Persistence in the context of this project is the ability of the Canada lynx population present in Minnesota to persist through a complete lynx-hare cycle. Data collected in the first few years of this project will help determine whether the population does persist at low densities in Minnesota during the low in the lynx-hare cycle. Demographic data from collared animals will allow us to predict survival and fecundity of Canada lynx present in Minnesota and build some initial population models, continuous observations of lynx would support the concept of persistence, but only the genetic data will make it possible to confirm persistence of Canada lynx in the Great Lakes Region. The scat and tissue samples that are being collected during this study will make it possible to determine whether lynx that are found in the future represent offspring of Canada lynx currently in Minnesota, or animals that have moved into Minnesota from Canada.
The question of persistence is important because it is unknown whether lynx remain in Minnesota at low population densities during lows in the lynx-hare cycle, or lynx are extirpated from Minnesota during the lows in the lynx-hare cycle and then recolonize the state from Canada as one hypothesis suggests for the populations in the contiguous U.S. Even 25 years ago the appearance of lynx from Canada during highs in the lynx-hare cycle was hypothesized to result from dispersal of lynx native to Canada (Mech 1973). Genetic evidence suggests that at least some of this dispersal results in gene flow between widely separated lynx populations (Schwartz et al. 2002). It is important to recognize, however, that the dispersal hypothesis does not require that lynx be extirpated from Minnesota during lows in the lynx-hare cycle.
Persistence of lynx in Minnesota in historical and current contexts is addressed in the 2008 Annual Report. The report is also available from the Publications page. If you have any questions, send us an email (email@example.com)