Anatolian Lynx Project

Inferences from populations studied elsewhere might prove to be misleading for conservation of locally adapted populations. Our research has proved that Eurasian lynx populations living in Anatolian Turkey display a special foraging ecology, and morphological and behavioural adjustments meeting expectations of a lagomorph specialist meso-carnivore, living at high density and genetically diverse populations. This project aims to form an extensive baseline for conservation of this unique lynx population and create a model for conservation of other carnivore species in Turkey.

Project details
Duration: Since 08/2013
Third-party funded: Yes
Involved Department(s): Dept Evolutionary Genetics, Dept Evolutionary Ecology
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s):
Deniz Mengüllüoglu (Dept Evolutionary Genetics)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team:
Consortium Partner(s): -
Current Funding Organisation:
The Rufford Small Grants and the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks
Research Foci:
Until recently, ecological and genetic information on the Caucasian subspecies of the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx dinniki has been missing, making it hard to set conservation actions for its populations living in Turkey. Having started with camera-trap monitoring in 2009 and employing demographic, genetic and spatial monitoring since 2013, this project aims to reveal the ecology, population genetics and dynamics, and spatial behaviour of a Caucasian lynx population in north-western Anatolia. Contrasting with Eurasian lynx populations in Europe, our research revealed
  • a Eurasian lynx population specialised on lagomorph based foraging ecology,
  • a high density and genetically diverse lynx population,
  • and previously unrecognized spatial tactics of a Eurasian lynx population close to or at carrying capacity.

The Anatolian Lynx Project is aiming to understand the dynamics of this unique lynx population being shaped by intraspecific interactions, lagomorph prey availability, pathogens and human caused habitat fragmentation.

In August-September 2020, the project area has experienced a major forest fire that destroyed a large portion of lynx and wildlife habitat. Hence, the current aim of this project is to quantify the impact of the fire on breeding lynx and wildlife populations through investigating offspring survival and lynx and wildlife activity rates inside and outside fire zones by also making comparisons to previous monitoring years. The project also aims to bring stakeholders from forestry and national parks directorates, academics and locals together and establish a protected forest area to be dedicated for after-fire research (i.e. forest succession and come-back of wild species) and produce media to raise awareness on lynx biology and conservation in Turkey.

Funded by the DAAD, Rufford Small Grants, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, and the IZW Berlin.

Selected Publications

Mengüllüoğlu D, Fickel J, Hofer H, Förster DW (2019): Non-invasive faecal sampling reveals spatial organization and improves measures of genetic diversity for the conservation assessment of territorial species: Caucasian lynx as a case species. PLOS ONE 14, e0216549. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0216549

Mengüllüoğlu D, Ambarlı H, Berger A, Hofer H (2018): Foraging ecology of Eurasian lynx populations in southwest Asia: Conservation implications for a diet-specialist. ECOL EVOL 8, 9451–9463. doi:10.1002/ece3.4439