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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Large impact of Eurasian lynx predation on roe deer population dynamics

Andren H, Liberg O


The effects of predation on ungulate populations depend on several factors. One of the most important factors is the proportion of predation that is additive or compensatory respectively to other mortality in the prey, i.e., the relative effect of top-down and bottom-up processes. We estimated Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) kill rate on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) using radio-collared lynx. Kill rate was strongly affected by lynx social status. For males it was 4.85 +/- 1.30 S.E. roe deer per 30 days, for females with kittens 6.23 +/- 0.83 S.E. and for solitary females 2.71 +/- 0.47 S.E. We found very weak support for effects of prey density (both for Type I (linear) and Type II (non-linear) functional responses) and of season (winter, summer) on lynx kill rate. Additionally, we analysed the growth rate in a roe deer population from 1985 to 2005 in an area, which lynx naturally re-colonized in 1996. The annual roe deer growth rate was lower after lynx re-colonized the study area, but it was also negatively influenced by roe deer density. Before lynx colonized the area roe deer growth rate was lambda = 1.079 (+/- 0.061 S.E.), while after lynx re-colonization it was lambda = 0.94 (+/- 0.051 S.E.). Thus, the growth rate in the roe deer population decreased by Delta lambda = 0.14 (+/- 0.080 S.E.) after lynx re-colonized the study area, which corresponded to the estimated lynx predation rate on roe deer (0.11 +/- 0.042 S.E.), suggesting that lynx predation was mainly additive to other mortality in roe deer. To conclude, this study suggests that lynx predation together with density dependent factors both influence the roe deer population dynamics. Thus, both top-down and bottom-up processes operated at the same time in this predator-prey system.

Published in

2015, volume: 10, number: 3, article number: e0120570
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

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