landscape, and a review of current conflicts throughout Europe. Results should allow better understanding of the Lynx redeployment potentials in lowland Western Europe [less ▲]

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See detailFramdriftsrapport for Scandlynx Norge 2011
Bouyer, Yaëlle ULg

Report (2011)

The 2011 annual reaport of the Scandlynx group actions. This reaport presents all the work done during the year 2011 by the different members.

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