Influence of intraguild interactions on resource use by wolverines and Eurasian lynx

Mattisson, J., H. Andrén, J. Persson, and P. Segerström

It is important to the conservation and management of threatened or endangered carnivores to recognize interspecific interactions that can influence demography or behavior of the species involved. We studied the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), an efficient predator, and wolverine (Gulo gulo), an opportunistic predator and scavenger, that coexist in the reindeer husbandry area in northern Sweden. Both species are major predators on semidomestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), but wolverines frequently scavenge ungulate carcasses. We examined the composition and use of food resources by wolverines and in particular the relative importance of lynx-killed reindeer in wolverine diet. We also examined the influence of wolverine scavenging on lynx kill rate. We found that 52% of carcasses visited by wolverines were lynx-killed reindeer, but only 11% were wolverine-killed reindeer. Of all wolverine locations at carcasses, 28% were on lynx-killed and 24% on wolverine-killed reindeer. Remaining locations were mainly on reindeer that died from accidents (23%) or were killed by unknown carnivores (9%). Lynx predation rate on reindeer was nine times higher than that of wolverines. Wolverines scavenged 68% of available lynx-killed reindeer, 29% of which were still being used by lynx at wolverine arrival. Still, wolverine scavenging had a limited influence on lynx kill rate. Time to next kill decreased only when the lynx kill was an adult reindeer in forest; however, most lynx-killed reindeer were found on tundra. Wolverines appear to benefit from coexistence with lynx through increased scavenging opportunities. We suspect that lynx presence reduces wolverine predation on reindeer due to increased scavenging opportunities. These results may have important implications for carnivore management in reindeer husbandry areas. 

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Mattisson, J., H. Andrén, J. Persson, and P. Segerström. 2011. Influence of intraguild interactions on resource use by wolverines and Eurasian lynx. Journal of Mammalogy 92(6):1321-1330.