Bobcat Population Dynamics, Distribution,
& Landscapte Genetics


William R. Clark, Ph.D. & Todd Gosselink, Ph.D.


Iowa Department of Natural Resources



We collected data from many sources in order to meet our objectives: (1) live-captured bobcats that are radio-collared and released back at the site where they were captured (image to left – Steph Tucker, M.S. student, checks the radio-collar on a bobcat), (2) carcasses of dead bobcats that are the result of automobile collisions, incidental trapping, and legal harvest , (3) reports of bobcat sightings from bow hunters and the general public, and (4) tissue samples collected by scientists in surrounding states. Cooperation from trappers (image to right) has been especially important to our project because they have reported incidental captures to us and then we proceeded immediately to the area, briefly anesthetized the bobcat, fitted it with a with a either a “standard” VHF radio-collar or a GPS satellite collar, and released it at the point of capture.

Between 2003 and 2009, we marked and tracked over 150 bobcats in an eight county area in south central Iowa. Collectively, we relocated these bobcats over 25,000 times. Most of the time bobcats were tracked using the familiar vehicle-mounted antennas. Sometimes bobcats dispersed long distances and then we had to relocate them from an airplane (image to right).We located each animal 1-2 times per week and also selected certain animals to relocate every half hour in order to determine fine scale movements or to followthem across the landscape when the dispersed. In addition to the live-captured bobcats, we have collected thousands of carcasses from many counties in Iowa (map below includes just those incidentally trapped and given to the DNR). Carcasses are examined (image to left -  volunteers help the crew necropsy bobcats) to determine pregnancy rates, litter sizes, dietary preference, and age (from sectioning the teeth), and to collect tissue for genetic analyses. Pelts and skulls are salvaged and distributed to county conservation nature centers and museums for educational purposes. During the study we sampled DNA from over 1100 bobcats in Iowa, about 1500 more samples from the Midwest region ranging from North Dakota to Indiana and on top of those an additional 1800 from the rest of the United States. (image to right—Dawn Reding, Ph.D. student, instructs undergraduate Hana Yoon on examining a DNA gel)

Map of Iowa highlighting counties where bobcat carcasses have been collected from 2001-2009. Click for a larger view

Background | Methods | Description, Tracks, & Food Habits | Habitat Use & Social Structure | Reproduction, Survival, & Dispersal | Statewide Distribution | Population Genetics | Outreach, Collaborators, & Funding |
Report | Bobcat Homepage | Dr. Clark Homepage

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Updated 08/29/2011