Which are the best locations to photograph lynx?

Posted - Feb 16, 2022

One of the main challenges of surveying lynx with camera traps is to find locations for camera traps where the chance of recording lynx is highest. Camera traps are thus often set at forest roads, which are often used by lynx, however our experience from the Dinarics shows that setting up cameras at prominent rocks, scent-marking sites or mountain ridges also provides good lynx records.

Choosing the best location for a camera trap at a ridge. Photo: Ariadne Kibbelaar

In the scope of an internship at the Slovenia Forest Service, Ariadne Kibbelaar analyzed the camera trapping data from three consecutive camera-trap survey years (2018-2020) in the Slovenian Dinaric Mountains. Using statistical modelling, she checked whether we are more successful at recording lynx on camera traps at forest roads, marking sites or other prominent landscape features, and if this is different for males vs females, and if it changes in mating vs non mating season.

Setting a camera trap at a forest road.  Photo: Urša Fležar, LIFE Lynx

The results showed that we are most successful at recording lynx at scent marking sites. Scent marking behaviour is important for solitary felids, including lynx. These locations are then often revisited by lynx for interspecific communication; marking the territory or finding mates.  What was also evident was that the overall success of capturing lynx on camera was higher in the mating season than outside the mating season. However, that difference did not show if only considering marking sites which is interesting since we know that territorial scent marking behavior is most intensive in that time, especially for males. In this study, it was only confirmed that males use marking sites more than females outside the mating season.

Forest huts are often used by lynx as scent marking locations. Photo: Ariadne Kibbelaar

These results could be used to optimize future field design for surveying lynx with camera traps and to consider different spatial and temporal setup in future analyses using lynx camera trapping data from the Dinaric Mountains.