Simulated lynx kills in the Bavarian Forest National Park
Understanding the role of scavengers in ecosystems is important for species conservation and wildlife management. We used road–killed animals, 15 in summer 2003 (June–August) and nine in winter 2003/2004 (from November to January), to test the following hypotheses: (1) vertebrate scavengers such as raven (Corvus corax), red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) consume a higher proportion of the carcasses than invertebrates; (2) the consumption rate is higher in winter than in summer due to the scarcity of other food resources; and (3) vertebrate scavengers are effective competitors of Eurasian lynx. We monitored 65 animals belonging to eight different mammal and bird species with camera traps. Surprisingly, Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) was the most important vertebrate scavenger. However, in both seasons, the consumption of vertebrate scavengers was of minor impact. In summer, the carcasses were completely consumed within 10 days, mostly by invertebrates. In winter, only 5% of the carcasses were consumed within 10 days and 16% within 15 days. We conclude that vertebrates in the Bavarian Forest National Park are not strong competitors for lynx.