According to recent research, two similar species of wild cats in Ontario, Canada, are on different paths when it comes to their future survival. This raises the question of whether it is a case of “survival of the fittest.” As Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, we must pay attention to the impact of human actions on our wildlife.
The Canada lynx, scientifically known as Lynx canadensis, is a wild feline species found in North America.
The Bobcat, also known as Lynx rufus, can easily be mistaken for a domesticated cat by the untrained eye due to their similar physical appearance. However, these creatures are actually felids, which are members of the wild cat family. US Fish Wildlife Service has captured some great photos of these amazing animals.
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Trent in Peterborough, Ontario, bobcats seem to be surpassing lynxes in terms of survival and thriving in their changing habitat. Although there are no exact figures, the decreasing number of lynxes caught by trappers in comparison to bobcats suggests this trend. Additionally, the range of bobcats has now extended northward into lynx territory. The researchers believe that the reason for this is due to the different requirements and lifestyles of the two species. Lynxes are reliant on unbroken boreal forest covers and their diet consists almost exclusively of snowshoe hares, making them vulnerable when their population crashes. Bobcats, on the other hand, are generalists and can live in open habitats and young deciduous forests. They prey on a variety of species, giving them more options. As such, they are likely to be found in areas with the highest human impact. Moreover, deep-snow terrains, where lynxes have an advantage over bobcats while hunting, are decreasing due to global warming. Although the two breeds do interbreed occasionally, it is rare. Nevertheless, if bobcat numbers continue to increase alongside interbreeding, the gene dominance of bobcats could lead to extinction or extirpation of lynxes. Despite this, one researcher believes that it is premature to conclude extinction for the lynx. All it takes is a few good winters with denser snowshoe hare populations, and the bobcat could move out, allowing the lynx to return.