Lynx (Felis lynx) of Riding Mountain National Park, an assessment of habitat availability and population viability

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Nylen-Nemetchek, Marcy
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An assessment of lynx (Felis lynx) habitat availability and population viability was performed for Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP), Manitoba, Canada from 1997 to 1999. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate and verify a methodology for estimating the viability of lynx as a part of the ecological assessment of RMNP. Verification of a lynx Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) model was pe formed for RMNP. Site specific lynx home-range-level attributes were obtained for three components of lynx habitat; foraging, denning, and interspersion, and a home-range-level habitat map was generated for RMNP. Snow-tracking was used as a practical means of verifying the HSI model. Lynx forage habitat availability appeared to be the limiting factor on lynx viability in RMNP based on home-range-level foraging, denning, and interspersion habitat maps. Habitat manipulations are recommended to increase the quality and quantity of lynx forage-type habitat in RMNP through means such as prescribed burns. Population viability for lynx was assessed for RMNP using a modelling framework. This framework was used to develop a map of viable, marginal, and non-viable home ranges and to index the number of lynx in RMNP. Historical lynx data, habitat alteration caused by human intervention, and vegetation successional trajectories were also examined and their relevance to lynx viability was discussed. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)