Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Talent Expansion Program
The Next STEP
Home Range Size of the Bobcat (Lynx rufus) in Missouri

Project Description

The bobcat Lynx rufus was once widespread across Missouri and the Midwest, but in the middle part of the last century the species was extirpated from the region due to over-hunting and habitat loss. Fortunately, recent efforts to conserve habitat and legislation to prevent harvest of pelts has seen the return of the bobcat to northeast Missouri, but the vast majority of these reports are anecdotal in nature. There has been no formal study to document the presence of the bobcat in the region since the 1980's, and in that survey only four counties (Knox, Macon, Marion, and Ralls) were confirmed to have resident populations of bobcats.

Thanks to the support of Truman State University and the Truman STEP program, the presence of bobcats in northeast Missouri was confirmed in 2005. Five bobcats were captured, anaesthetized, fitted with radio collars, and released. Collared individuals were monitored via radio telemetry on a regular basis, and by using standard triangulation methodology multiple “locations” were used to estimate home range size for each individual animal. In addition to acquiring home range estimates, extensive habitat data were also collected from a subset of the triangulated locations. Such data will serve to identify preferred "microhabitat" preferences for bobcats in the region. For the summer of 2006, this work will continue to obtain substantially more microhabitat data and to continue to monitor the collared bobcats.

Background Needed

Students should have a strong interest in working with wild animals. Experience with live trapping carnivores and radio telemetry is preferred, but not required. Although university vehicles may be available, it would be best if the students could provide their own transportation. All students must have completed both introductory biology courses; additional coursework such as Mammalogy and/or significant field experience would be beneficial.

Faculty Mentors

Back to top