Quirks & Quarks

Purring, fighting, chaos and crunching bones: these are the sounds of the Canada lynx

By attaching audio recorders to a top predator in the boreal forest, researchers were able to eavesdrop on Canada lynx as they slept, fought, and went on the hunt.

Researchers captured over 14,000 hours of audio from Canada lynx

Canada lynx are among the top predators in the boreal forest, and are notoriously difficult to study because of their large range and elusive nature. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

By attaching audio recorders to Canada lynx, researchers have come up with a new way to monitor these elusive predators.

Canada lynx are notoriously hard to track, which makes it incredibly challenging for the researchers who study them. 

"I spent three years in the field specifically tracking them, and rarely ever saw them," said Emily Studd, a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Alberta.

You just hear chaos. And then... you hear what you think is bones cracking.- Emily Studd, University of Alberta

To get a better understanding of the animals' hunting behaviours, Studd and her colleagues spent five years on a project that involved attaching audio recorders, as well as accelerometers, to the animals. In total they deployed 39 collars on 26 lynx, ultimately collecting over 14,470 hours worth of data.

Biologist Emily Studd with a snowshoe hare. These animals, as well as red squirrels, are the prey of choice for Canada lynx in the boreal forest. (Laurence Carter/Emily Studd)

Studd says that while much of the audio is just the sound of cats sleeping, they also were able to successfully capture a wide range of hunting behaviours.

"The first time going through the audio files... you just hear chaos. And then click a little bit further along and you hear what you think is bones cracking," said Studd.  

The team also captured audio of the animals cleaning themselves, fighting, bonding, and even whining when they lost a meal.

"This has provided us with a huge amount of data that we wouldn't get any other way, specifically on how often are lynx chasing, how often are they successful and what are they killing? And when?" said Studd.

The research was published in the journal British Ecological Society.

You can listen to the interview with Emily Studd and the sounds of the Canada lynx at the link above.


Produced and written by Amanda Buckiewicz

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