Assessing the Status of a Reintroduced Lynx Population in the Palatinate Forest

Jim Crocker
16th May, 2024

Assessing the Status of a Reintroduced Lynx Population in the Palatinate Forest

Image Source: Gabriele Brancati (photographer)

Key Findings

  • The study focused on reintroducing 20 Eurasian lynx to the Palatinate Forest in Germany from 2016 to 2020
  • By 2021, the lynx population density in the Palatinate Forest was 0.52 individuals per 100 km², lower than other reintroduced populations
  • The decline in lynx numbers is partly due to some individuals dispersing to the Vosges in France, indicating potential for population expansion
The conservation of Eurasian lynx populations in central Europe has seen a significant step forward with a recent study conducted by researchers from the Georg-August-University Göttingen[1]. This study focuses on the reintroduction of 20 lynx from Slovakia and Switzerland to the Palatinate Forest between 2016 and 2020. Using a systematic camera trapping array, the researchers aimed to describe the status of this newly established population and provide an estimate of population density. In the winters and springs of 2019/20 and 2020/21, the study utilized 80 camera trapping sites across a 1,000 km² area within the Palatinate Forest. The findings revealed a population density of 0.52 independent individuals per 100 km², which is significantly lower compared to well-established reintroduced populations. The number of independent lynx detected decreased from 15 individuals in 2019/20 to 11 in 2020/21, indicating a decline from the initial number of translocated lynx. The low abundance in the Palatinate Forest is attributed to the dispersal of several individuals to the Vosges in France, which, together with the Palatinate Forest, forms a continuous suitable habitat of approximately 8,000 km². This suggests that the observed population density may reflect the early stages of a population that has the potential to expand over a larger area. The study's findings are consistent with previous research on lynx populations. For instance, a study on the Czech-Slovak-Polish borderland using camera-trapping and spatial capture-recapture models revealed fluctuating densities and high individual turnover rates in lynx populations[2]. These factors, including human-induced mortalities such as poaching and vehicle collisions, were found to restrict population growth and limit dispersion. The current study in the Palatinate Forest underscores the importance of long-term monitoring to understand population trends and ensure the success of reintroduction efforts. Moreover, the study aligns with broader conservation efforts for large carnivores in Europe. Protective legislation, supportive public opinion, and practices facilitating coexistence between large carnivores and humans have been key to the conservation success of species like brown bears, Eurasian lynx, gray wolves, and wolverines in Europe[3]. The Palatinate Forest reintroduction project exemplifies these efforts by attempting to restore a viable lynx population in a region where they had previously been extirpated. To enhance the effectiveness of these reintroduction efforts, the study recommends synchronized and harmonized transboundary monitoring programs to track the development of the Franco-German lynx population. Given the low population density observed, supportive measures, such as additional translocations or habitat improvements, may be necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the population. In summary, the research conducted by the Georg-August-University Göttingen provides valuable insights into the status of the newly reintroduced Eurasian lynx population in the Palatinate Forest. By integrating systematic camera trapping and thorough population monitoring, the study highlights the challenges and potential of reintroduction projects. These findings contribute to the broader understanding of lynx conservation and underscore the need for continued efforts to support and monitor these populations.

WildlifeEcologyAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Status assessment of a recently reintroduced eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) population in the Palatinate Forest, South-West Germany

Published 15th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Multi-seasonal systematic camera-trapping reveals fluctuating densities and high turnover rates of Carpathian lynx on the western edge of its native range.

3) Recovery of large carnivores in Europe's modern human-dominated landscapes.

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