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Southern range dynamics of Canada lynx over seven decades
  • Robby Marrotte,
  • Jeff Bowman
Robby Marrotte
Trent University
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Jeff Bowman
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
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Abstract

The range of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) has contracted substantially from its historical range prior to the 19th century. Using harvest records, we found that the southern range of the lynx in Ontario in the late 1940s collapsed and then in a short period of time increased to its largest extent in the mid-1960s where the lynx range spread south of the boreal forest for a decade. After this expansion the southern range contracted northwards beginning in the 1970s. Most recently, there has been a slight expansion between 2010-2017. We have attributed these dynamics on the southern range periphery to the fluctuation of the boreal lynx population in the core of the species’ range. In addition, connectivity to boreal lynx populations and snow depth seemed to condition whether the lynx expanded into an area. However, we did not find any evidence that would suggest that these changes were due to anthropogenic disturbances or competition. The boreal lynx population does not reach numbers as it once did, consequently we likely will not see large expansions of the southern lynx range as in the mid-1960s. Our results suggest that southern lynx range in Ontario have been driven by the magnitude of the boreal lynx population cycle, connectivity to the boreal forest and snow conditions. Therefore, it is quite unlikely that southern lynx population in the Great Lakes will ever recover, since the warming climate and forestry practices are causing a northward contraction of the boreal forest and likely with it the core lynx populations.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

13 Oct 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
14 Oct 2020Submission Checks Completed
14 Oct 2020Assigned to Editor
15 Oct 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
18 Nov 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
15 Jan 20211st Revision Received
16 Jan 2021Assigned to Editor
16 Jan 2021Submission Checks Completed
16 Jan 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Jan 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
05 Feb 20212nd Revision Received
12 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
12 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
12 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
18 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Accept