Bobcat Population Dynamics, Distribution,
& Landscapte Genetics


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


Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Status and Background: why are we studying bobcats in Iowa?

bobcatBobcats are now relatively common in the southern third of Iowa but that was not the case just twenty years ago. In fact, although bobcats are common across North America, they were almost completely gone from the Cornbelt of the Midwestern United States because of conversion of the landscape to agriculture and unregulated hunting by early settlers. Worldwide other spotted cats are rare or endangered, so conservation of bobcats is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Although bobcats seem to be expanding their populations, scientific information is still invaluable for conservation and management of populations because bobcats "look like" many of these rare species. Between 2003 and 2010 Iowa State University, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, conducted a study focused on determining how bobcats were becoming more abundant in Iowa. Initially the goal of our project was to determine local home range and habitat selection by bobcats, especially in relation to the configuration of forest, grassland, and agricultural habitats. We also evaluated recruitment and survival and derived rates of population growth that were used to direct harvest management. We then developed methods to efficiently assess statewide distribution and studied the potential for dispersal throughout Iowa. A major emphasis has been on population and landscape genetics, evaluating the genetic similarity of the Iowa population in relation to other bobcat populations in the Midwest. Ultimately this part of the project expanded into an assessment of the genetic structure of bobcats across the nation that will be important to the conservation of this interesting carnivore.

The subsequent parts of this web page highlight the results of the project and provide access to general information and scientific reports. If you don't find the information in which you are interested you can contact Todd Gosselink (phone: 641-203-0006, email: or William Clark (phone: 515-294-5176, email:

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 08/26/2011