Genetic reinforcement

    in the Doñana-Aljarafe population 


The lynx LIFE project has produced three genetic reinforcement maneuvers have involved four Iberian lynx from Sierra Morena. Thus, between 2006 and 2011 have been released three males and one female in the population of Doñana-Aljarafe, all within the Doñana National Park (being the area with greater protection degree in the entire population). The handlings have taken place as follows: 


Genetic reinforcement in Doñana-Aljarafe in 2007

In December 2007, the first movement of an Iberian lynx between Sierra Morena and Doñana took place. Given the lack of adult males in Coto del Rey area (as a result of the devastating impact of the epidemic of feline leukemia virus, which occurred in 2007), it was decided to proceed with the release of a male in Sierra Morena in the southern part of this nucleus, within the National Park of Doñana. The selected lynx was Baya, male born in 2005 in the Yeguas Valley. He is a descendant of the female Orchys, who lives northeast of the Yeguas nucleus, in the province of Jaén. In dispersion, in October 2007, Baya went into the territory of an adult male on the right bank of the river Yeguas. Given that it had been decided to draw a male of that very age for the reinforcement, it was decided to capture Baya, since he was a non-territorial individual. Plus he was in danger by enter the territory of an adult male.


The first genetic reinforcement in Doñana-Aljarafe was planned in southern Vera, in the Doñana National Park, within the Reserva Biológica. This location was chosen for its high level of protection and because it was a place where managed to increase rabbit populations with the actions of LIFE 02-06. But the course of events in 2007 changed the focus of this first operation. First, the area provided for carrying the reinforcement out was occupied by a couple of native lynxes (Clavo and Bonares). Second, the epidemic of feline leukemia virus that attacked the nucleus of Coto del Rey in 2007 left this core with 5 females and no males for the 2007-2008 season. In this scenario, it was decided to change the location of first strengthening to Coto del Rey. In this way, a 2 ha soft-release enclosure was built in just over a month in the southern part of the nucleus. This area was chosen because it had three breeding females (compared to two in northern Coto del Rey) and a higher degree of protection (the fence is located within the National Park).

Baya was released in the soft release enclosure Coto del Rey south on 21-12-2007. That very night he found contacted through the mesh with Wari, resident female in Coto del Rey. Baya contacted the following days through the mesh with the three female residents in the area. The evolution of the interaction was very positive, deciding their final release on 01-01-2008. The decision to release was adopted by both the positive interactions and that a female had spent more than 24 hours near the fence.




Videos showing Baya following Wari a few days after being released in Coto del Rey



Once released, Baya was followed by intensive radio-tracking and photo-trapping. The male was settled in the area of ??release and was observed with two of the three female residents. Actually, in March it was found that Baya had mated with all three, since they all gave birth (Wari four cubs, Viciosa three and Rayuela one). Even so, only Viciosa managed to successfully breed her cubs this year, and by December they three (Esencia, Epsilon and Estepa) had dispersed. During 2009, they three were followed by photo-trapping and radio-tracking in their settlement areas. Thanks to this reinforcement, the breeding season of three females could be saved, although the two resident females of northern Coto del Rey were without breeding this year. In 2009, a new male settled in Coto del Rey South (Dardo, from northern Coto del Rey and born in 2007) in the territory of Wari, as Baya was mated with only two females that year: Rayuela and Cantaurea (Viciosa had been displaced from the area the previous year). They took out two cubs each (Fenda and Faginea, Rayuela and Fronde and Forestal, Centaurea). Between November 2009 and February 2010 Centaurea, Estepa and Epsilon were lost from the population. In the 2010 season, Baya has reproduced with the only female left in its territory: Rayuela. However, the female lost the cubs before they leave the dens. Dardo and Wari raised three cubs that year. In the 2011 breeding season, Baya has reproduced with Rayuela, raising three cubs. Moreover, four more mixed F2 litters were detected in 2011, since Fronde, Esencia (with two females) and Fenda have reproduced successfully, raising 16 mixed cubs in 2011.



Abstract-table of the descendants of Baya detected by means of photo-trapping between 2008 and 2010:


Male Female Offspring Year Recruitment Death
Baya Viciosa Esencia 2008 2010 -
Estepa 2008 -  01/02/2010
Épsilon 2008 - 06/12/2009
Baya Centaurea Fronde 2009  2011 -
 Forestal 2009    -
Baya Rayuela Fenda 2009  2011  -
Faginea 2009    -
Esencia Alcornoque Gallego 2010    -
Gallareta 2010    -
 Gelo 2010  - 31/07/2011
 Guadiamar 2010  - 16/10/2011
Baya Rayuela Hado 2011    
Habichuela 2011    
Heleboro 2011    
Fronde Erodia Higarrillo 2011    
 Hiena 2011    
 Happy 2011    
Esencia Alcornoque  Hongo 2011    
 Hispana 2011    
 Horquilla 2011    
 Huerto 2011    
Esencia Duquesa  Hato 2011    
 Hélice 2011    
Eider II Fenda  Hilos 2011    
 Hermosa 2011    
Hurgue 2011    
 Hiper 2011    


+ More about the genetic reinforcement in 2007




Genetic reinforcement in Doñana-Aljarafe in 2008


Due to the success of the first operation, it was decided to release an adult male again in 2008. The site selected for management was the area of ??the Laguna de Santa Olalla, in the Doñana Biological Reserve. This was the site considered at the start of the project, and was revived as a result of the death of Clavo in April 2008,  territorial male in the area. Thus, in the autumn of 2008 the territory of Santa Olalla only hosted the female Bonares, and occasionally the male Boliche was entering.
On this occasion a male born in 2006 and called Caribú was selected, which came from the valley of the Jándula River. He was son of the female Miranda and brother of Caberú (male handled in the reintroduction into Guadalmellato). Caribú was chosen because he was a male of the selected cohort who had no territory, since he was regularly photographed in 2008with the territorial male Cerrajero. Thus, Caribú was taken in October at the enclosures of the Acebuche, where he spent the period of quarantine and timely verification that the individual was not infected with the parasite Cytauxzoon. On 25-11-2008, Caribú was released in the 8 ha soft-release enclosure of Santa Olalla, where he remained until the doors opened on December 30. At that time Caribú interacted through the mesh with Bonares and Boliche, who gained entry by climbing on the fence twice. The final decision was released, like last year when they were male-female interactions across mesh and the female remained in the area of ??the enclosure more de24 hours.



Interaction between Caribú and Bonares a few days after the release


But Caribú soon showed that his case would not be equal to that of Baya. The first ten days he remained in the release area??, taking occasional encounters with Bonares (which were never the typical male-female interactions of heat), but from then on, he began to disperse in a northerly direction, reaching the Sierra de Aracena. Although he crossed lynx areas of Doñana-Aljarafe, some with abundant rabbit population, Caribú was never intended to stay in the area over 5 days. By radio-tracking requirements, Caribú had to catch twice in the Sierra de Aracena. The first was on 20-04-2009, to equip with a GPS-GSM collar, and the second on 04-02-2010, to change its first GPS-GSM collar that had lost all power. On both occasions the issue was released again in Doñana and both went back up to the Sierra de Aracena. They regularly undertook exploratory radial movements, some of which took him to Portugal and Badajoz. In early September 2010 a movement was detected south back to Doñana, but the day was found dead September 18 in Lucena del Puerto. The death was caused by infection with Leptospira interrogans. Therefore, the Caribú management did not become successful in the flow of genes in the population
The three trips of Caribú: the first one in yellow, the second one in orange and the third one in red

Genetic reinforcement in Doñana-Aljarafe in 2010


On November 25, 2010 the third operation to include individuals from Sierra Morena to Doñana-Aljarafe began. The goal of the management is to increase the genetic diversity of the reciever population, which is only achieved through the genetic flow across generations. This time two individuals were moved: "Floreal" and "Elder", male and female born in 2009 and 2008 respectively. The decision on age and sex was provided by the composition and ages of members of the core lynx receiver. 


The chosen site was La Dehesa, at the heart of Coto del Rey population within Doñana National Park. This core has traditionally been composed of three territorial males. At the time of genetic reinforcement only two stable territories were left), so Floreal could be accommodated in this area. On the other hand, Wari, territorial female born in 2001, was on the edge of the breeding age, so it could be replaced by the newcomer female. But these are only estimates of fitness, and interventions as "surgical" the character of each lynx plays an absolutely crucial role.

The selected soft-release enclosure was the same used with Baya in 2007.




Decissions about the permanence in the enclosure


The most optimistic forecast was that Eider Floreal and copulate in the enclosure, a fact that will undoubtedly facilitate the establishment of lynx in the area, as occurred in 2009, management performed in Guadalmellato. This event schedule would guide the whole process back. But every individual who has managed in the translocations and reintroductions has developed a different behavior. This inability to detect a pattern of behavior is due mainly to the low number of experiences that have this type of management.

Since Floreal arrived, he tried to leave the fence by climbing the mesh. This behavior was novel, since neither "Baya", or "Caribú" showed it. However, in other releases, territorial lynx did try to enter the enclosure, and on occasion did so by avoiding or withstanding the shock of the five existing electric fence lines and exceeding 3.85 m in height is the fence.

On December 3 (8th day of driving) was detected first visit, Wari accompanied by three young lynx born in the spring of 2010. The same day, Sting, father of the litter and male ruler of the area, she visited the area.



Wari with her three cubs in the reinforcement area and Dardo unsuccessfully trying to get into the soft-release enclosure


The behavior of lynx within the enclosure was normal. Floreal for hours patrolling the perimeter of the enclosure and the interior, being seen making sets of hunting wild rabbits entering the enclosed supplementary feeding (CAS), quiet and always very attentive to any noise or movement detected around it. Eider, however, made fewer movements remained inactive long periods, sometimes just patrolling the perimeter fencing and also used the CAS. It was noted that each individual used more frequently than one half of the facilities, although they were found walking together on occasion. There were no negative interactions between them or extremely positive: they were lenient with his counterpart.

Floreal made attempts to leave the enclosure, but the 3 lines of electric fence running through the fence on the inside prevented during various attempts to get out on their own. But the morning of December 5 Floreal climbed the fence and ended with the adaptation process for a possible fault in the electrical system caused by powerful thunderstorms these days or simply because they made the decision to go forward instead of back when touched the electric fence. This was the tenth day of operation and since then grazes freely through the environment.


For its part, Eider continued to adapt inside the fence. Was visited daily by Sting, who stood for hours along the fence sitting, or go on its outer perimeter. In many cases interactions were observed through the mesh between Eider and Sting. While some were permissive attitude of the female indicated that the huge interest was not reciprocated Dardo (video and photos). For 9 days straight, Dardo spent much of the day and night, around the fence, trying to get into it sometimes. Monitoring cameras located at the perimeter could register one of these attempts, frustrated, exterior visor placed as reinforcement prevented the entry (photos). 





 Some interactions between Dardo and Eider


The decision to open the enclosure was made ??do it on December 9, 2010. On the one hand, Floreal had left the fence so it had discarded the possibility of reproduction among them, and secondly, the interest they showed Dardo could lead to their pairing.




Post-release movements


From the exit of the enclosure, Floreal has prospected throughout the area of ??Coto del Rey including the National Park and has appeared three times a Natural Park, entering a few hundred meters north. He has also made ??an excursion to the south, reaching the "Little Holland" and returning to the four days. To do so, has gone through "the barrel of the Mother " of the marsh that separates Coto del Rey in Los Sotos, flooded by the rains of recent months at the time. This male appears to be trying to carve out a niche as territorial in the release.

Eider, meanwhile, was quick to leave the territory of Sting, once released. It moved north, crossing a pass of fauna, the paved road that connects Villamanrique de la Condesa to El Rocío and settling on the farm "Head Rasa", within the population center of Coto del Rey and within the limits of Doñana Natural Park (photos).

Is currently being tracked through GPS-GSM collars issuers carrying supplemented by camera traps that continue to ensure proper fit. The photographs obtained show that they are fed properly and that interactions with the lynx residents will not have led to fights or contingencies that impair them physically. The places where issuers do not send coordinates for not having GSM coverage, locations are covered with conventional radio telemetry.







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