Spatial Ecology of Bobcats (Lynx rufus) in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Virginia


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Virginia Tech


Despite the prevalent distribution of bobcats in western Virginia and the broader region of Appalachia, there is a paucity of information on their spatial ecology in this region. Due to the unique ecological conditions of Appalachia, and increasing public interest surrounding the role of bobcats as predators in the region, there is a need for local information on bobcat ecology. I utilized data from 20 GPS collared bobcats (14M, 6F) to investigate bobcat spatial ecology in the mountains of Western Virginia. Average resident male home range size was 33.9 ± 2.6 km^2, nearly 3 times larger than average resident female home range size (12.1 ± 2.4 km^2). Seasonal areas of use did not differ in size among seasons, but exhibited minor shifts in location and shape. Average male movement rates (232.3 ± 12.0 meters/hour) were 1.5 times greater than average female movement rates (154.4 ± 8.9 meters/hour). Male movement rates increased during the dispersal season and female movement rates increased during the denning/kitten-rearing season. Second order resource selection analysis indicates that bobcats of both sexes select home ranges at higher elevations than expected at random, and that selection varies between sexes and among seasons. Third order resource selection analysis indicates that bobcats select for locations near open canopy structure, and avoid forest interior. These findings build upon previous findings regarding bobcat diet and population dynamics to provide a comprehensive understanding of basic bobcat ecology in western Virginia, and will inform further research investigating predator/prey interactions.



bobcats, space use, home range, resource selection, movements, Virginia, Appalachian Mountains, GPS telemetry, prescribed fire, timber harvest