Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Mary M. Conner


Mary M. Conner


Julie K. Young


Kimberly Sullivan


Monitoring the spatial ecology and population densities of carnivores is critical for effective management and conservation of these populations and the ecosystems in which they exist. However, effective monitoring of carnivore populations through estimates of space use, habitat selection and densities can be difficult due to their relatively low densities and wide ranging, elusive behaviors. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are medium sized, top-level predators which are widely distributed across North America. Quantifying space use, habitat selection and developing effective population monitoring strategies for this species will have important implications for wildlife management.

My first objective was to use telemetry data to evaluate space use parameters such as home range and core area estimates, seasonal movement patters and relative habitat selection of bobcats on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, USA. Using GPS collars, I collected data on 38 bobcats (male n = 25, female n = 13) from 2015-2018. Using kernel density home range analysis, I was successfully able to estimate home range and core area sizes for male and female bobcats and examine differences in size between sexes and between seasons. Furthermore, I developed resource selection functions (RSF) to explore relative habitat selection of male and female bobcats in the study area.

My second objective was to evaluate accurate, non-invasive monitoring strategies for bobcats. Using camera trap data, I compared closed capture mark-recapture (CMR) and spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) methods for estimating densities of bobcats. Data was collected over a 6-week survey period in April-May of 2018. The different methods yielded very different estimates of density and spatial scale parameters. These differences likely stem from a low positive identification rate of bobcats based on pelage patterns. My findings suggest that in sparsely vegetated, open, homogenous desert ecosystems that photographic mark recapture may not be appropriate due to low identification rate of individuals.

To my knowledge, my study provides the first evaluation of space use and habitat selection by bobcats on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Furthermore, very little research has been conducted evaluating bobcat density and monitoring strategies in this area. The findings from this study will facilitate management and monitoring of bobcats in the eastern Sierra Nevada as well as providing important insights into the spatial ecology of bobcats in this area.