Predator-prey interactions

What influence does the lynx have on roe deer and red deer?

A topic that always generates great interest in the context of hunting and forestry is the question of what effect the return of the lynx will have on the hoofed game populations in the Thuringian Forest. In order to answer this question during the project, the Wildlife Science Department of the Georg-August University of Göttingen was commissioned to monitor hoofed game with funding from WWF Germany.

Reintroductions of large predators, such as the lynx, influence the behavior of their prey and can therefore lead to conflicts of interest between different stakeholders from hunting, nature conservation, tourism and forestry.

For a scientifically informed discussion, it is essential to have a reliable database that examines the lynx’s use of space, but also the actual (i.e. not presumed or assumed) impact on the lynx’s prey. While the space-time behavior of the released lynx is investigated within the project “Lynx Thuringia”, this affiliated project aims to investigate the impact of the lynx on the hoofed game in the Thuringian Forest. With the support of ThüringenForst, a systematic monitoring of hoofed game with photo traps is to be carried out in the Thuringian Forest. This project aims to investigate the densities of hoofed game and the activity of hoofed game (especially roe deer and red deer) before, during and after the lynx introduction in the Thuringian Forest.

In the first phase of the study, a suitable study area within the Thuringian Forest was defined in the summer of 2023. A first data set for an estimate of the population density of roe deer and red deer is currently being collected. This first data set will be collected before the first lynxes are released in the spring of 2024. The recordings are then to be repeated in subsequent years.

Possible questions to be addressed in this study:

– Does the density of hoofed game change with increasing lynx population?

– Do we see spatial differences (also with an intersection of telemetry data from lynx)?

– Does the diurnal activity of ungulates shift with increasing lynx colonization?

– What other factors (e.g. changes in forest structure) affect the density of ungulates?

– Is there a change in the hunting range?

Further information and contact details can be found here.