Iberian Lynx Lynx pardinus Temminck, 1827 (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) in central Spain: trophic niche of an isolated population

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Pedro Alfaya
Ariadna Invernón
Germán Alonso


Understanding predator-prey relationships is fundamental to develop effective conservation plans.  Between 2015 and 2018, we combed 21 transects, each 7km long, searching for Iberian Lynx Lynx pardinus scat within the province of Madrid in central Spain.  In order to minimise inherent subjectivity of visual identification as much as possible, we performed a double specific nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by a primer extension assay addressed to two Iberian Lynx diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms.  Forty-six scat samples were positively identified as belonging to Iberian Lynx through genetic analysis.  From these, we extracted remains of consumed prey, which we determined to the lowest possible taxonomic level, mainly through hair identification.  Identified prey was divided into four types: lagomorphs, small mammals, birds, and ungulates.  The species’ diet composition was described based on the frequency of occurrence (FO) of each prey and niche breadth, and also compared with prior knowledge of the species using four prior studies as a comparative reference through the calculation of the niche overlap value.  The FO of lagomorphs (39%) was the lowest, while the FO of small mammals (54%) was the highest recorded to date.  The niche breath (0.36) was higher than recorded in prior studies, but still showing the specialist character of the Iberian Lynx.  Niche overlap was low (C = 0.49), showing differences in trophic niche between the population in our study area and the one studied in southern Spain.  This indicates that the Iberian Lynx is adept at switching its main prey, an ability that has previously been firmly rejected.  It is, however, capable of adapting to alternative prey more often than recorded to date, which could be a behavioural response to the patchy distribution of European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus in the study area.

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Alfaya, P., Invernón, A. and Alonso, G. 2020. Iberian Lynx Lynx pardinus Temminck, 1827 (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) in central Spain: trophic niche of an isolated population. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 12, 2 (Feb. 2020), 15229–15237. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.5506.12.2.15229-15237.


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