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Data for: Long-term changes in habitat selection and prey spectrum in a reintroduced Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) population in Switzerland

Citation

Vogt, Kristina et al. (2023), Data for: Long-term changes in habitat selection and prey spectrum in a reintroduced Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) population in Switzerland, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.sf7m0cg7v

Abstract

When wild-caught Euan lynx (Lynx lynx) from the Slovak Carpathian Mountains were reintroduced to Central Switzerland in the early 1970s and spread through the north western Swiss Alps (NWA), they faced a largely unfamiliar landscape with strongly fragmented forests, high elevations and intense human land use. For more than 30 years, radiocollared lynx have been monitored during three different project periods (in the 1980s, 1990s and 2010s). Our study explored, how lynx over generations have learned to adjust to the alpine environment. We predicted that (1) lynx nowadays select more strongly for open habitats, higher elevations and steep slopes compared to the early stages of recolonization and that (2) consequently, there were significant changes in the Eurasian lynx’ prey spectrum. To test our predictions, we analysed telemetry data (VHF, GPS) of 13 adult resident lynx in the NWA over 35 years, using Resource Selection Functions. Furthermore, we compared kills recorded from different individuals inhabiting the same region during three project periods. In general, lynx preferred forested areas, but over the years, they avoided open habitat less. Compared to the early stage of the recolonization, lynx in the most recent project period selected for higher elevations and the proportion of chamois in their prey spectrum surmounted that of roe deer. Potential driving factors for the observed changes could be increasing tolerance to human presence, intraspecific competition or fitness benefits through exploitation of new resources. Long-term studies like ours provide important insight into how animals can respond to sudden environmental changes e.g., in the course of translocations into new areas or anthropogenic alterations of their habitats.

Methods

RSF dataset:

This table contains VHF and GPS locations of Eurasian lynx associated with habitat variables and project period id that were used to build a RSF model for Eurasian lynx. The table is divided into used (actual) lynx locations and random locations (use=0) in a ratio of 1:1 (column "use"). The table also includes an animal id and a measure of localisation accuracy (column "accuracy", 2= position located with an accuracy of ± 500 m (at least 3 bearings), 3= position located with an accuracy of ± 50 m, 4= exact position affirmed through direct observation, a kill or tracks). Habitat type is defined as 1= forest, 2= open habitat, and 3= unsuitable habitat. The project periods are NWA I (1983 – 1985), NWA II (1997 – 2001) and NWA III (2011 – 2017). GPS telemetry was used in NWA III, VHF telemetry for NWA I and NWA II. For information on the raw data or for R-code used to run the models please contact the data owner.

Prey winter dataset:

This table contains data on ungulate species (roe deer, Alpine chamois) predated by radio-collared Eurasian lynx in the same study area during three project periods (NWA I: 1983 – 1985; NWA II: 1997 – 2001; NWA III: 2011 – 2017). Only kills found in winter (November to April) are included. For each prey item the kill date (defined from telemetry data) and several habitat variables are given. Habitat type is defined as 1= forest, 2= open habitat, and 3= unsuitable habitat.