Suitability of GPS telemetry for studying the predation of Eurasian lynx on small- and medium-sized prey animals in the Northwestern Swiss Alps

  • Kristina VogtEmail author
  • Eric Vimercati
  • Andreas Ryser
  • Elizabeth Hofer
  • Sven Signer
  • Claudio Signer
  • Urs Breitenmoser
Original Article


Predator diet composition and kill rates have to be known in order to quantify predation pressure on prey populations. While ground-truthing of GPS location clusters (GLCs) is a reliable method for finding large- and medium-sized prey items, finding the remains of small prey is still considered a major difficulty. In this study, we searched GLCs of Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx in the Northwestern Swiss Alps in order to determine if GLC analysis is a suitable method for detecting kill sites of new-born ungulates and other small prey animals. Juvenile ungulates made up 26% of the prey spectrum and 17% total consumed biomass (TCB), while hares, marmots, and red foxes accounted for 25% of all found prey items (8% TCB). Lynx spent significantly more time in GLCs containing large prey, but no clear transition in GLC duration for distinguishing between large (≥ 10 kg; mean duration = 46.9 h, SD = 30.1 h) and small prey (< 10 kg; mean duration = 26.7 h, SD = 21.1 h) could be defined. We explored the influence of different cut-off values for GLC duration on lynx diet composition. GLCs with a duration of < 9 h had less than 25% detection success, but still contained 13% of all small prey items. We conclude that GLC analysis is a promising tool for exploring predation on new-born ungulates, mesopredators, and other smaller prey animals weighing between 2 and 10 kg. However, substantial field effort is mandatory to sufficiently detect prey remains in short-lasting GLCs.


GPS telemetry Lynx lynx Predation Juvenile ungulates GPS location clusters 



We thank the Federal Office of Environment and the hunting administration of the Canton of Bern for the permits to capture and tag lynx in our study area. Special thanks go to the game wardens of the Canton of Bern for their essential help with capturing and monitoring of lynx. We further thank the following wildlife veterinarians of the FIWI Bern for their participation in lynx captures: Marie-Pierre Ryser-Degiorgis, Mirjam Pewsner, and Roman Meier. We also thank Nicolas Beerli, Oliver Deck, Susana Freire, Mélissa Lenarth, and Aljoscha Schuster for their help with searching kills and we are grateful to Nathan Svoboda and Tyler Petroelje for sharing their R-script for cluster analysis and to Dominik Vogt for help with calculation of GLC excursion durations.

Funding information

We thank the following foundations and funding bodies for their support of this study: Zürcher Tierschutz, Stotzer-Kästli Foundation, Ormella Foundation, Haldimann Foundation, University of Zurich, Temperatio Foundation, Karl Mayer Foundation, Berthold Suhner Foundation, Janggen-Pöhn Foundation, FAG Basel, Basler Stiftung für Biologische Forschung.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

10344_2018_1225_MOESM1_ESM.docx (70 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 70 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristina Vogt
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Eric Vimercati
    • 1
    • 3
  • Andreas Ryser
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Hofer
    • 1
  • Sven Signer
    • 1
  • Claudio Signer
    • 3
  • Urs Breitenmoser
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.KORA, Carnivore Ecology and Wildlife ManagementMuri b. BernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, Zoology and EvolutionUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Research Group Wildlife Management, Institute of Natural Resource SciencesZurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAWWinterthurSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute of Veterinary VirologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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