The Jeuns

Canada lynx may thrive better in the United States, suggests unique historical study

April 1, 2024 | by The Jeuns

A recent study has suggested that the Canada lynx may have a better chance of thriving in the United States in the future, as compared to its current habitat. The assessment conducted by Washington State University revealed that the elusive cat historically had a more suitable habitat in regions such as the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, and New England.

According to the study, the lynx may have a better chance of survival in the future in parts of Utah and the Yellowstone National Park regions of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, despite the current minimal lynx population in those areas. Understanding a species’ historical range is crucial for conservation efforts to avoid a phenomenon known as “shifting baseline syndrome,” where people’s perception of what is considered a “normal” habitat for a species changes over time.

Lead author Dan Thornton, an associate professor at Washington State University, emphasized the importance of knowing a species’ historic distribution for effective conservation strategies. The study utilized a model that considered factors such as temperature, precipitation, and land use, dating back to 1900. By projecting potential habitats for the lynx up to 2070, the researchers also factored in the impact of climate change on the species’ habitat.

The study, backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is expected to have broader implications for conservation efforts beyond just the Canada lynx. The research team collaborated with Trent University in Canada to validate their model using data from museums, game hunters, and trappers, with hopes that the findings will help guide future conservation initiatives.

While the study lays the groundwork for understanding the historic range of the Canada lynx, further research is needed to determine whether the identified areas can support a viable lynx population in the future. The authors of the study anticipate that their approach could provide valuable insights for conservation efforts and help protect the species for generations to come.

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