Habitat Use of Bobcats at Two Spatial Scales in Southwestern Georgia

Habitat needs of wildlife are important for science-based wildlife management. Further, these needs may differ based upon the ecosystem in which the species lives. Bobcat habitat use within the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forest ecosystem has received little attention. Therefore, we monitored 21 bobcats (Lynx rufus) (8 M, 13 F) during 2001-2002 in southwestern Georgia to determine habitat use at two different spatial scales: (1) habitat associated with each animal's locations relative to habitat composition of its home range and (2) habitat composition of each bobcat's home range relative to habitat composition of the study area. Seasonal habitat selection did not differ between sexes. At the smaller spatial scale, bobcats preferred (i.e., use $ availability) food plots within their home range during fall, winter, and spring, though they preferred hardwood areas within their home range during summer. At the larger spatial scale, there was a greater proportion of mixed pine/hardwood habitat within bobcat home ranges than was available on the study site. On our study area, this habitat may serve to connect hunting areas and refugia. Prey rich areas are important to bobcats, but areas that provide refugia (e.g., hardwoods) are also important.

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