New Thesis Shows Wolverine Is Dependent on Lynx for Reindeer Carcasses

The wolverine is dependent on the lynx for reindeer carcasses

Photo: Swedish televisionWolverines are dependent on the reindeer carcasses lynxes leave behind. This has been shown in a fresh doctoral thesis.

Although, wolverines and lynxes live side by side in the reindeer herding region, competition between the species seems non-existent.

On the contrary, the wolverine seems to benefit by living so closely to the lynx because they can live off the reindeer carcasses left by the lynx, according to a doctoral thesis by Jenny Mattisson, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU.

The wolverine and lynx live in symbiosis in the reindeer herding region and prefer the same type of terrain – namely steep, hilly, mountain birch forests.

Both predators feed on reindeer and in 2009, the Sámi Parliament paid close to SEK 21 million in compensation to the reindeer industry for damages caused by the wolverine and more than SEK 33 million for the lynx.

But there is a big difference between these two predators – the lynx kills reindeer itself while the wolverine mostly feeds off the carcasses of reindeer killed by the lynx.

By following a number of lynxes and wolverines with GPS transmitters, the researchers have been able to determine that the wolverines in the pertinent area had only killed 13 percent of the reindeer during the years of the study.

Sixty-nine percent had been killed by lynxes and the rest had died in other ways.

Wolverines make use of the carcasses left by lynxes while they are in their daytime lairs and wolverines can quickly strip a carcass and hide chunks of the meat.

“But it doesn’t seem as if the wolverine chases away the lynx from the spoils,” says Jenny Mattisson. “Instead wolverines seem to take advantage of the opportunity to move in on the carcasses while the lynxes are resting a short distance away.”

This entails that the lynx hunts reindeer more intensively, but despite this there is no evidence that points to the lynx, with its physical superiority, killing or chasing away wolverines.

Of 55 known deaths of wolverines, the researchers have been unable to verify a single lynx kill.

Despite the wolverine being primarily a carrion feeder, it can nonetheless kill a full-grown reindeer.

But access to carcasses can still be decisive for wolverines’ reproductive ability – if the number of lynxes decreases, the wolverine pack is consequently affected

This is why Jenny Mattisson feels that this must be taken into consideration when the authorities make decisions about future predator management.

Radio Sweden

For more news from Sweden visit Radio Sweden.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *