Such population sinks may effectively reduce the dispersal rate of lynx and thus the gene flow between neighbouring populations inhabiting different forest patches. Indeed, based on mtDNA haplotype frequencies, it was found that the lynx population from the BPF was significantly divergent from neighbouring populations Ratkiewicz et al.
Estonian Journal of Ecology
Furthermore, it was characterised by a relatively low allelic richness Schmidt et al. Our study suggests that the effect of habitat fragmentation on the lynx population is probably reinforced by higher human-induced mortality in areas between forest patches occupied by lynx. Edge effect related to accidental and deliberate human-induced mortality of carnivores when ranging beyond the protected or core distribution areas was reported also for other species of carnivores such as leopards, lions or badgers Revilla et al.
In contrast to the common assumption about the inverse relationship between the economic development of the country and the effectiveness of nature protection Tisdell , our report presents a case of a possible positive effect of economic growth in decreasing the mortality of a large predator. However, fragmentation of lynx habitat may still be the main factor hampering the population increase and expansion due to strong edge effects in their mortality on limiting dispersal and gene flow amongst populations.
Therefore, this result emphasises the necessity of restoring habitat connectivity by ecological corridors as one of the most important conservation measures for successful protection of this felid. Acknowledgments The study was financed by the Polish Ministry of Sciences grant nos. This work was partly based on published data collected in collaboration with dr W.
Special thanks go to E. Bujko for his help in trapping and radio-tracking lynx. The following students and volunteers also assisted in the study: T. Podgorski, A.
Gulczynska, L. Sonnichsen, E. Schutz, M. Adams, M. Kruit, C. Conti, A. Nuno, A. Nees, B. Cristescu and P.
Predation in Vertebrate Communities
Permission for lynx trapping was issued by the Ministry of Environment. Trapping, handling and radio-tracking procedures were approved by the Polish Ethical Commission for Research on Animals. We are grateful to Ms. Elizabeth Finch for correcting the English of this manuscript. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author s and the source are credited. Biol Conserv Anim Conserv The Bialowieza Primeval Forest as a case study.
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