Modelling genetic processes to support the conservation management of Eurasian lynx

The genetic variability of the reintroduced populations of large carnivores such as Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) has been called into question due to the weak genetic exchange. We are developing an existing population model to include individual genetics for testing conservation management scenarios in order to reveal the potential for enhancing the genetic variability of a Central European meta-population. 

Project details
Duration: 03/2018 - 03/2021
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Department(s): Dept Ecological Dynamics, Dept Evolutionary Genetics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s):
Leibniz-IZW Project Team:
Joe Premier (Department of Ecological Dynamics/Dept Evolutionary Genetics)
Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (Department of Ecological Dynamics)
Jörns Fickel (Dept Evolutionary Genetics)
Consortium Partner(s):
University of Fribourg
Current Funding Organisation: Deutsche Bundesstiftung für Umwelt
Research Foci: -
Felid species such as Eurasian lynx are of high conservation concern. In Central Europe small isolated populations are genetically impoverished and at risk of extinction due to demographic stochasticity.
Managers require information to help make informed decisions regarding conservation actions that strive for the genetic recovery of these populations, a subject currently of high interest. That's why we wll develope a spatially explicit individual-based population model which includes neutral genetic markers (i.e. demogenetic model) for felids, to help understand the genetic processes in small populations od Eurasian lynx under various management scenarios.
Initially, as proof of concept, we used the demogenetic model to study the possible trade-offs for population genetic diversity, due to movement characteristics. The next step is to simulate management scenarios including population reintroductions, population reinforcements, translocations, and non-interference under a variety of conditions (such as genetic diversity of released individuals) for various small populations of Eurasian lynx found in Central Europe. By inverse fitting we can infer likely reintroduction conditions, and using contemporary conditions to forward simulate and deliver prognoses under the management scenarios in question.

Selected Publications

Premier J, Fickel J, Heurich M, Kramer Schadt S (2020): The boon and bane of boldness: movement syndrome as saviour and sink for population genetic diversity. MOV ECOL 8, 16.