Prey Selection and Competition: Investigating Dietary Dynamics of Bobcat and Lynx in New Brunswick

Canadian Science Publishing
FACETS
Published in
2 min readMay 31, 2024

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Figure from facets-2023–0023

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are a flagship species for North America’s boreal forests. In recent years, however, the range of lynx has contracted northwards.

Competition with other wild cats, namely the bobcat (Lynx rufus), could be responsible but relatively little is known about interactions among bobcat and lynx.

Currently, the ranges of bobcat and lynx overlap in New Brunswick, Canada; northern parts of the province contain only lynx, whereas southern extremities contain only bobcat.

Read this open access paper on the FACETS website.

An east-west band in the center of the province contains both bobcat and lynx. Since consumption of shared prey is an important way bobcats and lynx might affect one another, we assessed prey selection of populations of bobcat and lynx living throughout New Brunswick in order to determine how the diets of bobcat and lynx were affected by contact with their counterpart.

In order to estimate prey selection, we measured and compared stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in muscle and liver of bobcat and lynx to those in muscle from three groups of potential prey: squirrel, vole, and hare.

We found that hare make up more than 50% of most bobcat and lynx diets throughout New Brunswick. However, lynx always specialized on hare, whereas bobcats ate hare most frequently when lynx were absent and consumed a greater variety of prey when lynx were present.

Although the role of bobcats in lynx declines remains unclear, our results both showcase lynxes’ reputation as a specialist predator of the snowshoe hare and highlight the adaptability of bobcats.

Read the paper — Niche partitioning of bobcat and Canada lynx near their distribution contact zone by Bobby J. Nakamoto, G. Forbes, C. Bursey, J. Cormier, A. O’Sullivan, and B. Hayden.

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Canadian Science Publishing
FACETS
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