We investigated seasonal patterns in resource selection of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in the northern Rockies (western MT, USA) from 1998 to 2002 based on backtracking in winter (577 km; 10 M, 7 F) and radiotelemetry (630 locations; 16 M, 11 F) in summer. During winter, lynx preferentially foraged in mature, multilayer forests with Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) in the overstory and midstory. Forests used during winter were composed of larger diameter trees with higher horizontal cover, more abundant snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), and deeper snow compared to random availability; multilayer, spruce–fir forests provided high horizontal cover with tree branching that touched the snow surface. During winter, lynx killed prey at sites with higher horizontal cover than that along foraging paths. Lynx were insensitive to snow depth or penetrability in determining where they killed prey. During summer, lynx broadened their resource use to select younger forests with high horizontal cover, abundant total shrubs, abundant small-diameter trees, and dense saplings, especially spruce–fir saplings. Based on multivariate logistic-regression models, resource selection occurred primarily at a fine spatial scale as was consistent with a sight-hunting predator in dense forests. However, univariate comparisons of patch-level metrics indicated that lynx selected homogenous spruce–fir patches, and avoided recent clear-cuts or other open patches. Given that lynx in Montana exhibit seasonal differences in resource selection, we encourage managers to maintain habitat mosaics. Because winter habitat may be most limiting for lynx, these mosaics should include abundant multistory, mature spruce–fir forests with high horizontal cover that are spatially well-distributed.
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Vol. 74 • No. 8