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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Habitat use and connectivity for Canada lynx in the North Cascade Mountains, Washington Vanbianchi, Carmen Marie


Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) populations in the contiguous US comprise the southern extent of lynx range. Lynx were federally listed as Threatened in 2000, and they survive in sub-boreal forests of lower habitat quality than in the core of lynx range in Canada and Alaska. Southern lynx habitat is fragmented by topography, and increasingly by human impacts. Wildfires, which are projected to increase in frequency, size and intensity under climate change, also fragment southern lynx habitat. I used Global Positioning System radio-collar data from 17 lynx in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington collected during 2007 through 2013 to explore southern lynx habitat use in a fragmented landscape impacted by fire. I used Random Forest models to analyze core hunting, resting, and denning habitat, and the habitats lynx select while traveling between patches of core habitat. I also describe lynx use in new and old burns. Finally, based on the core and travel habitat models, I used Least Cost Path modelling to map connectivity linkages for lynx in the North Cascades. While selecting core habitat, lynx used spruce (Picea engelmannii)-fir (Abies lasiocarpa), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and mixed sub-boreal-Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) forests, and avoided dry forests and forest openings including new burns. While selecting travel habitat, lynx used a wider range of habitats, including new burns where fire skips and residual trees offered cover. In newly burned areas, lynx used areas near the burn perimeter, fire skips, and residual live trees, but avoided severely burned areas. In old burns, lynx used areas where cool and moist microclimates encouraged dense vegetative growth, regardless of the regenerating forest type or burn severity. My connectivity model reveals important linkages for lynx, connecting areas of currently occupied lynx habitat divided by the Methow Valley and by the 2006 Tripod Burn. The model also revealed linkages connecting currently occupied areas to areas historically occupied by lynx south of Lake Chelan.

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