Pre-reinforcement Survey of the Potential Release Sites and the Genetic and Demographic Status of Residual Lynx
The goal of this action is to obtain information about the current genetic status, abundance, and sex-specific territorial distribution of lynx in potential release areas before conducting translocations. The success of any animal translocation effort, in part, hinges on the selection of appropriate release sites. Lynx exclude individuals of the same sex from their territory, but allow overlap with individuals of the opposite sex. Ideally, a translocated lynx will be placed in a territory of an animal of the opposite sex and without territorial lynx of the same sex. The data from this action will allow us to pinpoint optimal release sites. This information will be essential in preparing the reinforcement plan, as well as for guiding the first phases of the reinforcement, maximizing chances for survival and reproduction of the released lynx, and minimizing disturbance to existing territorial pairs. We will use several complementary methods and upgrade several in order to reduce total costs needed for obtaining the necessary information.
Activities inside this action include:
1) Distribution of questionnaires among hunting clubs and other holders of hunting rights to obtain updated information about lynx distribution as well as to promote collaboration.
2) Conducting genetic sampling and camera trapping, in collaboration with public institutions and hunting clubs, to obtain information needed for individual lynx identification, territorial limits, and the sex of lynx present in a given territory, which are crucial for selection of potential release sites.
3) Genetic analysis of newly collected lynx samples and samples from genetic banks in Slovenia and Croatia in order to estimate loss of genetic diversity in Dinaric lynx before the reinforcement.
4) Optimization of current laboratory methods at the University of Ljubljana in order to make the analysis more reliable and cost-effective.