Bobcat Population Dynamics, Distribution,
& Landscapte Genetics


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


Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Habitat Use & Social Structure
Social Structure and Behavior:

Similar to most cat species, bobcats are solitary, except when females are with kittens. From our radio-tracking data we calculated that home ranges of resident males averaged 22 square miles throughout the year. Home ranges of resident females averaged about 7 square miles during summer when they had kittens but increased to 9 square miles in the winter after kittens became more independent. Male bobcat home ranges often overlapped with as many as 2-3 female home ranges but females do not overlap with other females. (figure to left—notice that home ranges are irregularly shaped and often include small adjacent areas where the bobcats explore) Our telemetry showed that bobcats are primarily nocturnal and their activity peaks around sunrise and sunset when they hunt by means of stalking and ambushing prey along habitat edges. To mark their home ranges bobcats will have numerous scent posts located along travel routes throughout the home range.

Habitat Use:

BobcatThe radio-tracking data showed that bobcats used forested habitat most often, although their home ranges encompassed all the other habitats in southern Iowa, including pastures and CRP grasslands.Radioed bobcats were rarely located in row crop fields although they must have crossed them frequently. A typical home range consisted of multiple patches of forest where the largest forest patch comprised about 8% of the home range. Forest patches were surrounded by grasslands and the largest row crop patch comprised less than 3% of the home range. Although home ranges were not necessarily shaped by stream corridors, the areasused contained significant amounts of streams. In the core area where thebobcats spent about 50% of their time forest comprised about 20% and grasslands, including CRP comprisedanadditional 40% .Forest andgrassland patches can be widely scattered in southern Iowa andthe more fragmented these patchesare the larger the area of the home range. Females with kittens often were found associated with large brush piles so that they could escape disturbance, particularly from coyotes. It alsoappeared that female home ranges were not packed as densely as they could be, which is consistent with the analyses that suggest that the population is still growing.

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