Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are one of the adaptable felines that are adjusting to human settlements in North America. However in the more urban areas this brings new direct threats such as vehicle collisions and rodenticides, as well as indirect threats through highways creating barriers to dispersal.
Key Facts about Bobcats
~ Variable coloring & size ~
~ All of USA except Delaware ~
~ Highest skins legal fur trade ~
Bobcat (Lynx rufus) Classification
The Bobcat species belongs to the genus Lynx and the full taxonomy or scientific classification is:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)
Species: Lynx rufus (Bobcat)
The scientific name for the Bobcat is Lynx rufus; which is also known as the binomial name, species name, Latin name, biological name or zoological name.
Bobcat (Lynx rufus) Subspecies
Bobcat Lower Classifications
Historically twelve Bobcat subspecies were recognized however the last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017 only recognized two of these, with two subspecies requiring further research.
1. Lynx rufus rufus - East of the Great Plains, North America
includes the previous subspecies: L. r. rufus, L. r. superiorensis, L. r. floridanus, L. r. gigas
2. Lynx rufus fasciatus - West of the Great Plains, North America
includes the previous subspecies L. r. pallescens, L. r. baileyi, L. r. fasciatus, L. r. californicus, L. r. peninsularis, L. r. texensis
Requiring further research are the Mexican subspecies - L. r. esquinapae and L. r. oaxacensis
The global conservation status of the Bobcat is Least Concern (LC) and it is one of the more common and adaptable feline species.
The following organizations are involved in rescue and rehabilitation of Bobcats that have been injured in urban environments, as well as ongoing essential research:
Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!
Bobcat Facts and Information
These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Bobcats:
- Bobcat Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Bobcat Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Bobcat Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Bobcat (Lynx rufus) Research
Here is a list of papers published on Bobcats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.
The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) and the bobcat (Lynx rufus) are closely related species with overlap at their range peripheries, but the factors that limit each species and the interactions between them are not well understood.
Habitat selection is a hierarchical process, in which selection at higher orders (geographic range, home range) may constrain selection at lower orders (within the home range). Habitat selection at a very fine scale within the home range has been less studied for both lynx and bobcat compared to selection at broader spatiotemporal scales.
To compare this fourth-order habitat selection by the two species in an area of sympatry, we tracked lynx and bobcat during the winters of 2017 and 2018 on the north shore of Lake Huron, Ontario.
We found that both lynx and bobcat selected shallower snow, higher snowshoe hare abundance, and higher amounts of coniferous forest at the fourth order. However, the two species were spatially segregated at the second order, and lynx were found in areas with deeper snow, more snowshoe hare, and more coniferous forest.
Taken together, our findings demonstrate that the lynx and bobcat select different resources at the second order, assorting along an environmental gradient in the study area, and that competition is unlikely to be occurring between the two species at finer scales.
Morin, S.J.; Bowman, J.; Marote, R.R.; Fortin, M.
Fine-scale habitat selection by sympatric Canada lynx and bobcat
2020 Ecology and Evolution (10): 9396-9409
Global urbanization is rapidly changing the landscape for wildlife species that must learn to persist in declining wild spacing, adapt, or risk extinction. Many mesopredators have successfully exploited urban niches, and research on these species in an urban setting offers insights into the traits that facilitate their success.
In this study, we examined space use and activity patterns from GPS-collared bobcats (Lynx rufus) in the Dallas-FortWorth metroplex, Texas, USA.
We found that bobcats select for natural/agricultural features, creeks, and water ways and there is greater home-range overlap in these habitats. They avoid roads and are less likely to have home-range overlap in habitats with more roads. Home-range size is relatively small and overlap relatively high, with older animals showing both greater home-range size and overlap. Simultaneous locations suggest bobcats are neither avoiding nor attracted to one another, despite the high overlap across home ranges. Finally, bobcats are active at all times of day and night.
These results suggest that access to natural features and behavioral plasticity may enable bobcats to live in highly developed landscapes.
Young, J.K.; Golla, J.; Draper, J.P.; Broman, D.; Blankenship, T.; Heilbrun, R.
Space Use and Movement of Urban Bobcats
2019 Animals (9): 1-13
Wildlife researchers often rely on demographic data collected from harvested animals to estimate population dynamics. But demographic data from harvested animals may be nonrepresentative if hunters/trappers have the ability and motivation to preferentially select for certain physical traits. Hunter preference is well demonstrated for ungulates, but less so for other wildlife species such as furbearers.
We used data from bobcats harvested in Wisconsin (1983-2014) to determine if harvest method and demographics (mass, male:female sex ratio and age) have changed over time, and if bobcat hunters/trappers exhibited selection.
Each trait of harvested bobcats that we tested changed over time, and because these selected traits were interrelated, we inferred that harvest selection for larger size biased harvests in favour of older, male bobcats. The selection of older, male bobcats appears primarily driven by hound hunters (hereafter hunters) compared to trappers, with hunters more frequently creating taxidermy mounts from their harvested bobcats. We found an increase in the proportion of bobcats that were harvested by hunting compared to trapping over time, and this was associated with increased selectivity and substantial changes in the characteristics of harvested bobcats.
Selection by hunters may bias population models that are based on the demography of harvested bobcats, and accounting for biases that may occur, including from different harvest methods, is critical when using harvest-dependent data.