Problem-solving capabilities as a test of predator adaptability: A comparision of bobcats (Lynx rufus) and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)
AuthorWorsley, Michael Alex
AdvisorCrognale, Michael A.
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Canada lynx (<italic>Lynx canadensis</italic>) and bobcats (<italic>Lynx rufus</italic>) are two closely related felids occurring naturally in North America. Bobcats are generalized hunters across their range while Canada lynx are specialized to hunt lagomorphs, especially snowshoe hare (<italic>Lepus americanus</italic>). Many wildlife professionals anecdotally report vast behavioral differences between these two species, but no empirical juxtaposition of the two has been published. This study proposes a means to provide qualitative and quantitative data regarding the behavior of these two species. Such data may inform important management and care considerations such as enclosure designs, enrichment programs, and husbandry protocols. In this study, we compared performance on a problem-solving task in which subjects must obtain food rewards by avoiding traps designed to catch the food. All subjects showed significant place conditioning and food trap avoidance. Bobcats were more likely to obtain food than Canada lynx and were faster than Canada lynx to enter the testing area, to insert their paw into a selected tube, and to complete the trial. While there are a number of factors that may be involved in these behavioral differences, this study provides both qualitative and quantitative data on these differences, which can influence future research and care of these felids.