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Doctoral thesis on interactions between lynx and wolverines

Published 18 Mar 2011

For her doctoral thesis, Jenny Mattisson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has studied interactions between lynx and wolverines in the reindeer husbandry area.

Examination of a lynx killed reindeer, visited by wolverine. Photo © J. Person.

Mattisson’s study shows that lynx and wolverines can coexist without greater negative impact on each other. Wolverines even takes advantage of coexistence, through utilising reindeer killed by lynx.

Both lynx and wolverines mainly prey on reindeer. While lynx almost always kills its own prey, wolverines are both hunters and scavengers.

With the help of GPS-transmitters, the movements of individual lynx and wolverines have been studied in Sarek in Sweden, and in Troms and Finnmark in Norway. The observations show that wolverines and lynx have an overlapping territory and that they move around unaffected by each other. There is little competition between the two species and there are no known cases of lynx killing wolverines, in spite of their difference in size.  

Mattisson’s study shows that reindeer is the most important prey for lynx, but that the number of reindeer a lynx will kill during a period of time, varies a lot according to sex, season and their access to reindeer.

Reindeer is the most important prey also for wolverines. However, of the reindeer observed utilised by wolverines, only 13 % were actually killed by wolverines, while 61 % were killed by lynx. The rest were reindeer killed for other reasons, e.g. accidents.

In 29 % of the observed incidences, the lynx had not managed to fully make the most out of its prey when the wolverine arrived at the cadaver. However, it does not seem like the wolverines chase the lynx from their prey, but rather visits the cadaver when the lynx is at some distance resting. 

When the wolverine utilises a reindeer killed by lynx, there is less food for the lynx. The studies show that the lynx has to kill its next reindeer more  rapidy than if the the wolverine had not been there.


Download the thesis here:

Interactions between Eurasian Lynx and Wolverines in the Reindeer Husbandry Area

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