Talk Restoring a viable population of lynx in the French Vosges Mountains: insights from a spatially explicit individualbased model

Habitat destruction and fragmentation are important threats to large carnivores as they are wide-ranging species and live in human-dominated landscapes. The road network is getting denser and acts as a barrier for these species as well as it increases the risk of collisions with vehicles. The creation of corridors is often advocated in these situations as a way to restore connectivity. Because of increasing conflicts with humans, large carnivores are also particularly vulnerable to poaching resulting in small and isolated populations. Reintroductions are often used as a reinforcement strategy in such situations. Here we compared these two conservation strategies, reintroduction and corridor settlement, in order to determine the optimal solution to halt the decline of the Eurasian lynx population in the Vosges Mountains (France). We developed Spatially Explicit Population Viability Analyses (SEPVA) to evaluate the efficiency of alternative conservation strategies. The SEPVA is particularly relevant in the context of species viability in fragmented landscapes as it combines a population dynamics model and a habitat model through explicit dispersal. We explored the efficiency of i) different reintroduction scenarios in the German Palatinate that is in continuity with the Vosges (a reintroduction is ongoing) and ii) a scenario involving a corridor between the stable lynx population in the Jura Mountains, shared between France and Switzerland, and the declining population of the Vosges Mountains. We found that performing reintroductions performed better than building corridors, and reduced significantly the extinction risk. Further work will focus on refining the corridor strategies. Overall, our approach has the potential to provide an efficient and relevant tool for setting up a management plan for the species.

carnivores, conservation, corridor, demography, dispersal, GIS, Jura Mountains, landscape, Lynx lynx, Palatinate, reintroduction, spatially explicit population viability analysis, traffic, Vosges Mountains