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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Timing and synchrony of birth in Eurasian lynx across Europe

Mattisson, Jenny; Linnell, John D. C.; Anders, Ole; Belotti, Elisa; Breitenmoser-Wursten, Christine; Bufka, Ludek; Fuxjaeger, Christian; Heurich, Marco; Ivanov, Gjorge; Jedrzejewski, Wlodzimierz; Kont, Radio; Kowalczyk, Rafal; Krofel, Miha; Melovski, Dime; Mengulluoglu, Deniz; Middelhoff, Tomma Lilli; Molinari-Jobin, Anja; Odden, John; Ozolins, Janis; Okarma, Henryk;
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The ecology and evolution of reproductive timing and synchrony have been a topic of great interest in evolutionary ecology for decades. Originally motivated by questions related to behavioral and reproductive adaptation to environmental conditions, the topic has acquired new relevance in the face of climate change. However, there has been relatively little research on reproductive phenology in mammalian carnivores. The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) occurs across the Eurasian continent, covering three of the four main climate regions of the world. Thus, their distribution includes a large variation in climatic conditions, making it an ideal species to explore reproductive phenology. Here, we used data on multiple reproductive events from 169 lynx females across Europe. Mean birth date was May 28 (April 23 to July 1), but was similar to 10 days later in northern Europe than in central and southern Europe. Birth dates were relatively synchronized across Europe, but more so in the north than in the south. Timing of birth was delayed by colder May temperatures. Severe and cold weather may affect neonatal survival via hypothermia and avoiding inclement weather early in the season may select against early births, especially at northern latitudes. Overall, only about half of the kittens born survived until onset of winter but whether kittens were born relatively late or early did not affect kitten survival. Lynx are strict seasonal breeders but still show a degree of flexibility to adapt the timing of birth to surrounding environmental conditions. We argue that lynx give birth later when exposed to colder spring temperatures and have more synchronized births when the window of favorable conditions for raising kittens is shorter. This suggests that lynx are well adapted to different environmental conditions, from dry and warm climates to alpine, boreal, and arctic climates. This variation in reproductive timing will be favorable in times of climate change, as organisms with high plasticity are more likely to adjust to new environmental conditions.


carnivore; demography; Lynx lynx; reproductive phenology

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2022, volume: 12, number: 8, article number: e9147
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Mattisson, Jenny
Norwegian Institute Nature Research
Linnell, John D. C.
Norwegian Institute Nature Research
Linnell, John D. C.
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Anders, Ole
Harz Natl Pk
Belotti, Elisa
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
Breitenmoser-Würsten, Christine
Bufka, Ludek
Sumava Natl Pk and PLA Adm
Fuxjager, Christian
NP OO Kalkalpen GesmbH
Heurich, Marco
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Heurich, Marco
University of Freiburg
Ivanov, Gjorge
Jedrzejewski, Wlodzimierz
Polish Academy of Sciences
Kont, Radio
Tartu University Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
Kowalczyk, Rafal
Polish Academy of Sciences
Krofel, Miha
University of Ljubljana
Melovski, Dime
University of Gottingen
Mengulluoglu, Deniz
Ekoakademi Ekolojik Danışmanlık
Middelhoff, Tomma Lilli
Harz Natl Pk
Molinari-Jobin, Anja
Progetto Lince Italia
Odden, John
Norwegian Institute Nature Research
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UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Wildlife Management
Clinical Science

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