Landscape composition mediates movement and habitat selection in bobcats (Lynx rufus): implications for conservation planning

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Abstract

Context: The analysis of individual movement choices can be used to better understand population-level resource selection and inform management. Objectives: We investigated movements and habitat selection of 13 bobcats in Vermont, USA, under the assumption individuals makes choices based upon their current location. Results were used to identify “movement-defined” corridors. Methods: We used GPS-collars and GIS to estimate bobcat movement paths, and extracted statistics on land cover proportions, topography, fine-scale vegetation, roads, and streams within “used” and “available” space surrounding each movement path. Compositional analyses were used to determine habitat preferences with respect to landcover and topography; ratio tests were used to determine if used versus available ratios for vegetation, roads, and streams differed from 1. Results were used to create travel cost maps, a primary input for corridor analysis. Results: Forested and scrub-rock land cover were most preferred for movement, while developed land cover was least preferred. Preference depended on the composition of the “available” landscape: Bobcats moved > 3 times more quickly through forest and scrub-rock habitat when these habitats were surrounded by agriculture or development than when the available buffer was similarly composed. Overall, forest edge, wetland edge and higher stream densities were selected, while deep forest core and high road densities were not selected. Landscape-scale connectivity maps differed depending on whether habitat suitability, preference, or selection informed the travel cost map. Conclusions: Both local and landscape scale land cover characteristics affect habitat preferences and travel speed of bobcats, which in turn can inform management and conservation activities.

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Abouelezz, H. G., Donovan, T. M., Mickey, R. M., Murdoch, J. D., Freeman, M., & Royar, K. (2018). Landscape composition mediates movement and habitat selection in bobcats (Lynx rufus): implications for conservation planning. Landscape Ecology, 33(8), 1301–1318. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-018-0654-8

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