Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) occupy cold wet forests (boreal and subalpine forest) that were structured by natural disturbance processes for millennia. In the Southern Rocky Mountains, at the species’ southern range periphery, Canada lynx habitat has been recently impacted by large-scale disturbance from spruce beetles (Dendroctonus rufipennis). This disturbance poses a challenge for forest managers who must administer this novel landscape in ways that also facilitate timber salvage. To aid managers with this problem, we instrumented Canada lynx with GPS collars to document their selection of beetle impacted forests at spatial scales that spanned from landscapes to movement paths. We used a use-availability design based on remotely-sensed covariates to evaluate landscape- and path-level selection. We evaluated selection at the home-range scale in beetle-kill areas based on vegetation plots sampled in the field to quantify forest structure and composition. We found that across all scales of selection, Canada lynx selected forests with a higher proportion of beetle-kill trees that were generally larger in diameter than randomly available. Within home ranges, Canada lynx selected forests with greater live components of subalpine fir and live canopy of Engelmann spruce. During winter, Canada lynx exhibited functional responses, or disproportionate use relative to availability, for forest horizontal cover, diameter of beetle killed trees, live canopy of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and additive use (and consistent selection) for relative density of snowshoe hares and density of subcanopy subalpine fir 3-4.9 in. (7.6-12.4 cm) in diameter. We discuss our results in the context of balancing resource needs of Canada lynx with the desire to salvage timber in beetle-impacted forests.
Squires, John R.; Holbrook, Joseph D.; Olson, Lucretia E.; Ivan, Jacob S.; Ghormley, Randal W.; Lawrence, Rick L. 2020. A specialized forest carnivore navigates landscape-level disturbance: Canada lynx in spruce-beetle impacted forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 475: 118400.