The recently published study Dolines and Cats: Remote Detection of Karst Depressions and Their Application to Study Wild Felid Ecology, is one of the first that primarily relies on remote sensing data to detect microhabitat characteristics on a large scale. It is also a good example of interdisciplinary collaboration between bio- and geo-scientists, where the authors demonstrated the applicability of automatic methods for remote sensing of relief features in the study of microhabitat characteristics and ecology of wild cats. The authors are researchers from the Anton Melik Geographical Institute (ZRC SAZU), the Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources (Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana) and Slovenia Forest Service, including several members of the LIFE Lynx team.
Extensive Dinaric fir-beech forests, which cover the rugged karst relief, are particularly suitable for wild cats in Slovenia. The study included data on karst depressions and GPS locations of wild felids, and lynx kill sites. In a preliminary study in the area of the Menišija plateau and the Logatec-Begunje plain, the authors assessed the selection of these features by two wild felid species and additionally importance of karst depressions for lynx hunting behavior. They discovered that both species preferred the vicinity of karst depressions, among which they especially selected for larger karst depressions. Lynx also regularly killed ungulate prey near these features, as more than half (58%) of lynx prey remains were found inside or in close vicinity of karst depressions.
Interpretation of microhabitat characteristics such as vegetation and relief is important for a more detailed understanding of the ecology and conservation of key wild felids’ habitats.
For more information about the study, read the article: